The Shallows by Nicholas Carr – A TTW Guest Post by Dayna Armstrong

Context Book Assignment: The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

For my context book assignment I admit that I picked my book solely based on its title. The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr was my first choice as I found the title very thought provoking and I immediately asked myself “What is the internet really doing to my brain? Has it really done anything at all? How do I know if it has? I knew it was the book for me when it got me thinking before evening reading the first page.

After reading The Shallows, I was left both in awe and horror over how much influence the Internet has had over my ability to concentrate, contemplate, and engage with both print based and online information. I can remember back to a time when reading was a luxury I treasured. I could immerse myself within the confines of a book for hours, never tiring, and always craving the words on the next page. However, that voracious love of deep and meaningful reading has slowly given way to adult bouts of ADD where reading the contents of a lengthy article or book in now more of a chore than a pleasure. I ask myself ‘has my love affair with the Internet sacrificed my ability to engage in more than surface level reading? Is the quick, disjointed, and distracted information so readily available at the stroke of a button worth the slow demise of my ability to engage in the act of reading wholeheartedly, not distractedly and fragmented, impeded by my need to “stay connected?” These are questions I believe many of us have asked ourselves or should begin to ask ourselves. As information professionals we need to start thinking about how the Internet driven brain impacts our profession and more importantly how can we support the idea of tradition versus innovation when today’s brains seem to be wired for instant access not technologies of days gone by. This has been an issue at the forefront of the profession and library’s have responded and will continue to respond to this shift in user ability, demand, and need facilitated by rapidity of the Internet.

What I loved most about Carr’s book is that he raises the question of how have “tools of the mind” which have been in a progressive state of evolution over the last few centuries, altered and reshaped the way we think and interact not only with information but with each other? From the creation of the alphabet, to Gutenberg’s printing press, to the Internet today, Carr charts an evolutionary course which transcends the human mind past the realm of intellectual engagement, connection, and community, into what he calls the “intellectual shallows.”  I ask myself and others, how do we navigate our way through these so called “intellectual shallows?” I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer to this question.

I think today’s librarians can glean a lot from The Shallows in terms of how a patron’s rewired and remapped “Internet” influenced brain impacts library service and ways in which they can as library professionals support this “mental evolution” while still holding true to traditional values such as deep reading and fostering of a user’s deep level knowledge and understanding. Today’s libraries have already embraced and adapted to this change in numerous ways, as most public library’s today are no longer synonymous with the term “oasis of bookish tranquility” instead becoming buzzing hubs of information and constant connectors between users and information via the Internet, “The predominant sound in the modern library is the tapping of keys, not the turning of pages” (Carr, 2010, pg. 97). By providing access to the Internet, digitizing materials for easier access, and facilitating and nurturing online communities, hyperlinked libraries are continually working to appease brains that are in a constant state of flux. The DOK library instantly comes to mind as they have been able to fuse this love of tradition with the need of innovation spurred by the Internet. Their use of technology as a means of reinforcing community and culture is important as it does so in a way that meets the needs of Internet wired brains where immediacy, relevancy, and innovation is key in keeping them connected not only the library but to their community. The demise of the “human elements” Carr speaks about is kept very much alive at DOK as technology and the Internet are not seen as opposing forces to a library’s humanness rather a companion that helps foster communication, interaction, collaboration, and community.

