how big is the club: we’re not crossing the chasm with this stuff

Rafe Colburn contextualizes what Jon Udell reframes about what Tim Bray mentions. The big question is how big is the new technology club that either 1) you and your friends are all a part of, or 2) you sort of hear about but don’t quite understand or see the need for? When I talk about Twitter to the library blogogeeks at CiL they’re usually saying “Yeah, love it, tweet me.” or “Not for me, thanks.” they’re not saying “Twitter? wtf?” However when I mention it at home, I have a hard time even explaining why I think it’s interesting, much less how it works.

As 2.0 apps are built on top of 2.0 apps and people can give conference presentations about making Twitter talk to RSS via a jabber server to do things with your library catalog, the gap between people who are just making the foray into email, or even blogs, and the digerati grows larger. Clubbiness can be offputting, regardless of which side of the club fence you’re on. Let’s not forget that we’ve got to be putting out feelers and explainers and breadcrumbs pointing outward to what we’re building as well as inwards.

9 comments for “how big is the club: we’re not crossing the chasm with this stuff

  1. 18Apr07 at 4:56

    I heartily concur and am glad that you raise this issue. Clubbiness is usually unintended, in my view, and may happen without realizing it. There is a lot of it though in the tenor of many library-related blogs, where those who are prominent speakers or travel to all the same conferences tend to sound like a clique to those (like me) who don’t travel in the same crowd yet are interested in or working with many of the same issues and technologies. Thanks.

  2. Joseph Wilk
    18Apr07 at 7:14

    I may be the only one who finds this funny, but after reading this post and all the posts to which it links…I still had no idea what Twitter was. I easily looked it up online, but reading these posts reminded me of what could have been an Alanis Morissette lyric: “It’s like 10,000 posts about whether mentioning Twitter is too insular, when all you need is link.” I hope you take this comment in all fun. I make sure that, whenever I talk about any technology with a colleague, I am querying them to ensure that they know what I am referring to, making explicit the practicality of the tool to their daily lives, give a realistic estimate as to the learning curve and time involved, and stimulate their imagination as to the potential applications and benefits. I imagine that these are the same considerations we would give to our users in a reference interview or library instruction session–so why not each other?

  3. Joseph Wilk
    18Apr07 at 8:19

    Oh, and I almost forgot:

    Here’s the Twitter site.

    Here’s the Twitter Wikipedia entry which (I feel) does a nicer job of explaining Twitter than the site itself.

    At a basic level, I am thinking now about teens specifically in terms of using Twitter to deliver programming reminders to their cell phones. A lot of people on the YALSA list-servs are scrambling to figure out ways to deliver information more directly to teens who don’t really pay attention to their postal mail, e-mail, or Myspace messages. This seems like a great way to do just that!

  4. 19Apr07 at 10:14

    Well, I attended CIL and my reaction to Twitter was wtf?

    I still don’t entirely grok the implications, but several people called it the greatest things since sliced bread, so I intend to look at it more closely when I have time…

  5. 19Apr07 at 11:25

    Well, I dont get Twitter either. But is is simple and easy. So I set up one for the LPI Library (LPI_Library), see what happens. It was free and only takes a minute every day to update. It doesn’t work, not much lost.

  6. Jonathan
    19Apr07 at 11:31

    I’m not even sure what it would mean for twitter to ‘work’ for your library?

    Me, I think there’s a bit too much emphasis on libraries ‘using’ every new-fangled thing that ‘the kids’ are interested in, without thinking about what the point might be, or how this would be useful, or if it’s a wise use of resources (although in this case, there aren’t many resources at stake, so, cool). I think too much of this “2.0” discussion is unconsidered.

    And I say this still considering myself someone trying to drag libraries, sometimes kicking and screaming, into the digital era.

  7. 19Apr07 at 6:37

    One of the cool things about 2.0 technologies (I think) is the whole idea that you can make your experiences of technology, information, conversation, etc. your own. So you can use whatever cool new stuff works for you, and forget the rest. It’s about personalized experience, which is so cool.

    That said, I wonder if a little bit of “clubbiness” isn’t unavoidable, then… isn’t it natural for us to identify with others that choose to incorporate the same technologies into their personal experiences? It would naturally make our experiences similar to one another’s, making it easy to identify with one another.

    That’s not to say that the clubbiness factor is a good thing… it would easily lead us into an echo chamber situation where we get more and more convinced that our way is “right.” Which, again, is against the whole point! Plus, it can come off as rude and offputting, which doesn’t help anyone in this new conversation age.

  8. 20Apr07 at 11:52

    As I see it, the entire library world is one big club, or, at least a universe full of narrow-minded, conservative librarians. I’m a web developer who got his library degree back in 1990. I’ve been trying to get a librarian job for the past few years, but no libraries will have me. I shower every morning, I have excellent social skills, and I’m current on new technology. I’m just baffled as to why libraries won’t hire me. Is it that contemporary librarians are so conservative that they can’t grok somebody who hasn’t worked in an actual library in over a decade? I’ve done plenty of professional library things and stay professionally active.

    What I also don’t grok is why any librarians would still be ga-ga over new technology. I walk into a public library and I still do the same things I did 10, 20 and 30 years ago. I browse the magazines and look at the new book shelf. I guess I use the OPAC to find books (1980s tech) and I make use of the free wireless (except when libraries like SF Public close at 6pm!). What exactly does Web 2.0 do for libraries? I know what it does for the business world, but why is should any librarian get excited over using AJAX for the OPAC? You still look up books by title, author or whatever.

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