Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Implications of Web 2.0/ Web 3.0 on Libraries

I don't really need to remind you that web 2.0 and web 3.0 are drastically changing our collective cultural and intellectual experience, but I'm typing it anyway because it is on this premise that I wish to begin this blog entry.  I am prepared to cite a few resources I have recently encountered that have brought this fact to the forefront of my mind.  I refuse to allow my psychology to be swept away by this tsunami of cultural change, though I remain clinging to a rock or twig often times while striving to stay current. 

Resource #1: Permanent Adolescence: Why Boys Don't Grow Up. Joe Carmichiel, MSEd.

I read this book based on the reccomendation of an awesome PsyD I know.  In a nutshell, it duscussed various ways that the media has influenced child rearing, especially among males.  The author offers in depth hypotheses on the connection between the violence problem here in Rochester and a careless overreliance on television on the part of parents.  This connection is intermediated by biological gender differences and language skills.  He notes that there appears to be an acute problem among young children who are learning incorrect emotional meanings of words and situations.  There is not enough interpersonal interaction including appropriate emotional responses between adults and very young children.  This book has virtually no reviews to back it up, though it cites numerous scholarly studies.  At the present time it is not owned by MCLS.  I would be highly interested in a book discussion/ community critique focusing on this book including educated, experienced, critical thinking members of this urban community.

Resource #2: http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2012/07/08/is-the-internet-making-us-crazy-what-the-new-research-says.html.

I first got my hands on this article while waiting in line at Wegmans.  Please read this article in its entirity.  It starts out overly sensational, but I believe this was a journalistic technique used to suck readers in.  There is at least some truth to the problem of Internet overuse, and we those of us who wish to happily survive this era of information overabundance MUST consider the effects of heavy technology use on the mind.  There are biological studies to back these claims.  Thank you Newsweek for attempting to inform Americans about what is really occuring not just in America, but in the world right now.  Like it will do any good....

Resource #3: The Power of Now. Eckhart Tolle.

This would have to be on my personal list of the best books of all time.  At the present time I am re-reading it slowly, allowing the concepts to settle deeply into my mind.  I want to know this book forward and backward.  I find it incredibly healing in contrast to the previous two resources listed here. 

My reaction to these concepts has several levels of experience, and my personal beliefs are still evolving.  As a parent, I am constantly pushing back against the media as a protective measure for my two young children.  They want to use TV and Internet resources all the time.  Naturally, this worries me.  My son, who is nearly two years, old finds escape from the pull of media more challenging than my daughter appears to find it.  When he was an infant I struggled with my own Internet addiction, especially facebook.  I nursed him with my laptop on my right, which I deeply regret.  When he was a little older I often used a tablet while the kids were playing on the floor.  This is in stark contrast to my daughter who I spent significantly more time playing with directly.  I protected her from the television based on the recomendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics: avoid all TV under the age of two.  Her language skills were phenomenal.  My son also has excellent language skills, and I do spend significant time working with his language, especially emotional meaning behind words.  He is sensitive, strong, and assertive.  I am confident he will grow into an exceptional man, even if he does enjoy the TV, Internet, and whatever else slides down the technology pike.  I just hope he doesn't turn into one of those gamers.  Enough about parental guilt.  There's more to my thoughts on this than that.

As a librarian I fully recognise the American Library Association's stance on violence in media.  It is an essential principle of librariesthat individuals have a right to freedom of speech, and libraries are bound to uphold those rights.  However, libraries also exist to ensure there is access to balanced information.  We are a cornerstone of democratic society, because democracy must be rooted in educated decision making.  I feel personally obligated to help spread the word to library patrons about the effects of media, web 2.0, and web 3.0 on the mind, while also providing access to a variety of quality resources on numerous interest levels.  This is a fine line to walk, and professional librarians must maintain current training to remain qualified to make judement calls in these regards.  We must also keep our footing solidly grounded in the interests of our patrons, building intellectually supportive relationships in a non-judgemental, balanced, learning environment.  This is no small task.  So who said something about libraries becoming irrelevant? 

We need to also follow the model of meeting patrons at their point of need.  In other words, we find where their intellectual interests begin, and draw out support from there.  The definition of the "location" of intellectual interests has changed as we now have virtual locations such as Facebook, Twitter, public computers within the library in addition to location within Dewey, genre, etc.  Professionally we must guard ourselves against the harmful effects of media overuse while catering to individuals who may be incapable of existing beyond those capacities.  Don't forget to promote reading good old fashioned paper books.  It can be quite grounding. 

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