“To remain vital, culture must be renewed in the minds of the members of every generation. Outsource memory, and culture withers” (Carr, 2010, pg. 197). This quote resonated with me and got me thinking about how through hyperlinked libraries and participatory service, community culture is cultivated, fostered, and celebrated by engaging patrons in storytelling, sharing, and collaboration through the use of technology which works to digitize, preserve, and share a community’s cultural fabric and memories. I think one very important aspect of hyperlinked libraries is that they strive to keep communities connected to culture through the use of various technologies none of which work to supplant the beauty and power of a tangible, personal, and heartfelt interaction, but rather serve as a supplement. Much of Carr’s book focuses on the idea that “human elements are outmoded and dispensable” and that the Internet has the power and capacity to make the human mind in some ways obsolete and a “slave to the machine.” But I argue that this form of enslavement is somewhat self induced. We as a society love the seductive allure of the Internet and its ability to keep us connected and relevant. I believe the Internet has changed the way I think but not necessarily for the worse. Yes I may not be able to read as in-depth as I once did, but I have access to a plethora of information I can utilize for the good of others and as a library professional can help use that “rewiring and reprogramming” to help guide and support the information needs of my users who also find themselves trying to navigate the unchartered waters of the “intellectual shallows.”

I could write pages upon pages about my thoughts on Carr’s book but instead I decided to create a brief Animoto video which highlights key points, quotes, questions and ideas I pulled from the text and its connection to hyperlinked libraries and the library profession in general. This video is for those of us whose brains no longer read lengthy paragraphs with ease! Its purpose is to get you thinking about how the internet has changed your brain (whether positively or negatively) and how this rewiring, remapping, and reprogramming of the mind impacts your role as a library professional. I hope you enjoy!

My Animoto Video (2 min): http://animoto.com/play/EzermFC0VVqog9Ywj01oKg

References
Carr, N. G. (2010). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.

 

DaynaArmstrongDayna currently resides in Northern California and is currently in her last semester of San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science. Her program focus has been academic librarianship and she hopes to integrate her love of social media and technology into future positions. In her spare time she loves reading, hiking, and spending time with her husband and their five cats!

Creating Library Currents in a Web 2.0 World – A TTW Guest Post by Mickel Paris

After completing Dr. Stephens SJSU online course in Fall of 2012, I was inspired to develop a personal blog on library innovations and social media in libraries. In many of our course assignments and projects, we explored and played around with Web 2.0 tools, and using templates developed by Professor Stephens, we trained on how to implement these tools in our libraries and personal lives. We learned how to talk about them with others, from our patrons to our administrators. Blogging about my two loves – social media and libraries – would become a worthwhile cause.

The Social Media Plan – http://librarycurrents.com/series/planning-lc

One of my favorite assignments in The Hyperlinked Library was the social media plan. Imagine a strategic plan, marketing plan, bibliography and road map that can be implemented tomorrow, and you have Dr. Stephen’s social media plan. I immediately saw the appropriateness and applicability of the social media plan in developing a professional blog, and approached Dr. Stephens in the Summer of 2013 to be my faculty advisor for an independent study project (LIBR 298) entitled “Library Currents.”

In the planning phase, I determined a general concept for Library Currents (www.librarycurrents.com), which was to create a blog that reviewed social media technologies and included them in a directory that librarians could assess for reference work. But I had to keep my mind open to other avenues of content, if the audience for social media in libraries wasn’t there. My first order of business was to create listening posts using RSS feeds and social network news feeds, such as those found on Facebook and Twitter. I added feeds of authoritative blogs and library-related organizations to not only listen to what they had to say about emerging technologies, but also to converse with them as well.

Listening to the Conversation – http://librarycurrents.com/series/research-lc

In the research phase, I read papers provided by Dr. Stephens on his research in social media and Web 2.0 technologies, while also listening to the RSS and social media feeds that I set up in the planning phase. I followed Pew Internet Research data and reviewed the recent literature both online and in scholarly journals to determine if a library blog focused on social media would have any legs. What I discovered was eye-opening.

I learned that social media doesn’t necessarily stand on its own. In my research, I discovered that social media was intertwined with other types of innovations, such as emerging technologies, augmented reality, and informational trends. With this information, I knew that Library Currents would focus on broader library innovations combined with social media.

