Working on a panel presentation for the Texas Library Association Convention (Creating Alliances with the Overlapping Fields of IT and Librarianship) has given me a chance to contemplate the jurisdiction battle between these two perspectives. For decades, I have listened to people argue about the “L” word and the “I” word. (Library and Information– am I a librarian or an information specialist? Do I work in a library or in the realm of information whether physical, digital, electronic, or augmented?) Librarians have found it imperative to embrace information technology, but we can’t all be experts in IT.
This week, my son told me about an encounter with an IT guy that really hit home. As a computer program implementer, Ken has to install and teach individuals about an entirely new application on a regular basis. Sometimes, the program installs and runs perfectly. But, other times networking issues and numerous other problems arise. Well, on this particular day, he installed the program and it didn’t work. He tried the common troubleshooting methods, checking the networks for the particular client. Suddenly, a guy who he hadn’t noticed came over and offered to help. This IT guy just happened to be nearby at the moment. Instead of having to place a work order and wait for help, the IT guy saved hours of wait time. My son ended the anecdote by saying, “the guy was really cool.”
As I thought about how we all have our skills sets and areas of expertise– and yet we all rely heavily on the IT department, I asked Ken what made the guy cool. He explained that the guy simply had a helpful attitude. It was his disposition.
That word comes up in the 21st Century Learning Standards put out by the ALA American Association of School Librarians. Learners today must have a disposition toward adaptation, critically evaluating content, and persistence in seeking ethical interaction in information communication. The bullet point (1.2) is called Dispositions in Action.
The word disposition is a good choice. In other words, our attitude still matters and always will! Having knowledge and skills is essential, but equally essential is being willing to share and collaborate. So, I came up with an equation for building rapport with IT- or with anyone for that matter. Two perspectives plus a collaborative disposition equals rapport.
2P + CD = Rapport
ROI (an economics term)
I find very little Return on Investment with the time spent on Facebook. I have never accomplished much scrolling through the contributions.
Now Pinterest and Instagram are bidding for the attention of those of us uploading photos. Digital archiving is tricky. Flickr was one of the first to provide a space for our photos. But, I still forget sometimes where I have placed my digital content. Is it on Flickr, my phone, my flashdrive, my hardrive, my laptop, or ….(add digital device here)?
Maybe we all need librarian skills today! We have to choose what to archive- what to put on our devices (not just photos but all of our digital files). We decide what to put in file folders or in the cloud. Someday, it will all be available, so I suppose we need not worry. If the Dewey Decimal System is dead (but still a great exercise in thinking critically about information systems and cataloging) and everything is available at the touch of a finger…what is important is choosing very wisely. We must choose what is valuable because what is available will be overwhelming.
Trivial clutter adds nothing to my life- in fact it subtracts from my time.
Then, I must ask myself, what does add value to my life?
The essentials of being human—even though I know I have become a cyborg.
and maybe just taking a walk without anything digital at all.
1. YOU are in charge of your learning.
What does that mean? In the old hierarchy mode, an authority figure was in charge (the teacher, the press, the library, the institution). Today, crowd-sourced content is top dog and the media news broadcast is a talk show over coffee. Which means, you must critically evaluate all the information that is bombarding you on the web each day.
2. You must participate.
This can be problematic. Most of the experts (whom I respect greatly- see my recommended reading list) warn of the “dumbing down” of our youth through convenient internet browsing for answers and through narcissistic social media participation. Like it or not, however, there is no going back to the old hierarchy where accuracy and authority were more important than popularity and personal interest. Barlow and Leston end their book, Beyond the Blogsphere (2012), by stating, “When a collective force as ubiquitous as the internet continues to grow at alarming speeds and when most of its energy is wasted, some sketches of understanding need to be made so that we can begin to better understand this growing, pulsing, emerging organism called the internet.”
3. You MUST credit.
Surprise! Plagiarism still applies! Amazingly, I see both students and teachers who do not understand that you cannot simply take a picture off a website and use it in whatever manner you choose. The common misconception is that if someone posted it online…it’s mine! Perhaps the rapid evolution from print to electronic media created confusion about intellectual property. But, in my opinion, the blurry line between professional life and personal life is more likely the culprit.
That’s another topic- one which I imagine others are currently contemplating. Social media encourages the “fuzzy line” between professional and personal communication. For the past year or so, I have been thinking that entertainment and triviality make up about 98% of social media, leaving only 2% for educational use. In other words, you really don’t have to give credit when the communication is just about the pizza you are eating! (Why does eveyone love to post pictures of food? I guess it is just part of being human. And, by the way, you must credit even the pizza picture unless you took it yourself or it is copyright free.) That 98% I mentioned is, metaphorically, a giant pizza.
Photo retrieved from http://www.public-domain-image.com/food-and-drink/pizza/slides/pepperoni-pizzas.html
I feel like we are all shouting from the rooftops. “Over Here!”
As the social media delegate (no name yet for the position; but, as a school librarian, I feel responsible to be the hub of the school) for my campus, I can observe the goings-on as “the Ethridge Eagle” and not as “me”.
Let me clarify the personas:
The Ethridge Eagle: I choose to use the profile pic of the school mascot as the voice of the school. Some librarians have their own library Facebook page, but the way I see it…if the library is the “hub” -why have a second page that is separate? I mean, the voice of the school is not about me but about the whole school.
Me: Who am I? I am a wife, mother, librarian, scholar,citizen, life-long learner, hiker and so on.
