September 9, 2009

Libraries and Innovation Journalists

One of the points I tried to emphasize in my talk about libraries and civic engagement (PDF) at last month’s Allen County Public Library’s Library Camp is that this isn’t a new role for us. The easy, soundbite way to explain this is to note that at the turn of the previous century, one of our major roles was to help immigrants assimilate into American society and learn how to be U.S. citizens. At the turn of the current century, there’s a similar need for us to do the same thing for digital immigrants, in no small part because there really isn’t anyone else to help those folks who are past high school age.

libraries teaching immigrants

I’ve been gravitating towards this topic lately because I see so much potential, for both libraries and society, and the following idea makes total sense to me.

From the 2020 Forecast: Creating the Future of Learning site, New Civic Literacies:

“David Nordfors, who runs the innovation journalism program at Stanford, stays studens are moving towards a journalisatic method of learning – finding knowledge, assesing it, and then connecting the dots to build a story.”

Sadly, like the 2006 MacArthur report about participatory culture, the 2020 effort includes libraries in that future only as afterthoughts, no more than potential support resources, rather than central, driving figures. While I applaud efforts like MacArthur’s digital learning in education initiative and the 2020 Forecast, I remain convinced that as a society, we’ll have a much greater impact on civic life for a greater range of people by focusing on libraries as the primary change agent, not schools.

We’re already well-positioned in our communities to be the conveners for this type of activity, we have a library ecosystem for lifelong learning that includes adults (not just K-12 students), we have supporting resources (not just technology, but context), we teach how to navigate information, and we’re the last, safe, non-commercial space that’s open to anyone without any barriers. In fact, quite a few sections of the 2020 site scream “libraries” to me, and I encourage you to read through the various sections.

So while I’m intrigued by and fully support the idea of schools encouraging “innovation journalists,” those programs won’t reach their full potential – nor will the students – without libraries to support them. And when those students get out into the real world, libraries can facilitate their non-school efforts. And we can bring them together with the rest of the community to put those new civic literacies into practice for everyone.

And don’t get me started on the participatory divide….

5:57 am Comments (2)

February 16, 2009

Thomas Frey at TSCPL #staffday

Library of the Future:Nerve Center of the Community – Thomas Frey, Senior Futurist at The DaVinci Institute, presented at the Topeka Shawnee County Public Library

we spend most of our time thinking about the past
– we know about it and have experienced it
but we’re going to spend the rest of our lives in the future
it’s like we’re walking backwards into the future

epiphanies are one of the things that separate humans from animals
every great new business is an epiphany

Frey had “a full category 5 epiphany”
“the life of an idea junkie”
Frey described a time he and his wife were sitting in a sidewalk cafe when he heard a song and used “Shazam” on his phone to find out the name of a song, which he then immediately downloaded
realized that his phone has a camera, too
the future of retail – when you see someone wearing a jacket you like, just take a picture of it to purchase it (just point and click at it)
in the future, all of our body info will be scanned in so that clothes fit the first time
no longer restricted to just what’s in stores
instead of owning a store, owners could hire models to walk up and down the street (not just clothing, but small appliances, too)
any product, anywhere, anytime

showed a slideshow of modern libraries

what form of payment will you put in a vending machine in 2059?
Frey thinks the vending machine of the future will be mobile and will come to you
will know what you want
might even fly

what music that we listen to today, will people still be listening to 100 years from now in 2109?
more importantly, how will we be listening to music 100 years from now?
will it just appear in our heads? will it still come from speakers?
the ultimate music player will have the ability to assess our reaction to the music and will only serve up music tha we react positively to

ultimate drink dispenser will have the ability to assess what kind of liquids our body needs and will only serve up a liquid that we react positively to
knows exactly how much sugar or cream should go in your coffee

the idea of “perfect water”
we all know polluted water is bad for us
if we take everything out of it, it’s less than optimal
somewhere in between is perfect water for each person in the world (6 billion different combinations)
somewhere in this line of thinking is the interface of the future

system thinking
no famous Roman mathemticians – they weren’t famous because they used Roman Numerals, which was a stupid number system
every number was an equation, which prevented them from doing any higher math with numerals
– no placeholder numbers
–> what systems are we employing today that are the equivalent of Roman Numberals?
– Dewey Decimal System, income tax code, “quart of oil”
is there a better system we could be using? invariably there is

Rick Wakeman video, keyboard player for the rock band Yes
he writes music with 64th and 128th notes
the piece he played in the video could never have been played on a traditional piano – needed a modern keyboard

Frey took a class about how to use a slide rule because he was told he had to
end of the slide rule era, beginning of the calculator era
he named the space between the bottom intersection the “Maximum Freud”
a time of lots of chaos but also of lots of opportunity
what technologies are at Maximum Freud anymore?
– fax machines
– checks
– keyboards
– computer monitors and hardware
– traditional television
– sign language
– invasive surgery
– AM/FM radio
– drill & fill dentistry
– the end of wires (telephone lines, cable TV lines, internet lines, and even power lines – within our lifetime)

the evolution of books
in what year will the last printed book be published?
Gutenberg Press – by 1500, there were more than 5,000 books in print across Europe
through the Espresso Book Machine
something like the Kindle may be as cheap as $5 in 5 years
at what point, is it too expensive for libraries to circulate print books?
when do ebook readers become so ubiquitous that it no longer makes sense to print ink on paper?
when does publishing become downloading titles
small projectors built into devices
information displays built into things
what does a book look like in the future?

every forum now is akin to an online forum, with authors, experts and other readers available to discuss and answer questions on almost every important book ever written
books are now conversations?

