Thursday, 23 August 2012

Thing 12 – Lurking on the sidelines

 Thing 12 invites participants to reflect on their use of social networks and to consider whether you:
ñ     interact with people or do you lurk?
ñ     tend to stay within the comfort zone of your own sector or do you actively look for people who work in different areas of the profession?
ñ     Are a bit reluctant to get involved, and if yes, why do you think this is?

Claire Sewell also suggests looking at the blog of a CPD23 participant who is in a different sector and starting active dialogue on their blog.

Lurking on the Sidelines?
© Copyright 
Sarah Charlesworth and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

My use of social networks?

I guess that I'm more of a lurker than an active participant, although I have published a couple of reflections on legislative developments in Wales and on value-adding work in business information provision. I also occasionally respond to requests on email lists or via Twitter. I try and use my professional judgement to comment on aspects with which I have knowledge, or which fascinate me. Hopefully my contributions will therefore be of value and will add to the discussion in a helpful way. I don't necessarily want to add to “random noise”, but when it matters I would like for my voice to be heard. Louise Cowan's Peripheral Device blog notes her reluctance to blog for reasons of time and confidence. I guess many of us can identify with these constraints! Louise sets out a great action plan to address these - an admirable practice, and one to follow.

However, I beginning to wonder if lurking is being overly dismissed as a negative activity. Is this always fair or true? Lurking can still be great for professional development, raising awareness of issues, concerns or current professional news. An appreciative audience of a social network discussion is surely still to be valued? A "live" audience would mark the end of lively debate with applause and perhaps questions or comments. Then perhaps should we do similarly for online discussions? A quick contribution to indicate that I've enjoyed the conversation, would, I'm sure, be welcomed by the main parties in the discussion. Better still a comment to indicate that discussions have provided a new perspective, or that you agree with most of the points, but what about “x”, or would anyone suggest to a good resource to improve understanding about “y”? And of course, in doing so, one breaks free from the shackles of lurking. This is certainly something that I hope to undertake a little more frequently.

Comfort zone or "social animal"?

Inherently by nature I'm a "comfort zone" kind of person, although I'm really lucky in having a reasonably diverse and wide professional network. My involvement with CILIP Career Development Group helps here. And I'm fortunate to receive updates from Cardiff Libraries in Cooperation [CLIC] and attend their excellent events.  My blog for Thing 10 also records that I've worked in a number of different library sectors and over a number of years so this helps provide a varied range of contacts. So, on reflection, perhaps I'm not quite so confined and parochial as I think I am. However, Thing 12 has inspired me to reach out beyond my usual list of contacts and to expand my horizons. I found a lot of shared experience and interest in Anabel Marsh's experiences of CPD23Things in her blog and we've sent some supportive Tweets. Anabel has encouraged me to reconsider becoming a mentor :-) and it was just the encouragement I needed. A school librarian, Caroline Fielding's blog also provides a new perspective for me.

Reluctant participant?

Yes possibly, mainly because of time and confidence - so here I agree with Louise. However Thing 12 has encouraged me to reflect on my social network participation, and as a consequence to try to be more engaged and to be more of a contributor. Creating time to work on 23Things may well help me with this goal too.

Lurking on the Sidelines? No way!
© Copyright Peter Kazmierczak and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence. 


  1. Thanks for the mention! Hope you do pursue mentorship, sounds like you would be good at it, having learned from your own mentors (and analysed what you learned).