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John Stevenson's picture

Emerging communications technologies - what is their role for GODORT?

At the Midwinter Meeting, the committee and guests discussed tools available for GODORT members to communicate.  As the minutes show, these five were discussed at length and recommendations for the disposition of these tools were shared:

It was generally agreed that

  • The ALA website GODORT page should have its content migrated from the ALA site and be converted into a useful point of entry for the GODORT wiki and ALA Connect pages.
  • The wiki will be the home of current information and recent content, including what GODORT has done and its current projects. The wiki will be the repository for GODORT activities including minutes, agendas, and free online publications.
  • As ALA Connect includes both wiki and broadcast features, the committee sees it as offering organizational details for active GODORT members and those with committee appointments. As Connect offers granularity of membership access to information, it replaces closed email lists for committee discussion.
  • godort@ala.org (the email list) cannot be maintained by GODORT and will be phased out in favor of ALA Connect.
  • The blog was seen as desirable because it supported RSS feeds but may now be redundant.

There are at least three other communications tools that some members are using (some assuming an unofficial "godort" identity) which the committee would like to discuss:

blip.tv http://godort.blip.tv/posts?view=archive

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/

Twitter http://twitter.com/godort

What role should these play, if any, in official GODORT communications?

If you know of communications tools that are being used by GODORT members, please let the committee know so we can add them to this list for discussion. Thank you, and let the discussion start.

John Stevenson & Valerie Glenn

Co-Chairs, GODORT Ad Hoc Committee on Communications

Linda Spiro's picture

My two cents:

I believe GODORT moved content to the wiki because Collage for the ALA website is so difficult to use.  While much easier to use, the wiki also has some limitations.  I heard rumors that ALA may move away from Collage.  Is the committee taking that into consideration before we think about ditching a website? To me, a website has a more robust structure.

I would hate to see GovDocL disappear and be replaced with ALA Connect although you may not be considering that move.  We get one message a day that includes replies so it doesn't overwhelm our email boxes. I also like the search features. It's a wonderful training tool. As you noted, it's not an official GODORT channel anyway.  I wonder how many non-GODORT members subscribe. It's also probably a good place to advertize GODORT events to our non-members if many subscribe.


Linda Spiro Government Information Librarian Fondren Library, Rice University

John Stevenson's picture

Thanks for your comments, Linda. The committee has discussed these issues and can share some additional information on them. 

Linda is correct that GODORT web managers and leaders agreed to move content to the wiki because Collage is so difficult to use. Collage is no longer being supported, so ALA is looking for new content manger software.  A snopesALA article suggests that the new CMS may be Drupal but no decision has been taken.

Regarding email lists, GODORT does not own GOVDOC-L and use of that list by GODORT is limited because it's not an official GODORT channel.  The email list established through ALA, godort@ala.org, is the list that has essentially been replaced by ALA Connect.  ALA Connect is self-populating and user-configurable, that is, all dues-paying GODORT members are automatically entitled to view GODORT-only content on ALA Connect pages.  They may adjust their email preferences to receive updates as to available content as frequently as it goes up as infrequently as two-week summaries of new material.  There's even a "vacation" feature that lets people opt out of email until they want it again.

John Stevenson


John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671

Shari Laster's picture

I think that tools like Facebook and Twitter have more of an outward-facing role than ALA Connect. They facilitate conversation and interaction with potential members as well as current members. They're also a great communication shortcut for GODORT members who have adopted these technologies into their professional communication portfolio, but it doesn't seem like they really replace ALA Connect or, for that matter, participation in govdoc-l.

There may also be issues for which GODORT wants to increase its advocacy reach, and tools that allow for easily attributed sharing and contribution like Twitter are really ideal for reaching certain groups.

I would add that GODORT could potentially have a presence on SlideShare, since many people upload presentations there. It would also be great to have FDLP presentations on an easier-to-access platform like SlideShare, although that may not be a practical change.


Shari Laster

rhonabwy@gmail.com / twitter: @rhonabwy

John Stevenson's picture

Shari brings up an important point regarding the "outward-facing" role of some tools, like Facebook and Twitter. Some people use these really well but the "GODORT" identity on Twitter seems robot-like. It's an impersonal feed of federal (not GODORT) facts.  Fortunately, it includes a link to the wiki for anyone inclined to learn more.

GODORT has an unofficial Facebook presence (with two fans) but there's no GODORT content in Facebook. (Does GODORT have a volunteer to maintain this for the fans?)

The idea of sharing GODORT presentations through a GODORT identity has merit, but raises the question of who is GODORT in such cases? Would it be the Publications Committee, which already has considerable responsibility for GODORT's print and web presence?  While anyone may claim to be GODORT, the organization can't have too much of this in an uncoordinated fashion or it'll confuse the identity (like shouts of "I'm Sparticus!")

As a voluntary organization, GODORT does not have staff to generate and maintain current content for us. Do we have enough dedicated volunteers to keep many new media plates spinning during a recessionary time? If we let GODORT plates drop or conent grows stale or spam-like, that also sends an impression.

John Stevenson

John A. Stevenson
Associate Librarian, Student Multimedia Design Center
University of Delaware Library
302 831-8671