The planning and research phases ended with the development of a 7-page social media plan for the Library Currents blog. The final version of the document can be found at: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2EVnCwWuZE5UFB1Z1JoTVo1SGs

Putting the Plan into Action – http://librarycurrents.com/series/implementation-lc

In my research during the implementation phase, I discovered that WordPress, Drupal and Joomla were the top three open source content management systems (CMS) internationally. I decided to try out and create demos of each CMS, grading them on a 100-point scale in areas such as user experience, functionality, and development capability. WordPress scored the highest among the three CMS platforms, and a clean copy was installed for use as the CMS of Library Currents. A cost analysis was performed in time and finances, which is detailed in the implementation report, found at https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B2OLXz0nbffdc0dIazRLVGJWM28/

Creating Content and Evaluating the Site – http://librarycurrents.com/series/content-creation-evaluation

In the final phase of the Library Currents blog project, I created content using the new WordPress interface, and populated the Library 2.0 Directory with web 2.0 and LIS resources. The resources uploaded into the directory would be the subjects covered in my blog postings, making the directory complementary to the blog. For evaluation of the new blog’s design and content, I created a poll using Survey Monkey, and would create more assessments going into 2014. Future posts will discuss results of the surveys and implications for site improvement.

Riding Library Currents into the Future

When I started the Library Currents project, I wondered what the blog development process would look like if I left no stone unturned. I knew that the social media plan would be an excellent way to do this. The plan works into the future five years, and includes personal investment in networking at conferences and other important activities to grow conversation on the website, such as inviting guest bloggers on Library Currents.

When you learn about and apply the concepts of The Hyperlinked Library, you become an advocate. You turn towards many of the key ideas in this philosophy to develop library service, whether the service is in a building or on a blog. The plan I created holds true to the value of The Hyperlinked Library, from creating conversations about the role of innovations in library service, to avoiding technolust by researching software and doing your homework before going out on that limb. And I do get to play around with new technologies and have some fun, too! With the newly launched Library Currents blog, I feel like I can begin my true work in advocating for participatory library culture.

Mickel Paris

 

Mickel Paris is a third-year MLIS Graduate student at San Jose State University and dreams of world travel. He is the creator of the Library Currents blog and dabbles in web development and social media strategies for Los Angeles area clients. To keep up with his future posts, you can add him on Twitter @librarycurrents

#officehours: “Notes from a Small Island”

topofthelake

My new column is up at Library Journal and it’s all about the incredible community of LIS folks in new Zealand:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/12/opinion/michael-stephens/notes-from-some-small-islands-office-hours/

Something struck me about this conference, in addition to my interactions with the library folk I met as we traveled down the North Island, stopping in Wellington for a talk I gave at Victoria University and on to the South Island. At a combination #hyperlibMOOC and library folk tweet up held at Pomeroy’s Pub in Christchurch, I finally asked the assembled group, “Why does the LIS community here feel so cohesive and tight-knit? Is it the isolation?” Between the pub chat and the question I threw out to Kiwis in my Twitter network, the ideas flowed:

“Tight-knit for sure, but many local authorities in NZ are becoming smaller, and there are fewer employing authorities, so librarians are working in larger organizations and tend to meet one another more often,” said Brendon Moir, system analyst for the digital library web team at Christchurch City Libraries. “The local and national partnerships between libraries have become really important, and this will only increase.”

Here’s a shot of the epic conference dinner:

IMG_7696

More photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelsphotos/sets/72157638183133045/

#hyperlibMOOC: “Opening Up: Next Steps for MOOCs and Libraries”

hyperlibMOOCThe #hyperlibMOOC is included in this new article at Library Journal:

http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2013/12/digital-content/opening-up/

In the Hyperlinked Library MOOC, Stephens modified the common MOOC style of watching a video lecture or reading a lesson and then taking a quiz on the covered material. Instead, student work is reviewed by their peers, who offer their thoughts on what’s working and where there’s room for improvement. Stephens, Jones, and a team of assistants also view the work, but peer evaluation is a huge asset to the structure of the course, Stephens says.While the first course offering hasn’t wrapped up quite yet, he Stephens said that more than 100 of the 363 students registered for the course are well on their way to completing the coursework. Like Lankes, he notes some problems with the pacing, a dilemma he attempted to approach by introducing a week-long break in the course to let students catch on assignments without missing new material. While that sort of break can be a luxury for full-time students, when working with professionals with careers outside the classroom, it may be necessary, said Stephens.

