Blog and Twitter Worlds Collide. . . then Converge?

 

It all started because I Blogged where I should have Twittered. . .   Greg wrote a post called “Stepping into Marketing” talking about Mitch Joel presentation.   And I wrote this:

I actually had Mitch in my Twitter list, but he didn’t follow me, so I took him off. I might put him back though.

Whether or not you think this is curt, whining or stupid, please hear me out.   If I may use a computer analogy, this comment is like a php script accessing a huge database of information.   The script is kind of pointless, unless you know what rich and wonderful data sits in the backend.

If you were Greg Schwartz, someone with whom I network fairly frequently on Twitter and elsewhere, you might understand that I was saying a whole lot of things with that one statement.   These include:

  • “Hey!  I randomly discovered Mitch Joel on Twitter while I was playing around with the Twitter search api and looking for Twitter peeps in Halifax (Mitch was actually visiting Halifax to do a presentation).”
  • I kind of used Twitter as a mini-RSS feed to see what Joel has to say about the world.
  • Twitter as an RSS feed isn’t really that fun.   For instance, do I really need to know what airport David Weinberger or Robert Scoble is having dinner at right now?
  • A better context to use Twitter would be if Mitch and I were having some kind of conversation.
  • Mitch Joel did not seem to be interested in this kind of connection with me (why would he?  he has thousands of followers already!), so I thought I might as well remove him to keep my ability to access Twitter friends under control.
  • “Follow me back” is as good a rule for keeping contacts organized as any.
  • I might reconsider my thoughts about Mitch’s Twitter stream as a mini RSS feed given Greg’s post.

Mitch noticed this comment and it inspired him to write about his Twitter network and how he tries to manage it.   I think it’s a great post.   He sparks a fairly strong discussion about how to manage your own personal network on Twitter, and clearly relates how being a “Twitter snob” is important for keeping his Twitter account organized.

I thought Mitch misunderstood my remark as being upset for being “snobbed.”   After a few direct messages and comments, it turns out that he was merely taking my remark as the point where he made his “Twitter snob” self-discovery, so I am the one who misunderstood.   The thread continues with other comments about how snobbery can be important and how people’s perception of that snobbery is less so. 

I’m still fairly loose about how I maintain my Twitter stream.  I like where its at right now with about 110 folks in and around the library world and Halifax.   I’d venture a guess that 10% are seldom-to-never posters.   Another 5-10 percent are still in the “I’m pretending Twitter is an RSS aggregator” category.   

I follow the rule of “follow me, follow you” as a way of ensuring there is a mutual connection.    If someone does not follow back, I usually have to decide that I am willing to accept this person’s stream as an RSS feed-only kind of thing.   

I think you could probably categorize users by the differential of follower-to-followed.   Those with fewer followers than followeds are likely spam bots or newbies who haven’t discovered Google Reader yet.    Those with few of both probably just want to connect with their friends.   Those with lots of both are like me — looking some kind of information exchange mixed in with a little bit of banter and fun.   Those with lots of followers versus followed are the Twitter snobs.   They have an online presence that has a “fandome” aspect to it and they want to keep their information manageable.   It all makes pretty good sense to me.   I wish it made sense to everybody.   I’ve heard plenty of say about the Twitter friend who got de-followed and took it personally.     Hard to say how people feel about things, but I think some perspective is necessary.   I think this behavior is silly when it happens at weddings and funerals — and this is a freakin’ Twitter account!

In the end, I find it pretty facinating how the differences between Twittering and blogging are beginning to show their beautiful faces.    The blog enables a writer to establish context around comments, and god help you if you miss something in your explanations (like I have).   Twitter’s 140 character requirement builds more banter-ish connections and I find that as I use it more, I assume alot from my readers.    Inside jokes abound on Twitter and god help any non-librarians who are reading along one of my LSW exchanges.   That was my mistake with the comment.

I also think Mitch makes a good point that maybe I should have sent a direct message if I wanted a mutual follow.   The only problem there is that there wasn’t even an anecdotal connect.   I merely wanted to follow his stream to see what he was about.   Then, when I saw he was not one of a bunch who were not following back (for whatever reason), I deleted, thinking — “I can just read his blog instead.”   

Mitch and I are now mutual followers.   In the future maybe Mitch or I will decide that it’s not worth it.  It’s all good.    Who knows how connections get made?    Like Robin Hood splitting the arrow at the archery competition, sometimes approaching things in a good, wrong way is more beautiful than by-the-book best-practises perfection.

