Lee Raine from the PEW Internet & Life Project was our keynote this morning at Computers in Libraries. He talk was titled ‘Information Fluency: How networked creators have changed the ecology of information and the world of libraries.’
This is going to be a post full of statistics (if previous years are any indication) .. so let’s get down to it.
At the dawn of the PEW project in 2000 there was no wifi and broadband was a rare highly expensive thing. Now 62% of those answering the survey have broadband at home and 53% connect to the Internet via wifi. That said 25% of people do not use the Internet. These are older Americans, disabled people and the poorer population. So, digital divide issues are still out there! Time has made a difference and more people are online now than before, but we’re not at 100%.
That said, people who are online are doing a lot!
- 57% of adults are social networkers (freaking out the kids cause we’re invading their spaces)
- 37% share photos
- 30% share personal creations
- 30% contribute rankings and ratings
- 28% create tags
- 26% post comments on sites
(my question – how many of you allow one or more of these actions via your library website or catalog?)
Lee then spoke to us about the new culture of networked creators who
- have democratized the voices in media
- challenged traditional media gatekeepers
- inserted themselves in “expert” affairs
- enhanced their civic and community roles
- 37% of internet users contributed to news
- 20% had contributed to health content
- 15% have participated in political and civic activities
What are the advantages to this creator role? The new tools are being used as a new way to negotiate friendships, statuses and identity. These people are creating spaces for building social networks among friends and those who share their interests – and these ‘friends’ don’t have to be local people they have met in person. One point that I love (of course) is that they are creating learning opportunities!
Content creation can also be used to solve problems. An example that Lee gave was about a man who had his car bumpers stolen and complained online. A group then formed around this problem and the public searched for this person stealing bumpers and they used online tools to find the man, his family and share the info with authorities. This is just one such example, I have heard about other similar stories. These ‘posses’ can use the wisdom of crowds to share a common purpose and do fact-checking online to solve a problem.
Another such community of content creators is the ‘just in time just like me support group.’ For this type of community, Lee gave us the example of a librarian who had lung cancer and used online support groups to get through it and then developed her own resource to help others like her. These are communities that matter to people because when they have needs they want someone who has been as close to their situation as possible – this is possible because of the nature of the internet – no matter how rare their situation might be.
So what are the implications for libraries? Lee says (and I agree) “You can be a node in people’s social networks as they seek information to help them solve problems and meet their needs.” In addition you can teach new literacies of how to navigate in this new world. Some of these include: screen literacy (symbols and icons and understanding them), navigation literacy (how not to get lost by clicking too many links), skepticism (be aware the knuckleheads can post anything online), the skills for creating content (if you don’t you’re going to be left behind in this new social environment), and the ethics of this new world (librarians are centrally positioned to drive this conversation/literacy).
Great big scary word time … this all all means change. We need to re-vision (a fancy way to say change) our roles in this new world.
And so it turns out I was wrong – not a lot of stats and numbers in this keynote