And it’s not just peers in class that are looking at one another’s work. Since the course is open to the public and not protected by a password, anyone can take a look at the ideas being discussed and weigh in on them. “We just did a Q&A in a Google Hangout,” says Stephens. “Not only is that going up in the MOOC space, but it’s being tweeted and reshared in other places as well.” Taking cues from social media not only helps students feel more connected to one another in a MOOC environment, Stephens says, it also makes them more connected to the world at large, citing instances where the authors of readings for the course have weighed in on assignments regarding their work, much to the delight of students in the course.

The next step, as far as Stephens sees it, is taking MOOCs to even larger audiences, including those in far-flung regions who might most benefit from group learning to which they otherwise may not have access. “Reaching isolated librarians with this type of learning will probably be one of the biggest impact factors of this MOOC,” says Stephens.

Problems with Evaluating: (Part 2) Affective Science & Information Literacy by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

I have long been interested in the idea of why we believe what we believe. I have been interested in this relating to information literacy instruction. How do we evaluate sources and how do we make decisions about what counts as truth? Recently, I have been doing some reading in psychology and neuroanatomy focusing on the complex ways that the brain utilizes outside inputs to make decisions. This research highlights some disconnects and points where our practice, as instructional librarians, may be falling short with these new developments in the literature.

Over the history of the 20th century the emotions and affective reactions were largely ignored by psychology. In the last two decades, researchers have presented a broader understanding of the fact that emotion plays an underlying role in all kinds of decision-making. Our moods and emotions color all of our interactions with the world whether we realize it or not. It wasn’t that long ago when most cognitive researchers believed that each region of the brain performed a specific function, and it was generally held that the limbic system dealt with emotion/affective reactions and the frontal lobes dealt with cognition and analytic thinking. Recent research has shown that the picture is much much more complex. The picture that is emerging is one where personality, decision-making, emotions, etc result from combinations of activity within the brain. Importantly, analytic activities (such as interpreting information) activate a whole range of brain regions especially those more associated with affect.

swansonphotoI am concerned that many librarians (myself included at times) still hold the view that our brains are like recording machines capturing all that happens around us. The learning process is then equated to information processing as if we are walking computers. Students simply absorb data, compute this data, and arrive at the logical conclusions. Naturally, we know that this view does not represent reality. In the abstract, we know that different people will reach different conclusions. But, in practice, I wonder if we think that given the same facts, all of us would achieve the same answer? I often hear academics speak with trepidation about the online, political echo chamber. We rant about anti-scientific views that are shared across social media.. What underlies these rants and fears? I often suspect that it is the assumption that the computational machines that we teach do not agree with us.

Increasingly, brain research is showing us that not only are we not computational machines, but we are more life belief machines. Our beliefs are our shorthand to understanding the world. Our understandings about how the world works and that emerge within specific situations greatly influence decision-making. These beliefs help us filter what we see help us recognize what is important and help us know how to handle particular situations. Clearly, psychologists have been building the picture of the believing brain for many years, but the revelations resulting from brain imaging are starting to reveal the mechanisms at work.

This quote from The Believing Brain: From Spiritual Faiths to Political Convictions by Michael Shermer is telling concerning right and wrong:

“In fact, research now overwhelmingly demonstrates that most of our moral decisions are grounded in automatic moral feelings rather than deliberatively rational calculations. We do not reason our way to a moral decision by carefully weighing the evidence for and against; instead, we make intuitive leaps to moral decisions and then rationalize the snap decision after the fact with rational reasons. Our moral intuition – reflected in such conservative-liberal stereotypes- are more emotional than rational. As with most of our beliefs about most things in life, our moral beliefs come first; the rationalization of those moral beliefs comes second.”