So, the trick with Twitter is that you have to manage your networks somehow.    If it turns out that you have to de-follow me on that track, please do not hesitate to do so.    Just read my Passion Quilt Meme post.   I think everyone should provide themselves the courtesy of following a path that works, whether it includes me or not.    My follower list will survive without you, I promise.

 

Passion Quilt Meme

off to work..

Originally uploaded by *Solar ikon*.

Ok I was tagged by Cindi and Amanda for the Passion Quilt Meme. I’m not a meme-ish sort of person — probably because anyone I tag usually does not end up doing the meme.

So, you are supposed to grab a photo from Flickr’s Creative Commons or other photo directory, and caption it with a statement that you feel passionate about for children.

My caption for this photo is:

Follow the path that works.

There’s so much mumbo-jumbo out there, and to be truthful — I’m glad for it. Mumbo-jumbo makes the world go round. If it didn’t, there would be no such thing as YouTube, Flickr or even libraries for that matter. And there’s a mumbo jumbo for just about everyone.

The only problem is when you are following your own bit of mumbo jumbo, realize that it is doing nothing for you and yet you still keep wasting your time on it. That’s when you must, for your own sake, step off the path a bit and move to something better. Do not deny yourself this courtesy. And if you think this courtesy is going to hurt someone you love, well, be gentle yet firm. You’ll probably find that they were on the wrong path too.

No need to be a mumbo jumbo snob, either. To each their own. Love the mumbo jumbo. Be kind to yourself first.

And one more thing. . .. If you are in a room. Look for the person who is obviously out of place: that person who wears a mohawk at a business luncheon; a summer dress in a power suit atmosphere; or whatever makes them look unique in that crowd.

That’s the person you want to talk to to find some wicked mumbo jumbo.   Go say “hello!”

Tagging new Halifax social media peeps:

Ben
Lauren
Carman
Jen
Shannon (who wasn’t there, but said she wanted to be — and her blog is cool and I need a fifth.)

Navigating Online Cultures

I’ve had a tongue-in-cheek post-in-waiting for a while now that would look at traits I notice in online cultures as a way of understanding whether or not a particular service is for you or your library.    It had been percolating, percolating, percolating. . . and then I read Greg Schwartz’s post on Managing His Own Social Network.   In it, he describes how he offers a quiz to people who request being his “friend” because he does not want people in his network that do not want to converse with him.   I appreciate this trait alot.   I met Greg at CIL and you can immediately tell that he does not take interpersonal contact lightly.   He is all the positive aspects of extroversion personified.    I don’t blame him for expecting dialogues from his online friends.   I approach things a little differently, because I am more than happy to have people lurk around in the social networking world (so long as there is no spam).   Like any or all things interpersonal, there’s alot of discretion that happens within and without social networks.   The only way to tell if something is going to work is to try it out.   Or is there. . . ?  

One of the things I’ve decided is very important is to understand a bit of the culture of an online space.  I thought, “If we can look at a few features, measure them on specific scales, and then align them with our own personalities — then maybe we can have a tool to see if the service works for the organization.”    Well, as a tester, I have 12 things that could be assessed on a social site to give a flavor of what does or does not work for individuals or organizations.   For added fun, I gave them goofy names.

Here they are:

Friendsliness  

  • Friendliness would refer to the extent that a service expects you to collect friends as badges on a profile.   MySpace and Facebook would score high on this as they practically force you to expand your network into outerspace.   Twitter, surprisingly, would not rate as high — you can follow, but it really is more on your own terms.  The “friend” aspect of Del.icio.us and Flickr really focuses more on whether an individual likes the content than it does on whether there is a social connection between two or more individuals. 

Ratingsliness

  • How much does ratings matter to a social site?    For sites like Digg, StumbleUpon and Amazon, it’s just about everything.   Del.icio.us, by comparison, is much less Ratings friendly.   Delicious doesn’t care if people think something is cool — they merely want to know how many people bookmarked it.

Folksonomics

  • How important are tags in the service?  LibraryThing and Delicious score high.   Facebook scores low.

Hiveability

  • Hiveability would describe the extent to which a readership needs engagement, discussion and even outright flamewars to remain successful.   I would pit Wikipedia and the Blogosphere high on this scale.

“You Ness”

  • “you” ness would refer to the extent our narcissistic desire to show people our whims factors into the web service.   YouTube is the obvious example, but Flickr applies as well.

Collabability

  • Different from hiveability in that it merely opens doors to encourage more than one user to act on a project at the same time, Google Documents, PbWiki would score higher on this than, say, Wikipedia because they provide easy answers to specific collaboration problems.   One would not want to say “let’s go on Wikipedia to work on a project!”

