~ 20. October 2008 ~
Here I am at Internet Librarian 2008 (IL2008) in Monterey. My first time at this conference—my first national librarian conference in general—and a jolly good time it is. Talks are held in gigantic ballrooms and auditoriums, generally about 1/2- to 2/3-full, though the keynote was very well attended. Long tables near the front and back are set up for the laptop brigade. Live blogging would be the thing, but most of the rooms had spotty wi-fi, and the Marriott, where the keynote and one program track was held, had none at all. Much grumbling about the (lack of) wi-fi.
Tech-geekdom is displayed proudly here. I saw more than one Mac user using the webcam to display themselves to those behind, as if looking in the rear-view mirror. One laptoper sat typing with a green-on-black console open. One attendee with a mini-laptop contentedly played solitaire during the keynote.
Howard Rheingold gave the keynote. He enthusiastically plugged his most recent (but far from new) book, Smart Mobs, and talked about how emerging mobile technologies were being used to enable collective action—of both a positive and negative character, though he was more interested in the positive (responses to the bombings in Spain, etc.). He also emphasized the trend toward openness in the tech sector that some have found to be fully compatible with the profit motive. At times he seemed to sentimentalize the trend, esp. in comments about eBay (don’t middlemen always deal in trust?) and Google (are they really so open?). I was also underwhelmed by the showmanship schtick, in which he promotes himself as a kind of Chaplinesque observer, posing dramatically for certain PowerPoint slides. He also indulged in some breezy anthropology that few in the audience were likely able to evaluate. Finally he plugged a new education-oriented open-source CMS/LMS, the Social Media Classroom, that looks interesting.
Strangest were his closing comments on the role of librarians (to whom, he said at the beginning of the talk, he owed a great debt, having treated kindly by them when as a schoolboy he was sent repeatedly to the library after misbehaving). Librarians, he said, were charged with teaching people how to find answers to questions and to know how to determine whether those answers were correct. Fine, but the kind of collective action he was idealizing hinged upon relatively quick, volatile and unmediated responses to events, rendering the processes of evaluation that librarians generally talk about irrelevent. Are we to think that the citizens of Spain, Chile, and South Korea had been schooled by librarians? The kind of careful skepticism that information literacy promotes would be linked more to incrementalism than the kind of mass political action that so excites Rheingold.
No discussion after the keynote. No time.
~ 21. August 2008 ~
Maybe this was all that was needed all along? Available (in several variants) here.
~ 28. July 2008 ~
Which I find odd. Apparently Notre Dame High School in New Haven, CT had an unsuccessful information literacy module… Link here
, but you need to be logged in to Facebook to view. For brevity’s sake, I quote:
This group is for anyone that think Ebsco sucks and hates looking through all that crap it pulls up. You can type in the most specific subject and u just get a bunch of crap that has nothing to do with what your supos to be looking up. and for people who hate when librarians think its the best thing in the world . because we all know we’re just gona use Google anyway.
~ 20. March 2008 ~
I came across two interesting sources for tutorials. One is the Slideshare page for University of Michigan Health Science Libraries. Good stuff; check out, for instance, their Google Advanced Search tutorial.
Also interesting is the ANTS (Animated Tutorial Sharing) project. This is a collaborative effort to create a community around tutorial creation and use (see the wiki). They maintain a list of tutorials needed, host discussion forums, and allow registered members to upload tutorials to their DSpace server. I’m not clear on all the details. For instance, the tutorials are in raw SWF form, so I guess you’d have to construct the proper code to embed them on a given site (it’s not handed to you as it normally would be in a Web 2.0 site). They also host many (all?) of them on screencast.com, making them easier to sample.
~ 10. March 2008 ~
There has been a lot of discussion on a couple listservs about an article called “What to Do With Wikipedia” (see also earlier entry on this topic). I think the piece is just a bit overwritten, but that may be a result of the topic being overwrought for so many in the library world. The author’s main point is that Wikipedia’s value as a reference source is clear and irrefutable, and we need to set about helping students use it critically rather than discouraging them from using it. He also suggests that teaching faculty ought to make contributions toward improving it, both on their own and as class projects. I find this take on the topic very appealing.
Saw a reference to this e-journal issue on Google and Librarians. Maybe worth skimming!