Monday, November 14, 2005

Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Day 1: Paul Saffo

Day 1: 14 Nov 2005. Conference started at 9am this morning. Too bad they didn't have WIFI. I thought I could try out blogging 'live'.
Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Day 1

Here are some personal notes taken from Paul Saffo's keynote address, "Knowledge, Media and Libraries after the Bubble". Paul is the director and Roy Amara Fellow, Institute for the Future, USA (words in square paranthesis [ ] are mine. Any inaccuracies in the recording or interpretation are my own):
  • He suggests that the Information Revolution is over. That we should drop the word "information" and replace it with "media" -- that we're at a stage of a"media revolution" like how mobilephones are no longer communication devices but media devices as well, with camera & video features.
  • There is a shift from mass media to a "personal-media" world. Users expect to answer back [similar idea to a prod-user].
  • Libraries have shifted or should be shifting from a place whereby "we don't anybody talk" to a place where conversations take place [sounds very cluetrain-ish].
  • In an age of mass media, everyone sees the same thing. But in age of personal media (which we're at), we don't receive the same information and we may even surround themselves with information that reinforce what we already believe in. Suggests that society is in danger
  • if nobody has any shared knowledge (I think he meant "shared values"). It may give rise to "new superstitions" (e.g. religious fundamentalism). Libraries have a role in this battle against misinformation.
  • It takes time to develop an "attitude of information indifference" where we question the quality of information.

Aside: Paul shares a picture he took at an unnamed airport, where the "Airport Police" and the "Information Desk" services were listed on a signage that inadvertently read as "Information Police"! That got some laughs from the audience.
Celebrating Knowledge Conference - Day 1

More notes:
  • Machine-to-machine conversation is going to dwarf human-to-human ones. He asks if customers of libraries of the future be machines rather than human.
  • Could libraries be setup under the same premises as GeoCaching.com? Where a hole in an oak tree could be a "library" for people to be discovered?
  • Paul wants parents to talk to kids on how to download ringtones etc. Says that it's a dangerous situation when we don't know or show no interest in new technology that the young are picking up [I agree. If we don't even genuinely attempt to find out what that new technology is about and why kids rave about it, we inevitably set ourselves up for making certain assumptions. We either dismiss the new technology as something without practical use or we ban their use because we think it's dangerous -- like students & blogs].
  • Paul says there's no substitute for direct experience. [Most certainly! That's why many people who assume blogging is something to be "feared" just don't get it].
  • Insights to the future of the library profession may come from playing and creating online societies like SecondLife.com & Everquest. Paul cited that these online users spend up to 30% of their gaming time creating and building their online personaes. He wonders why there are no Librarian characters in those virtual world?
  • Concluding statement -- libraries of the future cannot be just blogs & wikis. Libraries have to maintain an institutional role.


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