Anonymanimousness

  • Does it matter to the web service that you use your real name for your identity?   This is an interesting one.   For example, Twitter does not force you to use your real name, but I think it matters alot whether or not you do.   Facebook requires it.   Del.icio.us actually makes it pretty hard to make your identity known.

Dumbanomics

  • This is not intended to be an insult at all.   How friendly and/or forgiving is the service to newbies?   Is there an expectation of lurkership, or can people just go ahead and be dumbasses in spite of themselves?    The easy-to-use Google and Yahoo! products are definitely high scorers for being accessible to just about anyone.   Metafilter would score lower — not because they are unfriendly to newbies, but because they work hard to ensure that the content appearing on the site is relatively asshat-free.

Graphicality

  • Some services depend on graphics more than others.    This should be fairly easy, but Flash/Gaming sites like Newgrounds and Kongregate would score high.   Text-based social sites like Twitter and delicious would score lower.

Contribattitude

  • How much does the site depend on the contributions of users?   Blogger and WordPress are high on this, of course.   Let’s put BoingBoing.net on this one as a second tier, because user comments often add a lot to what they have to say.   Miniclip, the gaming site, doesn’t score high, because if all the reviews on the site were gone, you’d still have the games to play.

Carrotomics

  • Does the site provide something of values in return for your participation?   The classic examples are Second Life and World of Warcraft.  The more you play, the more points, money, levels or whatever you score adding to your prestige.   Your average blog gets attention through usage stats, but that’s not the same — those stats exist anyway, not a “carrot” provided by the service.

Noseyamourousness

  • To what extent does the service enable the nosey online user to peek into the lives of others.   I won’t link them, but porn sites would be an obvious qualifier.   YouTube, Flickr, Twitter, and MySpace all appeal to the nosier side of human behavior as well.

That’s my 12 for now.   Even as I write this, I could go on with more examples.   For instance, how tolerant is a service of profanity?   What are the privacy settings and TOS like?  Add your own, please!  

I also think some of my suggestions could be grouped together to make a more tidy unit of measure.   Let me know if you have any ideas.

I think it would be a good thing to look through this list and see what would match library culture the best.   What do you think?

A Rise in the Halifax Local Network?

Just by playing around with the TwitterSearch API I found a few interesting Halifax Twitterfolk.   One of them was Ben Boudreau another was Carman Pirie.  All of the sudden, my Halifax Twitwork began to expand.   It was exciting — I love discussing things with librarians from far-off places, but I really love talking to people locally as well.   And the crew from Halifax are a great one.

Then one of my posts made it to a local news service call Halifax Infomonkey.

Then, Carman and Ben got the idea for a social networking meeting.   Then I met some interesting people (more or less) who are both local and interested in using social media for new and innovative things.   They even politely listened while I gave my 5 minute speech about our recently CAP-ed off Learning 2.0 program.   I talked about EEE computers and switching to Mandriva from Xandros, what are the barriers to tech innovation in Halifax, and so on.   This was a very valuable meeting and I am glad to hear that we are thinking monthly get-together.   That’s because at least one person said they wished they could come.

One last special thanks as well to Colour for putting up for some snacks.   What a smart bunch of people!   See you next month folks!

Sustainability and Libraries: Is Anyone Challenging Our Assumptions about Digitization?

Among the best things about conferences (besides karaoke, right Greg?) are hearing ideas from people you had not previously met.   One of the memorable conversations I had was with Sarah Cohen about whether libraries were really on board with the what, whys and hows regarding sustainability.  I think we came to the conclusion that libraries & librarians abiding by what others say about sustainability is no longer enough.   We need to be leading, particularly in those areas where we have expertise.

This has been on my mind since about the time I presented at the Information Without Borders conference put on by the School of Information Management students at Dalhousie University (yes, students were crazy enough to put on a whole dang conference while they were struggling through their umpteen gazillion pages of assignments on their plate).  I spoke alongside Stephen Abrams and Mark Leggott (I have the text of my speech “The Triple Bottom Line and Digital Technology” in a Google document) about digitization and we had a discussion about whether libraries can be managed entirely as an open-source shop.  Factors such as the long-term possibility of wide-range collaboration among libraries, monetary sustainability, the feasibility of licenses, the role that librarians play in making opac apis a mess to create and/or use and so on were all discussed.

