Saturday, May 2, 2009

Google Profiles of libraries

Introduction


In this post, I will talk about a little known service called Google Profiles, why it is becoming important, and I will describe how libraries have being using it, the web 2.0 accounts they are listing on it, and compare it to the accounts listed by libraries on Friendfeed.

Google Profiles

For years, Google had a little known feature/service called Google Profiles, which allowed users of Google accounts to setup profiles of themselves. In many ways they were similar to the lifestreaming accounts like Friendfeed, in that you listed other associated accounts such as Flickr, Twitter, Facebook, which you owned. Despite Google's brand recognition, they have never being particularly skilled at building social networks and Google Profiles was pretty much ignored.

This was until April 2009, where they placed their trump card. Two changes occured, one minor change, one major. The first change was that they allowed users to use a custom profile url, instead of a long string of numbers. For sure http://www.google.com/profiles/aarontay looks better than http://www.google.com/profiles/104559151215707191902. Below shows an example of a Google Profile set up by E.H Butler Library.





More significantly, these Google Profiles appear at the bottom of Google searches! when you do a search.



You can find out more about Google profiles here.

Libraries on Google profiles- Methodology

In a previous post, I looked at Library accounts on Friendfeed (a popular Lifestreaming service) and studied the web 2.0 accounts that Libraries linked to. A very obvious idea now is to do the same for libraries on Google Profiles as well.

I did a Google Profile search, by searching for the word library in the title. This results in about 162 entries. Unfortunately the vast majority of entries were blank, or had at best a link to their homepage. These I ignored on the admittedly dubious assumption that most libraries had at least a blog and accounts without blogs were Google Profiles that were not properly maintained. Moroever I noticed that one of the libraries, the Unquiet Library had both a Google Profile and Friendfeed with the later having more accounts listed. Of the remaining, I took note of the accounts they listed. Again a Google doc version of the data is available.


Results are as below.





The disclaimers I made for previous post applies here, the data above is not representative of what libraries in general are doing in the web2.0/socialmedia arena . Rather they show what libraries who have custom Google Profiles are doing.


Comparing Libraries on Google profiles and Libraries on Friendfeed



I've reproduced the chart showing accounts linked to in Friendfeed above.

The main difference between the two charts is that compared to Libraries on Friendfeed, fewer Libraries on Google Profiles list Twitter accounts.

A minor difference perhaps is that Libraries on Google Profiles tend to list more Picasa accounts for photo sharing compred to Flickr. This can be explained by the fact that Picasa is a Google service can will be autoamatically added.

We also see libraries listing Google Books (example)and more Google Reader (example) accounts. They are quite a few innovative uses of these 2 accounts, see more from data.

Unlike Friendfeed where you can only add specific accounts, or accounts with RSS feeds, with Google Profiles you are free to add any URL, and libraries have exploited this by adding links to subject guides (example), internet archive (example), Yahoo pipes (example) etc.

Another difference seems to be that none of the libraries on Google Profiles list links to delicious . It's unclear if this is a result of libraries not listing them, or the libraries not having an account in the first place.

So does your library have a Google Profile ? Are you maintaining it?

Aaron Tay
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