cluetrain manifesto conference

Saturday’s keynote – Knowledge in the Age of Abundance

David Weinberger, of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, provided our Saturday morning keynote address. He’s the author, by the way, of the Cluetrain Manifesto, which I posted about on the 10th anniversary of that publication on this very blog.
He’s going to discuss what happens with knowledge in this age of abundance. The abundance (1 trillion pages on the web) would have required a mobilization on the order of several world wars – but we did it in our spare time. The age of information (which we are leaving) was about reducing info so that we could control it. Now, the age of the web (?) is about LOTS of information and abundance.
What knowledge was: grew up in a time of scarcity 1) only one knowldege 2) same for everyone 3) binary – at most one can be right 4) it’s simple 5) doesn’t matter who says it – if it’s true, it’s true 6) it’s scarce (most things are opinions) 7) knowledge is settled 8) ordered and orderly.
“our view of what knowledge is is influenced by the media we use to contain it”
Everything going digital changes our tools and changes the way we think.
The authority of knowledge
We create experts who are “expert” in their small chunk of the world – we can ask the expert and then *stop* looking for info – you’ve got the knowledge. Paper (books) is also a stopping point (even footnotes are difficult to follow) and non-transparent.
From disconnected media – to hyperlinks which are transparent and definitely not stopping places.
The new knowledge – a network of differences. The smartest person in the room is not the “sage on the stage”, but rather the room in total. The network of people is smarter than any one.
How networked knowledge can make us stupider

  • can’t find info – no formal distinction between metadata (what you know) and data (what you are looking for); makes things hard to find – the amount of data/metadata is always going to outrun our ability to manage it; good enough, however, is good enough. Most questions are more like “which hotel is best in Silicon Valley”, fewer are like “what is the atomic weight of Silicon” – a factual, one answer question.
  • needed skills make digital divide worse – even as you scale access, if you don’t scale the skills, you are doing nothing – maybe making it worse.
  • only find what we agree with – we stay within our comfort zones (We “flock it all up”). Most conversation is not about changing minds – and very few do. “It’s not a flaw in the system that we have an echo chamber in politics – it is the system. It’s how the system works”.
  • makes us lazy – we can see the argument (Wikipedia’s talk page), but we don’t bother to look at it

The architecture of morality and the architecture of a hyperlinked world are exactly the same. Hyperlinks allow us to link to others and discover their views of the world.
Compassion and curiosity are our bulwarks
A general theory of love was recommended as a book that would complement this keynote well.
another questioner asked if we should be pushing students to go farther than the “good enough” Google search; as librarians, we are instructing them in what is “good enough” for their discipline & needs as well as expanding their view to consider what they otherwise wouldn’t have.


Encouraging Communities – session 2

Viking Village-online learning commons (western’s online forum). Andy Peterson started off with a tour of Viking Village. Lots of personalization stuff, profiles, links to student blogs, galleries of media, creative writing, etc. I may not be able to do a great job of this, though, because she is occasionally talking so fast that I can’t quite follow.. Oh! She’s discussing Drupal and how to use it to create communities online. Very useful for me!!!
Quick discussion of LL2.0 programs. If you don’t know what this is 1)why the hell are you reading my blog? and 2) check the April 07 issue of Library Journal for my article on our LL2.0 program.
Now for their Drupal experience – I’m all ears!!! She suggests using the WYSIWIG editor, which makes installing whatever editor you want easier. She explained taxonomy menu very well, too, as well as taxonomy filter. Sort of odd for a “creating communities that people will come to” session, but useful, nonetheless.
14 days to have your say: ideas posted online for voting and discussion at Andy’s institution. Ok – now I get why she’s spending so much time on Drupal – she has done amazing things to create community with Drupal – it wasn’t as obvious with the staff web, but this 14 days project makes it crystal clear – Drupal has some excellent community features!
Community – Viking Village – used students; gave assignments to “seed” the forums and such with content to give people how to use the site; collaboration is critical

  • educate, empower and involve your staff at all levels
  • and way more, but she is still talking a bit fast…
Web 2.0

Opening Keynote – Mobile Tech, Mobile Users

Yes, it is odd to have the opening keynote after the first session, but that first session was only offered to LITA’s speakers, so it was scheduled oddly… Anyway, Joan Lippencott is going to speak on the topic of mobile tech in libraries.
First, though Andrew Pace pointed out the Twitter hashtag (#litaforum) and the Flickr pics at Pix4Lita. Then he introduced all the amazing folks who had something to do with the conference, finishing with an introduction of Joan.
Joan introduced the CNI (Coalition for Networked Information), where she works, then went into stats on just how mobile our world is… 80.5% of college students own laptops, 66% of college students own an Internet-capable cell phone. She followed up with info for e-book readers – Kindle sales of Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol topped print sales for a short time. She mentioned Twitter taking off (note – I’m tweeting while live blogging, so if I make no sense, cut me some slack) and mainstream press moving to mobile applications (saw somewhere that CNN is #1 paid app for iPhone?).
Will libraries meet the challenges of mobile world? Mobile-enabled content, mobile-enabled services, promotion of content are all important.
Understanding Users
“Smartphones moving from communication devices to information devices”. Kid’s consider mobile phones to be their “best friend” – they would keep those over desktop computers, game consoles and MP3 players. 67% of students in 9-12 grades maintain a personal website – and they want to use their own devices (phones, laptops, etc) in learning. Don’t make assumptions about what your users have/want – find “Informing Innovation” includes survey to get info from your users
Mobile Libraries
Typical – hours/catalog/etc. or SMS reference
Could be:

  • library general info
  • patron records
  • reference transactions
  • info literacy podcasts & videos
  • access to services (booking group rooms)
  • finding open computers
  • access to catalogs, indexes, abstracts
  • access to mobile-configured content (owned by library or free on the web)
  • geospatially linked information (Google maps, etc.)
  • loan of devices

University of Virginia – Library Mobile site; brings a bunch of mobile services together.
arXiv for the iPhone – preprint site in high energy physics (freely available on the web – we should be linking to this if it fits our audience)
Mobile-accessible resources

  • World Cat Local
  • Google Book Search Mobile
  • Refworks Mobile
  • Blackboard
  • Audiobooks
  • IEEE Xplore database
  • J Americal Chemical Society (beta)
  • iTunes U (we, as a public library, should be linking to this, definitely!)
  • Podcasts from research & education institutions

QR codes – some smart phones contain QR code reader in them.
Uses: on books to go to online discussion about that book, on reference desk (after hours) linking to common reference questions, etc.
Services via Twitter
Arizona State U. Library Channel – good promotion of services. Also showed a paper poster explaining (graphically) what services the library offers (tech loaning services, etc) both in and outside the library.
Now is the time to create a full-fledged strategy for “mobile revolution”.
Point made during Q&A – if you participate in World Cat, you have mobile access to your catalog (and someone else mentioned that you can create your own interface to World Cat). Nifty – I hadn’t thought of it that way!

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