The Triple Bottom Line and Libraries

One of the things I introduced to the discussion was something I learned while taking an MBA course in strategic management:  the triple-bottom line.   The Triple Bottom Line (TBL) is a way of measuring performance that takes the environment and social responsibility into account to go along with economic success.   When I asked the audience whether the TBL was discussed during the conference about sustainability, it hadn’t been.   And that was part of my complaint — while businesses are almost obsessed about arguments (to or fro) about the TBL, libraries are nearly silent.  Maybe we just assume that we are socially and environmentally friendly because we are librarians?   That’s a really big mistake in my view.

Also in that MBA class, I remembering discussing a case about Nike and the issue of sweatshops.   There were a number of important things mentioned, but some of the biggies included:

  • on the way to normal operations, and with almost entirely good intentions, any organization can find itself doing outrageous harm.
  • top managers in big corporations obsess about social corporate responsibility.
  • justice matters to people.  That includes customers, staff and other organizations.
  • even private business depends on tax-payer dollars (libraries almost certainly do as well).   We need to respect the community that creates an environment for safe, sustainable business to happen.

In my view, libraries try their best to show their success in circulation numbers, reference stats and customer comments.   Do we think about measures in other ways as well?   How do we go about measuring, say, environmental responsibility?   Well, my personal view on this is that if we really cared about the environment we would have had the measures a long time ago.   The lack of benchmarking infrastructure is a sure sign of us falling down on this apparatus.

What Librarians Need Besides a Kick in the Pants

Looking at what I see in the library world, to be leaders where sustainability is concerned we need:

  • Research : the most challenging part of the sustainability equation is complexity.   Where we once may have thought we could categorize certain products or activities as “bad” or “good” for the environment, we no longer can make these assumptions.   Sure, making a book available digitally does increase access to that book, but what about the energy expended in managing servers?   How about the fact that everyone needs a computer in their home and a good amount of space to go with it?   What does a digitized world mean to our life decisions like where we choose to live, the products and services we buy, and the amount of “stuff” we do to live in this kind of world?   Librarians should be asking some big questions here and finding empirical data to find answers.   What does a digitized world mean for real human beings?   How does gaming in libraries effect communities outside the library?  
  •  Benchmarks :  I covered this earlier, but a framework needs to be developed so that libraries can account for outcomes besides mere counts of books read.    What about fuel & energy consumption?  Does your library board get to see the usage trends for gas and electricity?   What about paper consumption?   What about surveys of customer travel over time?   Are our libraries located in the right space to encourage sustainable transport behaviors?
  • Innovation:   Web 2.0 is not the only area where we can be innovative, although sometimes that seems to be the only way libraries can show themselves as “up-to-date.”   How about outdoors activities at your library?   Where’s the section on sustainability and community in the library success wiki? (Note how technology takes up a huge section of the front page).
  • Partnerships :  Libraries absolutely need to understand that their days of pwning the information world are over.   We never could store and maintain the whole of the world’s knowledge and we definitely cannot do it now in a Web 2.0 world.   Our ability to do our job will depend on the work of other organizations — hospitals, universities, large corporations, small business, not-for-profits, web 2.0 services, entrepreneurial individuals — you name it.   Library 2.0, if it exists at all, includes a trust in the non-library world to do library-ish things for themselves and others — with or without our help.  If a service, individual or whatnot is getting people to information in ways that we cannot (think of, say, LibraryThing), then we should be standing beside those folks and clapping hard.   Then we should be inspired to innovate on our own.

In the end, despite all the fun we see going on in the Web 2.0, we need to see ourselves as part of a machine that needs not to kill the environment or marginalize social groups to do what we think is important.   I also think that the burden of proof sits with us — we need to prove we are not doing harm, rather than having someone prove that we are — if we are going to make claims about how important we are to the community, democracy, freedom, happiness or whatever other big philosophic abstract we want to apply to ourselves.

No, Tell Me What You Really Think. . .

People around town have talked about Swift, and some were invited to a feedback session on Swift. Already, comments have come out about that session, and I’m even mentioned in one of them.

First off, based on what I saw at the session, I’m going to respectfully disagree with Meredith who says:

Yes, the emails were annoying (especially when your picture was used in adverts for it… wtf?). Yes, the platform met a need that simply doesn’t exist. Yes, the platform is awful. Yes, the terms of service were ridiculous. But we always talk in this profession about not castigating people for their failures so that they will feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things. And I felt that we did exactly the opposite. There was no telling Kathleen what we would like out of an online conference community. There was very little in the way of constructive criticism. It was largely a venting of spleen.

