Information Flux in the 21st Century

Social Networks

I recently put a picture of my first grade class on my Facebook page, specifically for my old friends from that class to see. I’m still getting used to the fact that my classmates from those days so long ago and I are again in touch. And, we are communicating in the same space that I do with friends from all different phases of my life. I remember the day when it was natural to compartmentalize my friendships. Am I too steeped in organization and categorization to embrace social networks for what they are? What does knowledge organization in this context mean? Oh sure, I can do the research. But, my friends, what do you think? I want to hear from you.

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June 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Games for Change and Gaming in Libraries

Now that I have time to ponder how I will best make use of my new MSLIS, one of the areas I am focusing on is gaming, and the use of games in libraries. Last month I attended the Games for Change festival. The organization Games for Change “seeks to harness the extraordinary power of video games to address the most pressing issues of our day, including poverty, human rights, global conflict and climate change…” The Games for Change festival is one of a kind; it is the only festival dedicated to the movement of Digital Games for Social Change. The festival offered an immersion in what these games are, who is developing them, how they can be developed, fundraising possibilities, findings on their effects in education, etc. An impressive array of scholars, developers and personnel from fundraising organizations presented insightful topics in thought provoking sessions.

The keynote speaker at the festival was Nicholas Kristof. This columnist, who passionately writes about global issues for The New York Times, is in the process of attaching his name to a game. Unfortunately, he couldn’t say much about the game (sworn to secrecy?), but he did speak about his experiences and perceptions about games and civic engagement. And, he spoke about how the game Darfur is Dying brought the issue to an audience broader than the readers of his column. He mentioned a clever invitation he received via Twitter to visit a website, dearmrkristoff.com. This website was created by English teachers from a middle school in the Bronx to share with Mr. Kristof the experiences of their classes in exploring the game Darfur is Dying. Two classes made documentaries; one on Darfur, and the other about youth awareness of genocide. Here is a clear example of a how a game was used to enlighten students about a profoundly serious issue and engage them in a way that reading and discussing current events in Social Studies classes would not. Does that not sound impressive?

As an information professional, I see tremendous potential for libraries and future information centers (if that is the direction we’re headed) to harness this technology. I am delighted to discover that I am not alone. I recently started following lectures offered by Professor Scott Nicholson from Syracuse University on youtube (Gaming in Libraries). There is much to learn, and I have my work cut out for me. Too bad I’m not getting paid for it. That is my next goal!

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Media Conversations

Last night I went to the opening night of the Media Conversations conference on youth, media and education. This conference was organized by Lance Strate from Forham University and David Walczyk, of my most recent alma mater, Pratt Institute. First, I listened to Eric Goodman present his (and Mike Stevens) music video media critiques that included Thus Spoke the Spectacle.

The initial draw to the conference for me was the preview of the movie Consuming Kids. The movie turned out to be as compelling as I thought it would be. Advertisers begin indoctrinating kids as close to birth as possible. And, the worst part is that advertising to children is totally unregulated in the United States. After the movie a woman, Julie Zuraw, a concerned individual who felt strongly about this issue, stood up to try to get interested parties in the audience to band together with her to advocate for some regulation. I’m with her.   I know my daughters are influenced by advertising, but I like to think that we, their parents, have some input as well. However, as Julie pointed out, what about when our children are out in the world and we’re not there to guide them? I think some regulation is called for, and I don’t see this as an infringement of freedom of speech.

Finally, the keynote speaker, Tom de Zengotita, author of Mediated, gave his perception of how media influence has created an ideology of “funnism.” The right to have fun trumps all else, and a critique of media may exclude the believers of funnism, a large population. I found myself oddly not paying attention to his double spectacle look. Was I actually turning off the media influence to mock such things? Hope so. 

This got me thinking about something else. I am now a devotee of Games for Change and have introduced my daughters to the games on their website. One of the games that my daughter Nathalie played was mentioned at the Games for Change conference that I attended last week. The game is called Fatworld. The name is controversial enough. To top this off, the object of the game is to make healthy choices in order to live a long life. My daughter discovered that at the end of a long healthy life, her character died. She did not like this part of the game and decided she didn’t want to play anymore. First, I thought, okay, I understand. Games should be fun and if the fun is taken out, then the game fails. But, no, I know better, that’s not the point of games that are supposed to build awareness of larger issues in our world. This didn’t hit me until I had time to ponder what Tom de Zengotita had to say. We want our kids to be aware and be critcal. I don’t believe this can truly happen in a culture solely dedicated to funnism.  Tom, I think got it.

June 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

21st Century Information Management Professional

I am not comfortable labeling myself a librarian, even though my mint degree is a Masters of Science in Information and Library Science. Proud as I am with the profession, I think the nomenclature is dated. I was recently asked what I did, after mentioning that I graduated and was looking for a job in my new career. My reply, which I was never comfortable answering in my last “career,” was information specialist. I was not only comfortable answering the question, but I was proud, too. Yet, on second thought, information specialist was vague and belied the depth of the work.  So, what about  information management professional?  Seems this is not so original. Syracuse University has a 42 credit program in Information Management (formerly information resources management). What are the courses that bridge the 6 credit gap between a MSLIS and a MSIM? Of course, I’ll be looking into this. To be continued…

June 2, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment