Thursday, July 29, 2010

Social Networking in Libraries Part 2

So back in part one of this illustrious series (see part 1 here) I spoke about some of the way I thought Libraries and Librarians could implement some of the social networks out there. I wrote that post on June 29th. This is an important thing to remember, beacuse since the 29th a few really important things have happened.

1.) I took ist511, which managed to be inspiring and confusing (see my What do I Want to be post for more on that issue!) and left me re-evaluating alot of the things I had previously thought of libraries.

2.) I took ist600- Social Networking in Libraries. This class finishes up tomorrow, and while I didn't neccessarily learn a whole lot of new information about the social networking tools that are popular now, like Facebook and Twitter, I did get my whole world thrown off kilter when I learned about some of the other networking tools out there. It also made me look at the libraries role as more then just using these tools to connect with the members, but also as teachers and guides who can help members navigate the complicated and sometimes scary world of social networking as we move into the future.

A few of the social media tools that I hadn't really been familiar with prior to my classes are FourSquare and then the broader idea of Augmented Reality.


FourSquare is an interesting phenomenon to me. In a nutshell it is a game in which you check in at different locations you go to, earning badges, and if you visit someplace enough, you can become mayor. From a personal level it seems so odd to me that you would want to not only say "I'm at the Mall" but also add in " 9090 Carousel Center, Syracuse". I instantly thought about things like now people know your home is empty, etc. I was also a bit put off by the idea that you can be somewhere like the Grand Canyon and the first thing you do is check in on your phone. Then you check out who else is checking in at the Grand Canyon and see where they are at and what they are saying. I was put off by this because I feel like getting too caught up in this sort of game means that while you are making huge connections in the virtual world, you are missing out on the ones in front of you. Instead of seeing what they are saying on FourSquare about the Grand Canyon, why not just look at the person next to you and ask them what they think.


Augmented Reality (AR) pretty well left me shaking my head and ultimately feeling pretty sad. I was excited to see how AR could be used in some environments. For instance, someone like me who is a big history nerd, would love to be able to be standing at Little Round Top at Gettysberg, or at Wounded Knee in South Dakota and use my phone to instantly have more information about the place I'm standing. To be able to layer a picture of the aftermath of either event over the view I'm actually seeing is increadibly exciting. On the flip side, the presentation we saw on AR also talked about how you will be able to use that same technology to garner information about the people around you, to see what they are tweeting or posting on face book, to see their stats and even ratings (based on what other people rate you). The presentation also showed how you could aim the app at a home and see who lives there, etc. and then insinuated that if you chose to opt-out of this sort of network and sharing that you will essentially be isolating yourself from your community. There were so many things I saw wrong here. Outsourcing your choices on who to be friends with to the people who rate them, the ability to gather information without the other persons knowledge and ultimately the way that this will remove the in-person, face-to-face relationships that are already becoming scarce. Even typing this I get a sense of sadness at where we may be heading. As someone who enjoys those spontaneous moments where you are standing someplace (we can use the Grand Canyon again) and you see the connection you have with the people around you by looking at them and seeing the same sense of awe you feel reflected on their faces, the idea that those moments will be replaced with looking at a screen is a shame. I hope we don't get to that point.

In the end I took away some great things from the class- the need to be a teacher to community, to not only know how to use the social networking tools to better the library, but to know how to help your members navigate them as well. It all comes down to how do we best serve the people in our community. I'm looking forward to seeing where we go from here, even if that means I might be swimming upstream against the crowd!

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