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Expose Yourself in Public

It is an exhausting week for both work and school; gave a talk about My Place Of Work in Burbank Tuesday, turned in another essay yesterday, did the publishing-morning thing today, and have a talk at Oakland PL tomorrow.

But I had a Moment of Zen at Tuesday’s talk in Burbank worth sharing. During break, a librarian said to me, “Long time ago, someone taught us that MPOW is part of the Invisible Web!” Ouch, I thought.

So after break I made sure the audience heard me on several shticks. I’ll share what I often share these days, summarized as best I can. My battle cry: Expose yourself in public!

* You never want to be part of the Invisible Web–a phrase Gary Price once told me he was now heartily sick of, and I don’t blame him. There really is no Invisible Web; there’s just stuff that’s hard to find and hard to remember. You don’t want to be in that group.You want your services to be visible. So visible people can’t avoid them, so visible people make them a habit. (That’s why the folks at MPOW push subscribing to New This Week. People forget what they don’t see. Our subscribers use MPOW more than non-subscribers. Like, doh!)

* Remember always that, in Anne Lipow’s words, the user is not remote; you and your services are remote (and thus, invisible). I saw a library announce today that it was offering the XYZABC database except you had to go into the library to use it. That’s like my bank saying you can now get your statements online but you have to come to the bank to seem them. (And all too often, stand in line. And get to a computer that might and might not offer printing. And if the computer doesn’t work lose your place at the machine so you can beg a librarian warming a chair to help you, only to be told It’s Your Problem.)

* Improve your search capability. Promote your services daily. Put out a blog–it can be your latest new purchases; events; anything. You have easy content sitting around begging to be published. Get an RSS feed or three. Make sure your site is spiderable (bad code will screw that up in a heartbeat). Make your databases available anywhere, anytime. Start every day thinking, “I’m invisible–how do I fix that?” and then spend that day making yourself less visible. Repeat for the next thirty years.

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