Friday, January 23, 2009

Information Finds Us

Roy Tennant kicked off the session, and encourages us to realize that information
Our two speakers:
David Weinberger. Former speech writer for Woody Allen's comic strip!

The Kindle. One significant rev from the Kindle doing to books what the iPod did for CDs. Will make reading social again...rather than something private. (Remember reading on our parents' laps?)

OR...Copyright law. World of books and writing fundamentally change.

We're now in an Age of Abundance. An abundance of good stuff and crap. But we're able to manage the crap okay. What's harder is to manage the good stuff.

Libraries role: social spaces. Access to technology--especially economic disparity. Libraries are sym bols of a community's commitment to equal access.

It also makes sense to have a collection (that we can draw a boundary around.) The idea is that there is a place in town to get knowledge and culture. There is a place where this stuff can be contained and curated.

Books are based upon scarcity...hard to find, hard to publish, premised on scarcity and not on abundance. Books divided into topics, content. Not having links out is an act of stinginess and cowardace. (Stripped of value when they're not connected on the rest of the network.)

As content gets digitized, they become pointers

Manage Abundance.
Warned that we'd be overwhelmed in information. The solution to the information overload is to generate more metadata.

The old way was to physically separate the metadata from the data. But this is impossible in the age of abundance. (There's an implicit set of values and politics in that decision.)

We don't confuse the label with the person.
Metadata becomes the data and the data
Metadata is the thing that you know, and data is the thing you're looking for.

If we're going to manage all this data, we're going to have to do it ourselves. But the old ways of doing things, do not scale.

The Library of Congress experiment. Wikipedia is one example.
We will do it Together. We're just begun to invent some of these things.

And we're not going to get it right. (But metadata will save us...the page needs more sources, more citations. The metadata frees us to learn more.)

It's going to be good enough. Generally, good enough is good enough. In the world of abundance, good enough is good enough. NOW we need the media literacy to know that good enough is NOT good enough (medical information, air traffic control.)

All of these attempts will always be outpaced by abundance. It's yeasty but it's messy.

Our highest calling as human beings--Knowledge. Is being displaced by Google?
No--it's not the highest knowledge. it's understanding. Understanding is plural, is complex, always developing.

We know how to do knowledge and science well. But we're getting an influx now of understanding. The tools are tools for understanding, not for knowledge.

Pragmatic roles will sort themselves out (collection, navigation, social space) but the Symbolic roles (equal access, knowledge is scarce) will change.

Libraries of the future explodes-linked, explodes with content!

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