Public Computing in a web 2.0 world

Once again – I’m blogging without Internet! In my own hotel. Where I’m paying $10 a day for Internet Access. This sucks. Oh well, so far, before the session has started, I’ve gotten a picture of the three lovely ladies leading this session (any alliteration is purely coincidental, don’t flame me in the comments for it). Jessamyn West, Sarah Washburn, and Louis Alcorn are all going to give us tips on Public Computer access in a 2.0 world.
Sarah gave an introduction to the MaintainIT project, going into the cookbooks, the webinars, and the cookbook bookclub. They will be starting “train the trainers” sessions to show trainers how to use the cookbooks to train their staff. She then introduced the other speakers, starting with Jessamyn, then Louise.
Jessamyn’s talk – “6 things you maybe didn’t know about rural technology” – came next. She started with a description of her job, then introduced her talk by saying that she’ll be talking about how to get effective tech into rural libraries – both what works and what doesn’t work.
1. Digital divide “the poor are always with us”
a. Rethink the divide – not just about hardware, also about access & nohow to make use of the network
b. It is real
c. It’s not what it used to be
d. Landscape has changed
e. 23% of Americans have no access at all to the internet/web
2. Donations “hey it’s free”
a. Blessing/curse
b. Open source is not really on the table
c. Based on old ideas of what has value
3. Grants “hey it’s (sort of) free…”
a. Some really help & level the playing field
b. Time limits… “please make yourself obsolete”
c. Hardware/software lock-in
d. Reporting requirement are onerous
4. Tech Education
a. Websites don’t fix this
b. Paper and people are what cost $$$
c. Multiple problems per patron
d. What is a “real” safety net? – figure out the safety net for digital needs as wells as food/medical/etc.
5. Patron Needs
a. Someone in their HOME
i. Encourage them to buy laptops – bring their computers in is almost as good
b. Someone close when they LEARN
c. Someone to help them SHOP
d. Someone to SUMMARIZE
6. What Works
a. 23 Things (LL2.0)
b. Googling error messages
c. Consortia & Leadership
d. Tracking & Counting – as if it counts, because it does
7. Try. Try Again. Advocate. Illustrate. Persevere. Succeed.

Louise Alcorn
Public Computing in a Library 2.0 World
Some rural broadband activism, like in Vermont, but a distrust of consortia, so not much working together – Overdrive project
Told story of wireless access coming via the state-wide bike tour

Online Tools For Training
• Why Online Training (webinars)
o For participants requires only (mostly) a broadband Internet connection
o Reduces lost staff time due to travel
o Can “send” more staff to training
o For trainer/host, no need to worry about location issues
• Web conferencing services
o Horizon Wimba’s Live Classroom

And at that point, my laptop went into hibernation. Louise continued discussing various other training/web conferencing services, then they took a few questions. I don’t remember exactly what was asked – sorry! The presentations are up at if you are interested in checking out more about what these talented ladies are doing!

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