From my point of view, the problem was less that people were not willing to provide constructive criticism, but that there was no constructive criticism to give. To re-iterate what I said during the session, there was no product — no (or wrong) consideration of what value Swift was going to bring to users. In that realm, there is no consideration of what we would like out of an online conference community, only a “go back to the drawing board and consider user needs.” Sometimes that’s all you have to say. It’s not spleen; it’s feedback. Not everything can be a brainstorm.

Take a comparison: I think ITI got user needs right for the conference. My needs? Top of the line speakers, organized sessions with paths to help me keep things relevant. Great moderators that help both audiences and presenters feel good about the space they are speaking in. Easy access to the internet (the only miss this time around — I’m sure they’ll learn for next time though). Ways to hook up with friends (the wiki and Twitter covered this for me) for social events. An RSS Aggregator to capture the blog posts about the conference (Google Reader covered this for me). And so on. One thing I personally did not need was something to aggregate materials together. There’s a website and a wiki and a whole lot of links to tie the two together. That’s more than sufficient aggregration for me. Then I’ll go to Twitter, Facebook, my Google Reader and whatnot to cover the rest. Then friends will tell me more.

As far as whether our anger castigated people for failures, I do not feel that that was what happened at the session. I think most of the tension resulted from the difficulty that comes from telling someone openly and honestly that a failure exists. More than once I heard “you know, if you want to have us in on the early stages of the process we could probably help.” That’s a pretty generous offer, no foolin’.

The rest of the anger came from a sense of, well, ego. The group in that room did not need to have platforms, TOS agreements and low resources explained to them. We were there to offer what we had in our fairly intelligent minds and having to wait on a sales pitch did not seem to sit well with most of the room. That said, the people in that room were the customers, worthy of an overblown ego. We were giving up something valuable: our open and honest feedback. Having that piece held back created tension, and, as I commented a series of “let’s cut to the chase” moments.

And now I’m going to respectfully disagree (sort of) with Cindi Trainor’s comment here:

However, a fully-functioning Swift or a product like it might be useful for attendees who don’t have time or inclination to follow their own flickr, delicious or blog post RSS feeds. The key there will be unveiling the product in just the right way and providing the *right* information to the *right* group of potential users at the *right* time. …and we weren’t it, but we’re willing to help. Honestly, how many other conference planners would have provided this forum for us?

While I agree with the sentiment — clearly not everyone will be using Twitter and Google Reader and Flickr or whatnot to the extent that I would — I think Kathleen Gilroy and Jane Dysart had precisely the right people there. Most people come to new technologies by asking someone else about them. That’s the way I do it. I’m not cutting edge when it comes to new stuff, so I’m on the lookout for what other people have to say about a product before I spend my time on it. Even if something would totally work for me, I’m not likely to use it until I know someone cool is using it too. I believe that other people are like that too. In fact, there’s empirical evidence to suggest this is the case.

So now here’s my advice, as best I can give it. In the end, I feel the Swift project tried to do too many things at once. That product was way too much for the resources being put into it. I would suggest applying one simple, innovative idea that answers a fundamental need for people at conferences. How about a registration service that gives you a nice page of your conference schedule with some basic resources (presentation info, locations, etc.) to go with it. Then you can hook it into your hand-held or icalendar feed with some alerts. Then provide a simple api and you could (in time) see some Twitter, facebook and etc. action. (eg. I could easily make it so my presentation details showed up as a Twitter status).

If Otter Group did that really well, I would use it — because it would make my life easier. And that’s what a product is all about — value to the customer. Bring me value, and I’ll invite my friends along to make good ole Metcalfe’s law come in to play for good ole lucrative ad revenue.

Finally, I’ll add (as almost everyone else did) that Dysart & Jones did a great job of the conference as usual and in my mind none of this stuff reflects negatively on them. They tried something and it didn’t work. Then they were smart enough to seek feedback for it. I also think we ought not be too worried about them not taking risks. At that level of experience and professionalism, having a few customers angry at a minor piece of the CIL pie is hardly going to keep them from moving on other innovative ideas.

Going to Computers In Libraries

 Just to let everyone out there know that I will be at the Computers in Libraries conference.   I’ll be presenting on Tuesday in Track D about laptop labs in libraries — mostly emphasizing the importance of social interaction over mere technology access.    I’ll be using two case studies at our libraries to demonstrate this.

I have a page on the Computers in Libraries Wiki as well.    If you wan to organize a chat with me, just let me know.  I always find chatting with librarians more helpful than the presentations anyway.   I’ll post my presentations (I actually have both a powerpoint and a script to go with it this time) as well.

