Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creepy, questionable & fun

Change is healthy and normal and I sort of embrace some of the big shakeups coming down the pike.  Sure, it'll be kind of sad, in a way, to no longer have the post office, the check, etc.  Those are so ingrained in our minds as part of daily life, even when we don't really use them, that their lack might leave a big, nostalgic void for a while.  But the simple fact is that when we come up with a better way of doing things, the old way dies away.  The trick is to try to get on the right side of the change.  In the early 20th century, when the car culture was in its first appearances, livery stable owners had a choice: go away quietly, or adapt to become car dealerships and auto garages.  I'm not sure how a government agency like the post office could adapt in that way, but surely there will be a way for the individuals who have spent a lifetime organizing the logistics of the postal service to continue to serve in the information world.  We'll see.

I'm particularly happy to see the evolution of the television.  I think we've spent enough decades frozen in front of the boob-tube.  I feel bad, a little, for the networks (and the even more struggling cable channels), but they're working on getting with the program with streaming services through their own proprietary web presences and through services like hulu.  I think this change is great: so much excellent commentary has appeared on the internet revolving around tv shows--comedies, dramas, original stuff, literary adaptations, whatever--delving deep into serious social and cultural issues like our perceptions of race, sexuality, violence, and more.  There's a whole cottage industry out there of amateur criticism focused on tv, and I think it's due in large part to the shift to internet viewing: it allows for much easier pausing, rewinding, and tracking through for specific moments; and the medium by which to record your thoughts and feelings is right there in front on you, so a lot of people have taken advantage.  (For a great example of thoughtful commentary on a wide range of tv shows, check out Alyssa Rosenberg on ThinkProgress--tv criticism with a socio-political edge.)  I guess what I'm getting at is that I'm excited to see something that has long been a stereotypically braindead pastime begin to turn into something that's fostering some intelligent engagement.

But yeah, there's that scary side.  Privacy--what's that? I just got done writing a paper in which I explored the "privacy is dead" attitude prevalent among the upcoming generations, after which I speculated on the negative consequences of the tendency to sort of hold that up as inevitable, as something to accept and move on--namely, that the any, many people who still DO care about privacy will be tempted to eschew these new services and paradigms.  Not the least victim of this hesitance to access all that the century has to offer is the library; and if even one person feels like the library is not a safe place to enter private data, then the promise of the library as an institution of democracy is not being fulfilled.

So, yeah, privacy.  And e-books.  My 505 class had a guest speaker today, Mr Ken Fujiuchi, who informed us that to buy an e-reader is to give up the privacy of your reading habits.  The two concepts just can't co-exist.  Your data is culled and stored and analyzed every time you make a purchase, every time you browse.  That's sinister and unnecessary.  I don't want guessing what I want to read.  It's different with Pandora, upon which I commented in Karrie's post, wherein you actively give the details of your musical taste and let the application do the rest.  But with bookstores--I mean, forget the creepiness of individually targeted marketing; for me, part of the point of reading is the jumping around.  If I've just read a John le Carre, who says I'll want to read another cold war era espionage thriller with a humanistic bent next time?  Presumptions make a...pres...out of u and me...or something.

But all in all, I think I'm excited for the coming changes.  Mr Fujiuchi, who is an emerging technology librarian at Buff State, offered us some tantalizing glimpses of the future, not the least of which is Facebook and Intel's ability to create a museum exhibit of your life.  Creepy, questionable and fun--just how I like my futures.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

I really appreciated this whole Web 2.0 exploration.  I had a lot of criticism about many of these applications, but I did appreciate learning about them, and some I've even come around on--the RSS feed is a part of my daily life now, and I've been using Zotero steadily for my big projects.  These are useful, yo.

I'm not sure I was very surprised at any point in this process; maybe my past posts belie that, but I sort of had a sense that these things existed out there somewhere.  It is a wide range, that's for sure, and I do appreciate having had this survey, because now I think I won't feel any intimidation in seeking out and implementing these technologies, either in my own life or in any library setting I find myself in.