The jump from neuroanatomically-based brain research to a one-shot, information literacy classroom may feel like a quantum leap, but I have always felt that teaching students about information is at the heart of what instructional librarians do. If information literacy is truly a vital skill for lifelong learning, then it is upon us to make these leaps and recognize the implications for our practice and for our learners.

If you are curious about some of the books at the top of my reading list, I would suggest

  • Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman
  • Believing Brain by Michael Shermer
  • The Emotional Life of Your Brain by Richard J. Davidson and Sharon Begley

Feel free to add additional titles in the comments below.

 

Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the author of the book, Managing Social Media in Libraries. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

Problems with Evaluating: (Part 1) Predictive Judgments by TTW Contributor Troy Swanson

The study “Judgment of Information Quality and Cognitive Authority in the Web“ by Soo Young Rieh is one of those studies that I keep coming back to throughout my career. (I have mentioned Rieh’s study in previous TTW posts Things We Do in Private,  and I Don’t Get Discovery Platforms)

I like this study, because Rieh gracefully hits upon a key difference between expert and novice searchers, which is the ability to make predictive judgments. Expert searchers have a feeling for the domain of knowledge in which they’re searching. They have an expectation for a quality and scope of information and therefore are able to make predictions about what they should find.

swansonphotoAdditionally, they are able to use this knowledge to select appropriate places to do the research. They purposefully select between Google, Google scholar, subscription tools, library catalogs, etc based on the information they expect to find most useful. Not only are experts able to navigate the information world more efficiently, but they are more able to recognize context and meaning.

I have found Rieh’s work (and others like it) to be compelling, because it highlights the complexities around “evaluating” information. It also highlights the failings of the “evaluating information” construct.  I think most instruction librarians who think about information literacy recognize that the research process is non-linear. Even if we write “finding, evaluating, and using” information, we do not really mean working through these steps linearly. This whole “evaluating” information concept is actually infused throughout the entire process:

Topic conceptualization: At a basic level, this involves thinking about what is worth knowing and ways in which I can actually know about these things.

Tool selection: This is a value judgment based on my predictive judgments. What kind of information has value and where does it live?

Evaluating search results: After I have performed a search, I must review the results and make another predictive judgment about the appropriateness of my search. Are the results relevant to my need? If not, should I change my search terms or search in a different tool?

Evaluating sources: Once I have a source in hand, I then need to make a value judgment based on the source’s authority. Do I trust this source, and if I do, how does it fit with my existing knowledge.

Reading a source: As I read and take notes on a source, I draw on my expectations for credibility/quality as I interact with the ideas presented by the writer.

Using/synthesizing information: As I write/create, the value judgments I have made about sources direct the ways that I use and incorporate outside ideas into my own ideas.

It may be an understatement to say that new undergraduates do not often think along these lines. Instruction librarians working with faculty members have an opportunity to point out where predictive judgments must be made in the research process. Teaching students about information is important, and even in one-shot, information literacy sessions, there are opportunities to highlight the hidden decision-making processing within the research process.

 

Troy A. Swanson is Department Chair and Teaching & Learning Librarian at Moraine Valley Community College. He is the author of the book, Managing Social Media in Libraries. You can follow him on Twitter at @t_swanson.

 

#hyperlibMOOC Article: MOOCs for LIS Professional Development: Exploring New Transformative Learning Environments and Roles

I have an article in the Fall 2013 issue of Internet Learning

MOOCs for LIS Professional Development: Exploring New Transformative Learning Environments and Roles

