Monday, February 18, 2008

Speaking at USF (Part 10): Perspectives II

[From Part 9]

Social Media. Conversations. Shared Experiences. Awareness. Action. Social change.

Have been thinking about these topics lately.

Action: Changing one's Neighbourhood first
It's obvious to me David and Sarah are interested in effecting social change (this is the first that I know of). And they have started with their neighbourhood first.

They shared a story about their Blue Planter. Essentially, it was their response towards trash being dumped in front of their home.

I hope David and Sarah would share the thinking behind the Blue Planter Story soon. It's inspirational, that's all I can say. Their simple story reminded of what Siva once told me -- before trying to change the world, try to improve your neighbourhood first.

[Update: the story here!]

Perspectives from an outsider
My friend from Singapore, Lucian, is also here in SF on a working trip. He blogged about his impressions while strolling in SF one morning:
I suppose you could say I’m in love with the United States of America, but the truth is that I’m in love with the idea of America, rather than America herself...

... America has grown paranoid. Voices, even that of the majority, have been silenced. Newspapers and blogs write about how ridiculous certain bills are, but congress passes them anyway. I’m only a visitor to this country and I’ve seen a fair number of veterans homeless on the streets, but Bill O’Reilly , who actually lives in America, denies their existence. Everything is upside down, America.
It's fairly common to have (some) Americans comment on another country's domestic policies. What would their reactions be to read an outsider's perspective? Would an opinion of a non-American count?


Kelly (one Davies scholar who impressed me before I even arrived in SF) blogged her perspective of the talk. In her third para, she writes:
And if we utilize the tools available to us in a conversational manner, I think we can begin to discover the utility and humanity of this potentially overwhelming medium.

Shared Experiences
I found this Davis scholar, lissle, writing about an abandoned couch in the street. She makes what I felt was a profound statement: "Comfort is found just in simply having someone to talk to".

Seems to me Social Media is the digital equivalent of the couch in the street.

So I'm thinking:
Digital Media facilitates Conversations and Shared Experiences and may lead to new/ greater Awareness of issues.

But to ultimately result in Social change, it's up to people to Act.

[Part 11]


  1. In response to whether the opinion of a non-American about the U.S. would count: Yes, for me it definitely would (as long as it was well-informed). For one, the U.S. has such a big global presence and influence that if we didn't listen to what people in other countries think of us, we would be idiots. Unfortunately, many of us are idiots, but maybe that discussion is for a different place and time.

    I really really like your reflection on digital media and social change. The final component, "to ultimately result in Social change, it's up to people to act" is SO important. This is a reason I haven't added any "Causes" to my Facebook profile - it's basically a label saying "I care about this issue," which is legitimate, but the danger is in people thinking that's enough, and it isn't. Even more valuable things that can and do come from digital media, like conversations, shared experiences, and greater awareness, aren't enough to create change unless we use those actively in our lives.

    And finally, I wanted to let you know that I (finally) blogged about your talk at USF last Thursday. Thanks so much for coming!

  2. Anonymous11:20 am

    Yes, yes, yes ~ your post says it all, why the blog platform is so relevant to libraries and librarians. Use of social media enables conversations in which shared experience or knowledge offer opportunities to enhance awareness . . . of resources, research strategies, new products, people. Understanding the digital culture is “where it’s at” today; librarians & library support staff want to create, engage, share, teach AND learn which is why we are excited about our library blog, Gleeson Gleanings . . . the collective consciousness of the library is at work! And, most importantly, we are hearing back from our audience/community – people sharing, teaching, and learning, it goes both ways.

  3. @ Amber - thanks for commenting. And you folks are starting to embed hyperlinks. Great! :)

    @ Deborah - Your comment convinces me that the Gleeson Library blog will be something worth watching out for. My first impression was that "You folks GET IT" and your comment confirms without a doubt about my original perception. It's almost a manifesto of why Gleeson library is blogging! :)

  4. Hey Ivan!
    I didn't even realize you had mentioned the couch-internet connection before I did. thanks for your advice too, this is great.


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