As I was thinking about the rising popularity of social networks, the analogy of a small town came to mind. Facebook could be compared to the local pub, where friends meet to share jokes, small talk- or even grumble about personal problems. Twitter, then, might be more like the local library, because one can follow others on narrower topics and trends. The Internet, as a whole, has been compared to a library. Without a catalog system (Dewey Decimal System), however, it is often a huge chaotic mess!
“The Internet may be the world’s greatest library, but let’s face it – all the books are scattered on the floor.” ~D.C. Denison, Boston Globe
User-generated content has changed the way we communicate. Of course, the basic underlying needs to share our lives with each other remains. Obviously, spending too much time at the local pub (fb) can lead to trouble. Expanding our horizons beyond those who share our ideas (twitter) is important, too.
The randomness of social networks intrigues me. The more friends and followers one has, the more time must be spent to keep up or the more likely it becomes to miss something. So, posts become trivial. You might argue- yes but what’s wrong with trivial? Must everything be meaningful or educational? As a librarian, I have always believed that there are too many great books out there to waste time on the trivial, formulaic ones. I used to compare those to fast-food versus nutritious home-cooking (or maybe fine-dining, at times). But, I must admit there is truth to old proverb “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.”
Back to the comparison of Twitter to a library…
Growing up, a brick and mortar library was a highly respected place. A place one could revere with confidence for the authority of man’s highest achievements and traditions. The truths inside the library building were fixed, not fluid and ever-changing. Perhaps that confidence in a fixed grand hall filled with shelves was just an illusion. Nothing in life is ever really permanently fixed. We are all ever-changing, just as the formats of our words– both trivial and significant.