Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Update: Part 2

Alternate (possibly better) title: Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation (oh wait, I already used the alternate title for a post)

Continuing on with the program from Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) Update: Part 1
(a teaser for this part of the session was as previously blogged on LITAblog, btw)

Participatory Networks: The Library as Conversation
Joanne Silverstein (jlsilver@syr.edu)
Director of Research and Development
Information Institute of Syracuse (iis.syr.edu)

Information Institute of Syracuse was invited by the Office of Information Technology Policy at the ALA to write a White Paper about recent developments in Web-based innovations and their relationship to, and potential for use in libraries.

Background:

—Why call it “Participatory Networking”?

.The authors propose “participatory networking” as a positive term and concept that libraries can use and promote without the confusion and limitations of previous language. The phrase “participatory network” has a history of prior use that can be built upon.
.The phrase “participatory networks” represents systems of exchange and integration and has long been used in discussions of policy, art, and government. The phrase has also been used to describe online communities that exchange and integrate information. Implies a conversation between groups and people.
.For the purposes of discussion, we define participatory networking as digital, cultural communications and artifacts that are networked in technology, and that are collaborative in principle.

—Why not simply adopt the terms social networking, Web 2.0 or Library 2.0?

1. “Social networking” has negative connotations
.Social network sites (MySpace, Facebook) captured public attention. Proven very popular. Some attention, however, has been very negative.

2. the “2.0″ nomenclature is too vague
.Web 2.0: Ambiguity also dogs the Web 2.0 world. For some it is technology (blogs, AJAX, Web Services, etc.) For others it is simply a buzzword for the current crop of Internet sites that survived the burst of the .com bubble.

3. Web 2.0 implies more than just inclusion of users in systems.
.The term Library 2.0 is a vague term used by some as a goad to the library community. .this term limits the discussion of user-inclusive Web services to the library world. .when factoring in Dewey’s classification, Ranganathan, and the introduction of communications technology into the library, we would think the Library has to be on at least version 12 (beta of course) :)

—Libraries as Conversations

.“…treats information as a conversation” (Karen Schneider at www.plablog.org/2005/01/top-technology-trends.html)
.”the reason for a book is to afford conversation across space and time”(Jeffrey R., Young, Chronicle of Higher Education July 28, 2006)
.“Conversation is central to exchanging information.” (Klemm, 2002)

—Conversation Theory

Gordon Pask (1928-1996)
.relativist, constructivist theory, draws on cybernetics (flow on information). It derives from teaching and learning: learning is the quintessentially constructivist activity
.Intelligence resides in interaction, Conversation
.describes recursive interactions called “Conversation”differences may be reduced until agreement or “agreement over an understanding” is be reached.

Participatory Networking — the Study/White Paper

.Goals
.Library as Facilitator of Conversation
.Participatory Networking
.Libraries as Participatory Conversations
.Recommendations

Goals:
.Review what’s going on in libraries, describe it in context and present it to library administrators, decision and policy makers. Make them aware of the good work going on out there.
.We also want to present library decision makers with the opportunities and challenges of participatory networks as set in a context of conversation theory.
.Finally, we want to present a cohesive framework for libraries to not only fit tools such as Blogs and Wikis into their offerings (where appropriate), but also to show how a more participatory, conversational, approach to libraries in general can help libraries better integrate current and future functions.

Library as Facilitatior of Conversation:

.Conversations create knowledge.
.Some conversations span millennia. Others only a few seconds. Some happen in real time, some do not.
.In some conversations, there is a broadcast of ideas from one author to multiple audiences.
.Some conversations start with a book, or a video, or a Web page.
.Users need sophisticated processes to facilitate the conversation. The library serves this vital role for many communities, the implication is that libraries are in the conversation business.
..Bricks and mortar libraries: you can observe the conversations as library speaker series, book groups, and collection development processes.
..Online: library has fallen short of the ideal of conversation facilitator.
There is great opportunity, however, for online libraries to provide invaluable conversational, participatory, infrastructure to their communities online.

Participatory Networking

Participatory networking, at least the technological foundations of it, stem from developments in “Web 2.0”
What pervades the Web 2.0 approach is the notion that Internet services are increasingly, no surprise, conversations.
A core concept of Web 2.0 is that people are the content of sites.
Examples
Flickr (www.flicr.com) provides users with free Web space to upload images and create photo albums. Users can then share these photos with friends, or with the public at large. Flickr facilitates the creation of shared photo galleries around themes and places.
MySpace (www.myspace.com) lets users create rich profiles, including blogs, to link up to new people with common interests.

It may not be possible to narrow down a definition of Library 2.0. And perhaps we don’t need to.
But we do want to make clear the notion of Participatory networks comprises:
We use the phrase participatory networking to encompass the concept of using Web 2.0 principles and technologies to implement a conversational model within a community (a library, a peer group, the general public, etc.).

What if the user, finding no relevant information in the catalog, adds the information?
Possibly s/he adds information from their expertise (say through a Wiki),

Can your library functions be as easily incorporated into these types of conversations? Can a user search your catalog and present the results on his or her Web site? The point is that libraries need to be proactive in a new way. Instead of the mantra, “Be where the user is”, we need to, “Be where the conversation is.”

Eventually, blogs, Wikis, RSS, and AJAX will all fade in the continuously dynamic Internet environment.
However, the concepts of participatory networks and conversations are durable.

All in all a long presentation, at the end of the day too.  The Information Institute of Syracuse has a commenst and particiaption page and an about page.  Please feel free to explore their contenta dn leave your comments.

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