10 Global Trends
1. more people live in urban areas than rural areas (200,000 people a day migrate)
2. 840 million people crossed national borders, more mobile society (as opposed to 50 million in 1950)
3. number of new product launches (300 per day)
4. 550,000 new businesses were launched every month in 2007
5. more than 50% of all women reported being single in 2005
– more than 50% increase in the number of people living alone in the last 20 years
– counter trend of parents living with adult children – grew 67%
6. the number of people working through retirement has doubled
7. minorities will become the majority in 2042 (30% Latinos, 15% Blacks, 9% Asian)
– interracial families, 1000% increase in the past 30 years
– will stop talking about races in the future because they’ll be so undefined
– rises in the percentage of populations that are foreign-born
8. smaller families, bigger houses (700 sq. ft. in 1900)
9. coming boom in data centers (will consume 3% of global electricity supply by 2010; sometime before 2020 power consumption will double)
10. only 14% of all college graduates live in the U.S.

how long will it be before people can get a Ph.D without being literate?
the first time Frey listened to an audiobook, he thought he was cheating
reading is the process of translating the characters (text) on the page
still do it with sound when listening to books
method doesn’t really matter – it still counts
Socrates was not literate – never wrote anything
wouldn’t know anything about him if Plato hadn’t written about him

is reading the ultimate information experience?
are books a technology equivalent to roman numerals?

future of education
did an 18-month study on this topic
organically generated content (courses) going to a global distributed system
an iTunes-like approach to education
teaching requires experts
we can’t train experts fast enough as information expands exponentially
teachers become a chokepoint

overlay a trend line of courses over YouTube, Wikipedia, and Google, it’s flat versus the amount of information being generated – courseware vacuum
MIT OpenCourseWare (1,400 courses) trying to fill that gap
– 12 universities have joined the OpenCourseWare Consotrium (1,800 courses total available)

what is the most important thing I should be learning today?
kids today aren’t being taught what they want to learn
what’s the primary inflection point for change?
– specially architected rapid courseware building, which doesn’t exist yet

12 dimensions of the future courseware architecture
60-minute learning units
modality and language agnostic (not just computer-based, get credit for experience); courses from everywhere but managed online
smart profiler & recommendation engine (what person is most interested in and what they should take next)
truth & accuracy – a high percentage of what’s being taught in classroom today is theoretical; every aspect of society has its own version of the truth
– need a truth authority? won’t work
– need a checks & balances system where any group could put their stamp of approval or disapproval on these courses
certification inputs – early adopters for this will be professional associations (what constitutes sufficient learning); home schoolers will also adopt this
official record-keeping system
global distribution system

available on demand 24/7, anytime, anywhere
less dependent on teachers and schools, more individual control
general study courses will be priced at $1/course
many schools will use these courses to plan their curricula
teachers will go freelance to create their own courses
students who graduate from the equivalent of high school in the future will be 10 times smarter than students today
the idea of taking K-12 education in one year, which will give rise to celebrity teachers
we’ll know when we get the right system put in place because a million new courses will be created
libraries will become the working laboratories for the creation of innovative new courses
libraries are central to his vision

commodity level – Starbucks
product level – a cup of coffee
experience level is what they concentrate on, though

how do we create the ultimate information experience in libraries?
people are using their own PageRank testing to figure out how relevant the library is to them individually

library as place, as opposed to library as service
building is a gathering place

8 reccs for libraries of the future
to improve relevance in the minds of the community

1. create a search command center in your library; make it easy to people find information
– can look like a lot of different things, but have to help them conduct searches
– really only doing text searching right now, but need to prepare for other search attributes beyond just audio and video (taste, smell, texture, reflectivity, etc.)
when everyone records what their glasses see, we’re spidering the physical world

2. remote office space
– for every 100 people who get laid off, 7 will start a new business (not that they’ll succeed), so will see a new era of entrepreneurship
– “empire of one”
– cloud computing trend = consumer-driven innovation, rise of the power collaborator, economics of IT are changing, barriers to entry are falling (connectivity, reliability, a quality user experience, and security can now all be assumed)
– business colonies – groupings of “project people” working together as projects form, complete, and disappear
—> at the heart of every business colony will be a library
– people who work from home suffer from either isolation or distractions
—> they need another place to go (proverbial “third place”)
if you were to design a library for these people, what would it look like? what features would it include?
remote office space? a telepresence room?

3. production studios
“when the tools of production are available to everyone, everyone becomes a producer” – The Long Tail
transition from consumers to producers
they want to take ownership of what they create
– blogging stations in the library, podcast studios, one-way mirror glass so that others can watch the production of content
—> passive learning to active producing centers

4. band practice studios
there are 2.2 million bands on MySpace right now, and everyone needs a space to practice
if you put in soundproof rooms, they’ll get used non-stop, all the time

5. entertainment studios
gaming now touches 75% of all US households
Second Life and virtual world stations (creating different communication vehicles)
mini-theaters, mini-planetariums that people can use to create content and post it
art studios to make a cultural hub
exercise studios that combine learning and recreation

6. expert series
so many people are uncomfortable with technology, so once a month, could put some tech experts at the front of the room and let the audience ask questions; let the conversation go where it may
social learning
figure out what’s of interest to the community while raising the tech IQ of the community

7. time capsule room
archiving the history of the community
what did it sound like to drive down Main Street? what did it smell like?
create the room but let the public decide what it turns into
many local companies will probably want their organizations archived there

8. poetry park
public placing inscriptions on large rocks set out around a park

electronic outposts/branches
– magazines & periodicals
– reading area
– search command center
– studios
– no books
– efficient operation 1-2 people staffing it

extending influence
very few library haters out there
very little outbound communication – need to change that; weekly online newsletter?

how do we capitalize on epiphanies?
make your library an epiphany center where people can have ideas and then have the tools to act on them

11:29 am Comments (1)