The Parallel Information Universe

But Web 2.0 is about much more than the technology—it’s about a change in focus to participation, user control, sharing, openness, and networking.

Mike Eisenberg, Dean Emeritus and Professor, University of Washington, Seattle offers a balanced, thoughtful look at emerging technologies and libraries:

Consider this passage on social networking:

Opportunities Social networks provide an important vehicle to reach important users—upper youths, teens, and twenty- and thirtysomethings. Libraries currently support various real-world groups by providing space, resources and information services, education, and organizing assistance, and many are already experimenting in these social networks. (See for some examples and best practices.) But most libraries could easily do much more for these digital communities. Librarians must learn more about these users and their needs and can do so by participating in social networks, perhaps by offering digital reference services. Libraries need to set up their own social network to serve users. Lastly, libraries might adopt some form of digital social networking as a service itself, for example, by providing instruction in how to become involved and use social network systems.

Threats The primary threat related to social networks involves safety and trustworthiness. This became clear during Kids Speak Out, a forum on technology in the lives of middle school students held in Seattle in April last year. Numerous parents and caregivers asked questions or offered comments about safety. The young people themselves seemed less concerned, noting that they were careful in revealing personal statistics and that they didn’t trust the information posted by those they didn’t know. All students who participated in social networks only did so within a selected subset of friends. In terms of libraries, involvement in social networks poses the same time, effort, and money cost-benefit threat as do the other technologies.

I just caught it and wanted to post here, so I haven’t read it closely – but wowza. Good food for thought. This will surely be a required reading for many of my courses. 

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