So … hi

With the news that Google Reader is closing I got a couple of follow notifications so I think there are still 2 people who might get my updates.

Really that suits me fine. I have decided I’m going to try to write again. Every day. But start small and not always with something profound to say (did I ever?). I always struggled with what this blog should be about but now I don’t care so much so I will just write.

The other week at the hairdresser I ran into a former tutor of mine from when I was at UTS in 2006. I’m sure that I must have seen her since then, but it’s definitely been a long time. She’s now at another uni and focusing on research work. Anyway I mentioned that I miss research and still wish I could do more (but also that my friends and family have banned me from studying ever again). It got me thinking about what I wanted to do my Masters project on but couldn’t because of timing and various things.

For a long time one of my main interests has been in getting information to people who need it most. Although perhaps that’s not the best way to put it, because everyone needs information all the time and sometimes particularly keenly. But what I am interested in is ways to get information to people who may be in a situation where they can’t get access to normal channels, where they are too afraid, too ashamed, don’t know where to look, etc. For example during my Grad. Dip. I did a pilot research study on the information needs and behaviours of ecstasy users in New South Wales – people engaging in a high risk, illegal activity, who have a right to information about the drugs, about their health, about legal aspects, but because of the nature of what they’re doing they can’t necessarily just ask their parents or their doctor or their teacher. In an ideal world people could ask their librarian for where to find help on any topic without being judged.

But in 2011 I read some articles about how homeless people were using social media. I remember this one ‘Homeless turn to Twitter for food, shelter’ and wanting to investigate this further. I blogged about this back then over at ALIA Sydney, but I didn’t pursue it through my studies and now it’s still sitting in my head as something I want to do.

Like with all things online, behind the computer you can be anybody that you want to be. Online, people don’t need to know that you’re homeless, you can connect with friends and family and interact as you choose to. Or you can share your experiences, either to people in similar situations or to people who are willing to listen and engage. I think that people being able to connect with health and support services online now is a fantastic thing. And even just having somewhere to vent when you’re having a bad day.

I think there is a perception that if you are homeless you wouldn’t be on social media, but why wouldn’t you be if you want to? There is free internet access in many libraries (complete with free classes on using social media and the internet), free wifi popping up everywhere, and increasingly cheaper mobile phone services.

Really I never stopped thinking about this, and still have a google alert set up, but I’ve still never pursued it. I am craving research right now so I think I should do something about this …but what?


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