Abstract

The rapid development of emerging disruptive technologies is a driving force behind the evolution of the library and information science (LIS) profession and is causing a redesign of the traditional approaches to LIS professional development. Historically fairly static, LIS environments have evolved into dynamic reflections of the enormous societal changes occurring as a result of open communications and access throughout the Web. In addition, 21st century LIS professionals must consider and prepare for the new roles they might play in network-enabled, large-scale learning environments. Several decades of research on self-directed learning (SDL) have shown the social, non-linear, and serendipitous process to be transformational. LIS professionals, who once relied upon yearly conferences, employer-provided seminars and workshops, and association newsletters in order to update their knowledge, have embraced SDL opportunities to expand their understandings and skill sets. The first wave of SDL and networked platforms for LIS professional development (Learning 2.0) may have been precursors to the connectivist learning environments designed into the free, not-for-credit, massive open online courses (MOOCs). Because these new environments of participatory and transformative learning offer the potential for LIS professionals to test emerging technologies, experiment and play with new roles, and self-select teams for collaborative artifact creation, the author has adapted his existing online graduate course, called the Hyperlinked Library, at San Jose State University’s School of Library and Information Science (SJSU SLIS) in order to explore how LIS professionals can use emerging technologies and participatory practices to serve their communities. Launched in September 2013, the Hyperlinked Library MOOC pilot (#hyperlibMOOC) provides a sandbox in which LIS professionals and students can play the roles of learner, connector, and collaborator in a self-directed yet social learning experience. Results from the pilot course will contribute to a better understanding of how the not-for-credit MOOC can serve as a transformative environment for professional development.

Acknowledgments

Thanks to SJSU SLIS student Margaret Jean Campbell for her invaluable assistance editing and formatting this piece. Thanks to Kyle Jones, PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s School of Library and Information Studies and SJSU SLIS lecturer, for his incredible work designing the site architecture and for co-instructing the Hyperlinked Library MOOC.

The issue Table of Contents is here:  http://www.ipsonet.org/publications/open-access/internet-learning/volume-2-issue-2.

#YLIBRARY Writing Competition Winner: What will never change?

I am LOVING this:

The winner of the #YLibrary of the Future Writing Competition is Sophie Manion. Sophie will receive an iPad mini. Congratulations Sophie!

Here is her winning entry:

I want to hear the voices of a million lives. I want to brush their hearts with the tips of my fingers and feel as they feel, with their skin and their lungs and their ears. It takes a moment – a light on a screen, a battery cord plugged in – but then I can. In a moment I am timeless. The library is a passport to worlds that exist only in the mind. I am lost amongst these places with my greatest friends, my most treasured heroes. Words can transport me. I can listen or I can read but I will always experience. It doesn’t matter whether I can touch the ink, smell the fresh pages or instead, scroll down the electronic page with a gesture of my hand. The future is a grand place but it is those words, the magic that I can only find in a library, that can teleport me away to somewhere I’ve never been. Whether I walk through those open doors from my computer, or on my phone, or physically – I will always find a new world waiting in that maze of books. There are some things that will never change.

Read more #ylibrary postst here: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/slq-today/category/ylibrary-2/

My post “Making the Case for the Library to be a Space for Infinite Learning” is here: http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/slq-today/2013/11/26/ylibrary-making-the-case-for-the-library-as-space-for-infinite-learning-by-michael-stephens/

 

#ylibrary: Making the Case for the Library to be a Space for Infinite Learning

I was honored to be asked to contribute an essay to the State Library of Queensland #ylibrary project:

http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/slq-today/2013/11/26/ylibrary-making-the-case-for-the-library-as-space-for-infinite-learning-by-michael-stephens/

A snippet:

This isn’t a new idea. The Melvil Dewey quote that I used to open this essay resonates with me. “The time is when the library is a school and the librarian is in the highest sense a teacher…” He wrote that in 1876, and as librarians, we are evolving, and it is still true. Librarians should seek every opportunity to be teachers in their communities. Library users should look to the library for opportunities to experience new things, new ideas, and new technologies

Click the link to read the whole thing.  And here’s a link to all of the essays:

http://blogs.slq.qld.gov.au/slq-today/?cat=ylibrary-2

People, Libraries & Technology – A Weblog by Michael Stephens