On that note, I think that that about sums up the effect this experience has had on my Lifelong Learning techniques.  It's safe to say that feelings of intimidation play a large role in many facets of my life, including in seeking out and using technology I'm not already comfortable with.  Word processing and email, those have been my main digital crutches.  But there is so much more out there that can streamline life and business and careers.  Along with intimidation, I have to add that procrastination is a big part of my life, and assuming that doesn't go away any time soon, these technologies might make my life a bit smoother.  (Thanks for this semester, Zotero!)  I don't know how huge a shift in my perspective this is, since as a big reader and writer I was already kind of locked into the concept of being a lifelong learner.

One addition I might want to see on there is Prezi.  That keeps coming up in my LIS classes, and I'd love to have an excuse just to go play with it.  (Maybe after this semester.)  Such a pretty alternative to PowerPoint.  But in terms of format, I dunno, I have appreciated the self-direction of the experience, but I might like a few more mentions of due dates and whatnot in class.  Just touching base to remind the students that it's not a 'get it done whenever' process. It's all good, though.  I just need to keep my syllabus more handy.

Gubb Love

I was pretty comfortable with this exploration of sundry tools because, for once, I was encountering techs and tools that I've already been familiar with--either the ones listed, or very similar equivalent applications.

The biggest one is Google Calendar.  Never have I utilized a more useful app; never has one become more ubiquitous to my daily life.  I've been using it for about two or three years now and I just have it up on my browser constantly; I put in my class assignments, trips, visitors and visits.  I also stick in things I aspire to do but it maybe gets bumped due to timing issues--so it just clicked-and-dragged to the next week or month.  (Visiting my LIS friend Jared at the music library for a look around has been a frequent casualty due to my 506 class on Thursdays--no hard feelings, though ;-))  But it's great--I never forget anything, even those hole-in-the-wall art gallery exhibits or two-for-the-price-of-one zoo admission days.

Another utility that has been of great benefit to me is the whole concept of the online to-do list.  Before this web 2.0 business, my life was drowning in bits of paper.  Story ideas, books to read, song lyrics i heard on the radio in hopes of tracking the artist down good.  Certainly not for a future librarian!  Then I found  You can make as many little post-it note-resembling list things in different as you want, and specify whether you want them to be to-do style--with check boxes--or simply list style.  No more paper drown.  Sorry, etc....looks like you have pay shields.  Gubb is free.  I love my Gubb!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Exhilaration, Exhaustion, and an Idea I'm Apparently Very Fond Of

Much of the general thought on Web 2.0 seems to agree on one thing--it's exhilarating.  I'd add that it's somewhat exhausting.  Not necessarily a bad thing; it's a workout for the mind.  But as with any workout regimen, I think it has to be approached carefully to avoid burnout or injury.

These dangers are especially true when it comes to thinking about Library 2.0.  We have to remember that, in whatever version of a library we may someday find ourselves, that not everyone can or wants to be as technologically cutting-edge as it's currently faconnable in the LIS world to be.

Not to say that we should shy away.  We ought to put every resource that we can out in front of our users, guide them to new ways of doing and thinking that might solve their problems, and teach them to become fluent in the ones they choose to use.  But we have to be very careful not to lose them in the flood of apps, services, digital revamps, and buzzwords.  I know I've been looking at some of these Web 2.0 activities skeptically, but a lot of it has been devil's advocacy inspired by initial momentary setbacks.  These are the problems we're going to have to help our users navigate through.  We have to remember that we're to serve as facilitators to information and technology use, not merely as passive stewards or docents.  A lot of people will have a lot of trouble with these newfangled ways of doing things, and a lot of them will be turned off by less-than-stellar first impressions; we have to be ready to pick up the pieces without hesitation, try to turn those frowns upside-downs, if you will.  There will be a lot of that.  It will probably be more annoying, after the ten-dozenth time, to have to help someone untangle Zotero than it is to constantly direct traffic to the bathrooms--and we know how prickly librarians get about that. But I think most of us will soldier on, content in the knowledge that at least we're helping with an information need.  (Maybe we should look at the bathroom thing from a similar perspective: it's hard to engage in worthwhile lifelong learning when you have to pee.  True fact.)

So, exhilarating and exhausting--that's Web 2.0 and that's Library 2.0.  Both good things--both great things.  We're poised to be the psychic personal trainers of the 21st Century and beyond and I'm thrilled with the responsibility.  No doubt sooner or later some library will be posting "8-Minute Apps" videos on YouTube.  Oh, actually, that's hilarious.  I slay me.  Nobody steal that  Totally copyrighted !!! :-)