Chiming in On the Biggies

There have been a few, ahem, debates going around and I could make a post on each of them, but things have just been too much in my home life recently, so I’m going to chime in one on one.

MLS or non-MLS?

My favorite call on this issue is coming from Dorothea Salo, but there are others by Rachel Singer Gordon and Meredith Farkas. I know great librarians of both the MLS and non-MLS variety. I am one of those who started as the latter and made the decision to got the former. I know the good, bad and ugly in both realms — but most of it from my line of view is good. I hope my colleagues do not see me as a “high and mighty OMG I have my MLS so sit back” kind of person. In fact, it was because I had a mentor that was the opposite of a HAMOMGIHMMLSSSB that I was able to gather the knowledge and skills that make me who I am today. The MLS, well it sort of helped I think. I’d say the MPA helped more, frankly — but I did have the opportunity to meet some very interesting people along the way to the MLS as well — and that did a lot too.

There is one thing that getting the MLS does do, and that is establish an accountability trail which may reduce risk in the workforce. That’s not a whole lot, but I do think it is something. One thing I find interesting is that the blogosphere may be a not-bad proxy for accreditation and the recent blab on the MLS may be a side-effect of this. David Rothman and Walt Crawford are good examples. The contribution that those blogs make to librarianship more than counts for having an accredited degree in my mind.

I think the ALA and librarian accreditation as a whole better start looking to Web 2.0 and social networking as a threat to their credibility. If the Masters is going to mean something, it ought to mean that those who came through the gate had earned it using their head, heart and body — and not just their pocketbook and ahem lips. Dorothea Salo has more to say on this.

Gaming or No-Gaming

I support gaming in public libraries. It seems to me that most of the gaming skepticism comes from non-public librarians, though I could be wrong. There are a few things that I feel are being misconceived here.

  • Public Libraries use gaming to attract teens

That’s not precisely true. If we have public computers, the teens are already there — gaming. Gaming programs are an attempt to channel the gaming energy into a community building experience. It’s noisy; it’s not books; it’s probably more fun than your average taxpayer would like to think a teen should be having in a library — but it does some very important things: a) it builds trust with teens, helping them to see the library as a positive place to be b) it engages them toward other positive — not necessarily toward books, no — but if it is staffed properly, lots of progress can be made toward strong research skills, safe internet use, respect for property, respect for each other and so on and c) it builds community support around the library. Police, Fire Fighters, Health Professionals, Recreation Professionals, Social Workers and more have got behind some of the activities we put on for teens — and that’s because they know libraries play their part to help young people grow into productive, healthy and happy adults.

In a nutshell, teens are in the library anyway — we might as well say “hello” on their terms. If I can go back to my “made-of-straw” non-public librarian again, we cannot forget the essential role (no, responsibility) that public libraries play in community development.

  • Gaming programs are unnecessarily noisy in libraries

Have you ever been around public libraries post-adult programming? You get a group of people excited about a topic, they are going to be chatty, noisy, laughing sort of people. I have also seen a good share of older adults being disruptive, evening bullying to teens simply because they are teens. The library is a public space, shared by many people from many walks of life. There are going to be moments when a public library is not going to be the Mecca you expect it to be. We try our best, but it’s always a challenge to make everyone happy all the time.

  • That’s not what libraries are for. . .

As they say in the unconference world “the people who are here are the right people.” Teens are in public libraries because they need us. We bloody well better serve them. We’ve had board games for years. Heck, I went to the library in my young age to play with the games on the Apple computer way back when.

Media Equity

Michael Sauers chimed on Media equity at the request of David Rothman in an episode of Uncontrolled Vocabulary. And, yes Greg, I will buy a t-shirt. I think I am going to put in a longer post on this issue, but I’ll start my questioning now.

I agree with Michael that policies related to public computers in libraries should try to mirror those for other formats, but I am not yet convinced that this has to do with a principle of media equity. As an avid reader of Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan in my day, I feel that media makes a big difference in communication. Whether this difference can or should influence freedom of information as offered in libraries is a hard question. The only way I can think of to get at the bottom of this is to try as hard as I can to refute Michael’s position and see what I have left in the end. My instincts say that I’ll conclude that Michael is right on this one — however, there is an assumption in favor of individualism that makes me a little uncomfortable in using media equity as a axiom for all service.

I will say that the media equity line does make things easier in the end. Explaining the policy is alot easier too when you treat the computers the same as if they were anything else.