Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Joining Miranda in Awe and Wonder

At one point in The Tempest, Miranda, who has been raised on a desert island by her father and has finally met other Europeans thanks to the shipwreck caused by the title's storm, says with awe and wonder of those others, "O brave new world, that has such people in it." (Act V, scene 1.)

That was pretty much my reaction at reading the 23 Things links to Web 2.0 and to Library 2.0 and the Future of Libraries. (My reaction to the Wikipedia Web 2.0 article was really to the discussion portion.) A more modern term might be shock and awe, minus the heavy artillery.

Otto von Bismarck (speaking of war) is credited with saying "Laws are like sausages: it is better not to see them being made," at Well, let's add to that trends in the making.

In some respects, the discussion portion of Wikipedia's Web 2.0 entry wasn't wildly different from the September 9, 2007 Dilbert comic strip. (A lot longer, less funny, and at times a lot snarkier, yes.) In that strip Asok, the intern, deflects a question about his progress by asking if the company's service is Web 2.0 or 1.0. Predictably, arguments ensue about just what Web 2.0, and the company's service, are. Somehow it was funnier in a cartoon than in the Wikipedia discussion.

I'd like to see Dilbert's take on Library 2.0. Maybe he would just pound his head against a wall -- certainly that's my reaction. I think that Walt Crawford, who wrote the piece that was linked to, might have the same reaction (head-pounding) on a dark and dreary day -- instead, he addressed Web 2.0 on an apparently bright and sunny day, producing all 32 pages of the article.

His bottom line, as I see it, is that Library 2.0 is a bandwagon sent out by a few circus owners; it has captured attention and enthusiasm with something a lot closer to "Hey kids, let's put on a show!" than a show itself. Or maybe it's closer to a pied piper entrancing children ....

The elements that may or may not be part of Web 2.0 (see Dilbert, above, and the Wiki discussion) are tools that libraries can use to meet identified needs. (A tip of the hat to my
tech colleague who repeatedly makes this point in his blog.) Web 2.0 tools are not the only tools; they are tools that in turn use popular methods of communication, and the ability to use them will vary from library to library depending on funding, skills available to the library, and the skills/communication resources of the patrons to be served. (I adore Mr. Crawford for disliking "customers" as the term for those using a library; unfortunately, my library likes it.)

Let's all focus on how we can make library patrons even happier -- they will let us know when they are unhappy -- by using new approaches, just as libraries have always done (see Crawford's article and quotes in it about past technological advances -- like telephone reference.)

Let's not worry if we can call ourselves Library 2.0 or not: heck, let's just all say that yes indeedy, we are a Library 2.0 library, and see if anyone sues us.

23 Things #15.

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