11 February, 2008

Keeping up to date

As the oft quoted saying goes - the only certainty is change. Over the last couple of weeks I have been to 2 conferences, both of them with similar themes of new technologies and libraries.
One of the speakers I found most interesting was Sherman Young from Macquarie University. He is the author of "The book is dead. long live the book."

Forget the debate, says Young: the book, like John Cleese’s parrot, is already dead. Look around the bus: who’s reading? They’ve all got headphones “dangling out of ears.” (He also noted the irony of using the book format to proclaim its death...) At the conference he talked about the interactive, participative way that people now use media, and this includes how they get information and also their recreation. All that time that goes into creating and interacting on Facebook is being taken from passive television watching. He gave a great short take on where the web is going:
Web 1 - was about connectivity
Web 2 - is about creating
Web 3 - will be about content, and the machine pulling together information in a meaningful way.
Where does that leave public libraries? I think, at the very least, in a position they were in for Web 1 - providing people with access and training so that they can participate in an increasingly online world. At a higher level, we can facilitate content creation - whether that is through workshops or providing the means for people to do things like upload photos, videos or their stories onto social networking sites.
On 29 February, WikiNorthia is being launched. WikiNorthia aims to document life in Melbourne's north through the use of a wiki - which is a website or similar online resource that allows users to add and edit content collectively. But more about WikiNorthia in future blogs!
Regular classes are held in libraries that show people how to use RSS feeds, set up a blog and do other neat web 2.0 things. Just ask at your branch. And if you have any ideas about how you think libraries can incorporate these things into our programs and services please leave a comment.


Jeremy LeBard said...

I think libraries could benefit from user generated content. Harnessing this across all libraries in Australia could be a very potent combination of value add for readers. I just launched a book cataloging website 2 months ago that does just this. I'd love to integrate with libraries.

Anonymous said...

Looking around on the trains to and from work each day, I take issue with the statement that "no-one" is reading. There are usually as many people with their faces in a book as there are peopke listening to music or staring out the window.

Don't forget that reading a book is also a very tactile experience. Working in IT I should be the first to eschew this supposedly anachronistic media, and yet more and more me and the people around me are turning away from our screens and going back to print.

It seems like the book is not dead yet, and won't be for some time to come.