So does that “me” have a social media presence? Only an obligatory one. The wife and mother is a private thing. The librarian/scholar is the public me. Hence—- Valibrarian is my public voice.
How have I handled these various voices? It is no secret (since whatever you put online is pretty much forever) that I am not a fan of Facebook. I am beginning to understand that one of my reasons for disliking Facebook is the difficulty in speaking with so many different voices. Wait– isn’t that what we do when we speak in different languages? If I am going to speak in different voices, I need to develop the perspective of one who speaks in many languages. I need to practice thinking in different voices and clarifying the words I need to translate before speaking.
On the other hand, translation of language is not really the same as speaking with a different voice to a different audience. The point of language translation is to keep the voice as close as possible with the same context and connotation. I speak to my young nieces in a different voice than I speak to my co-workers and colleagues. Sharing personal photos and anecdotes to every significant person in my life, simultaneously, seems to me to be bombarding their spheres of information intake with even more clutter than they must already face each day. When I post to everyone, I am shouting from the rooftop, “Over Here! Look at me! I have something to say.”
Have we all become newboys shouting “Extra? Extra? Read all about it!” in reference to our own personal lives through our social media?
Seth Godin says we all now “spout and scout“. I have been estimating that 98% of this spouting is triviality adding to the clutter that I call “the sea of chaos”– but I certainly may be way off in my calculations.
I failed at my quest to “like” Facebook and I will now openly admit that I do not. I am trying very hard to embrace content creation with sites like Pinterest. So far, I am finding my calculations of 98% triviality to be fairly accurate.
What to do about this tsunami of nonsense?
I am reminded of the anti-drug slogan — Just Say No! I am no longer going to “friend or follow” trivial nonsense. Please don’t take it personally (my dear nieces, co-workers, long-time chums). This is not about friendship. It really isn’t. How we communicate defines us as a species.
This is about the future of humankind.
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” reminds me of the years I have spent surrounded by books and stories. I am grateful to have been in the position of sharing words, stories, books, and their incredible power and beauty. I cannot imagine a more beautiful way to have spent my life…other than perhaps in my mother’s kitchen.
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore from Moonbot Studios on Vimeo.
With the flood of information came the responsibility of each of us to critically evaluate our daily intake. We jump from post to tweet to text to tool to (maybe just maybe) printed word.
For over twenty years one of my roles has been the aquisition of resources (sounds so stuffy and academic, huh? We all like to, um, sound hip and not use stuffy big words today…. I mean aquisition— really? resources—- seriously? lol I am being sarcastic now).
Librarianship, education, the media, journalism and numerous other communication forms are no longer what they were just a decade ago. Actually, if you remain calm and resist the temptation to succcumb to fear about the loss of the traditional hierarchy of information and the unknown territory ahead (GRIN- genetics, robotics, information, nanotechnology), it is quite an exciting time to be alive.
Perhaps the librarian and the journalist are both merging with what museums have always called “curation”. I just read “We’re All Journalists Now” by Soctt Gant. I guess we are all librarians, too! Unfortunately, some collections are much better than others. Some media stations are better than others. Some news sources are better than others.
Oh– for a simpler time.
Then again, maybe simplicity wasn’t all it was cracked up to be and neither is information overload.
Every minute is just another minute to take another breath.
Curation is like picking fruit and sharing it with others in a basket.
Picture from: http://www.atcna.net/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/curation.jpeg
A kindergartener entered my library today with a solemn expression and handed me this note along with an envelope full of exact change.
Revision passed away this morning, after a long battle with social media tools and instant gratification of verbiage. Survived by Writing Process siblings, Editing and Grammar, both now housed in assisted living facilities, Revision is remembered by readers and writers across the globe as having contributed to the accumulation of literature of all genres, the history of the world, and the knowledge of mankind for over 500 years.
Born in the Gutenberg family and cradled in the printing press, Revision led a life of unmatchable variety and creativity. Revision worked tirelessly and his work has been acclaimed by experts as one of the greatest, yet most unrecognized achievements on record.
Sadly, Revision’s offspring are tweeting and posting with such reckless abandon–some fear the huge amass of wealth accumulated over centuries, within the Writing Process Family, could be squandered in only a few years. A world hungry for wisdom could possibly be left in ignorant poverty because disposable words and ideas are now tossed aside along with fast food packaging.
A decision will be forthcoming as to whether Revision will be cremated or placed in a digital landfill.
I am the child who is calling out, “Look! The Emperor is wearing nothing at all!”
Hush! You cannot say such a thing.
The emperor, in my analogy, is us. Those of you scanning blogs, nings, social personal network sites, twitter, and a host of Web 2.0 user-generated content spaces (which I should name but I know people only stay tuned to a post for an average of 12 seconds) may identify with this blog post. With our smart phones in our pockets and our many computer portals close at hand, we have built up a momentum of constant sharing. Each of us, if we are honest, has personal interests and goals- one of which is simply to “keep up” with the current information (r)evolution. We can’t.
Just as mankind always has, we look to each other (friend/follow) for guidance. And in that quest to stay onboard the fast moving train, we gracefully glide from station to station (phone, computer station, portal, email check, tweet, Facebook post, network check, IM, text message).
Secretly, in our hearts, we think about getting off the train. We remember days when an hour was spent in contemplation. We remember things like:
the joy of making something with our own hands
reading a book
no ringtones to distract us to some other place
The emperor is wearing nothing.
Nothing at all.
I am taking a break for a moment….just to reflect.