Monday, November 13, 2006

The (Young) User Is Not Broken

With a nod to Karen's now famous June post, The User Is Not Broken, I can offer the cold comfort that we in Libraryland are not alone in the efforts of some in our community to blame library users for not conforming to our world--and in particular, for some librarians being really really annoyed with young people for not being just like "us."

John Naughton is a columnist at The Observer, and gave, as he put it, a rant to the attendees at the Society of Editors conference on November 12. It's quite funny in a rueful, rant-y sort of way so read the whole thing, but this excerpt will tell you why I connect it to Karen's, er, rant (and I mean that in the nicest way):

" any other industry, the discovery that your potential future customers weren't interested in buying your product would prompt an investigation into whether there was something wrong with the product. But what one hears - still - from the newspaper industry is that there's something wrong with the customers. And what one finds, on closer examination, is that the industry seems determined either to insult or to ignore them (my emphasis) [...] These kids have been socially conditioned in a universe that runs parallel to the one inhabited by most folks in the media business. They've been playing computer games of mind-blowing complexity forever. They're resourceful, knowledgeable and natural users of computer and communications technology. They're Digital Natives - accustomed to creating content of their own - and publishing it [...] These are the future, my friends. They're here and living among us. They're not very interested in us, and I'm not sure I blame them. The best we can hope for is that one day they may keep us as pets."

Thanks to the APF discussion list for pointing to Naughton's speech.

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