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* Thursday, May 17, 2007

"The Future of Technology and Libraries" Meeting

I'm in a forest in Maryland for the "Future of Technology and Libraries" meeting, hosted by ALA's Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP). I haven't seen anything at all about this meeting online, so I can't point you to the participant list (which is being crushed by the collective brain weight that is here), expected outcomes, the agenda, etc., but I am hoping that the documents we participants have will get posted on District Dispatch, the Washington Office's blog, soon.

To sum up what I think we're going to do, we've been given five papers written for this event to discuss. There is a respondent panel for each one, along with general discussion. I am still trying to see past the blinding light of David Lankes and Aaron Dobbs, who are my fellow panelists for a paper Beth Jefferson wrote, titled "Web Applications/Social Networking: Potential Opportunities and Pitfalls for Libraries." My contribution will most likely consist of, "Ditto," and "What they said."

I plan to blog the whole day, although I will set down my laptop and enjoy the roast for Rick Weingarten tonight. Rick has decided to leave a huge void as head of OITP and force some poor soul to try to follow in his footsteps as he retires (view the job description if you're interested to try). Rumor has it there will be video of the roast posted online.

I *plan* to blog the whole day, but I've had trouble connecting to the internet here. In my room, which is quite lovely and you can't beat the setting so I'm not complaining, I couldn't get past the terms of service page. I kept trying to agree, but the little circle just kept spinning and spinning. I called tech support, and the guy said, "You're encountering the sign-in page problem." I refrained from saying "duh," especially because he then worked to authorize my laptop to connect. Unfortunately, somehow our phone call got disconnected, so I don't know what he was able to do or not do.

So when I got to the dinner, I couldn't get on the wireless there, either, so thank Mr. Dobbs for last night's blog post, as he gallantly retrieved and lent me his laptop (not to mention giving me his food). You see, *he* can get on the network just fine and even Twitter and Meebo. Me, I can now connect in my room via the ethernet cable, but I can't log in to any 2.0 application. Gods 2.0 are not smiling upon me.

So I can't read Twitter updates, I can't log in to Meebo (although I can run Trillian - go figure), and I can't log in to Flickr to upload pictures. I was discouraged enough to stop trying after that.

But this points out to me one way to describe the difference between Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. I can do most 1.0 things, including read web pages and email via the web (not by installed client, though). But that's not enough for me. I keep thinking to myself, "But I can't *do* anything" (except blog). And that's what has changed. Rather than just being a passive reader, I can't *add* anything, I can't contribute to the communities I've joined, I can't log in to applications like Joost where *I* choose what I want to see.

It worries me that this is how our patrons feel when we dumb down our computers. Walking into a library, expecting to be able to do all of these things, and then finding that social networking sites, instant messaging, games, etc. are all blocked is a barrier. As Mike Eisenberg points out in one of the papers for this event, "it sometimes seems that the policy emphasis is on the restrictive side--on library as enforcer of narrow intellectual property and access rules and regulations." He rightly states that we need to work to "increase the range of services, resources, systems rather than to restrict use."

So I am looking forward to hearing how these folks think we can do that, what ALA's role is, what OITP's role is, and where we're going over the next decade plus. I'll blog the sessions here and hope that OITP is able to start an interactive space for feedback for the event. Aaron Dobbs has already set up a Meebo Room for us at http://www.meebo.com/room/futureofitandlibraries/, where I *hope* to hang out today. If a topic strikes you and you want to do more than just comment here, feel free to start a discussion over on the ALA Members Network on Ning. I'll monitor over there, too.

And finally, since I can't run Joost, extending invitations is on temporary hold until I am home Friday night. Apparently I've never had more than 250 comments on a post before, because I didn't realize there was a limit to how many will display publicly in YACCS. This means I can't even ask others to take over (as they have graciously offered to do), as I am the only one who can see all of of the comments numbered 251 and higher in the admin module. Luckily, I am in the process of migrating to Wordpress (thanks to Jessamyn), but basically please be patient and I'll get those invites out when I can. Alternatively, if you're really jonesing for some Joost, you can resubmit your request over at the lo-fi librarian (thanks, lfl!).


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