Library 2.0

the future of libraries in the digital age


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I've been trying to come up with reasons for why we are all so excited about Web 2.0, beyond the usual reasons about social networking. We've had "socialness" since listervs and bulletin boards. So why are blogs, wikis, and this Ning forum different? I think it has to do with the level of self revelation. No one knows what you look like in a listserv. The 2.0 Web is a lot more intimate of a place, for better or worse. I sense that Web 2.0 strikes people at a somewhat deeper emotional level. When I first looked at MySpace and public photos on Flickr I wanted no part of it. When I finally decided to create a MySpace page it was a leap into the scary unknown. Still kinda is. I'd be interested in hearing other thoughts along this line.

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Maybe it's a matter of W2.0 coming along at just the right time and place... I don't know if folks were really ready for this kind of participation yet when listservs and bboards came along. Now that the technology has had time to get good enough and we have had enough time to get comfortable with it, the time is ripe for integrating the new technologies into our lives (our our lives into them!). And now that the general population is doing so, libraries and librarians no longer have a choice - they must ride the 2.0 wave in order to stay relevant and effectively serve our patrons.
I think that it's one more place for us to reach out. As Emily said it's also about staying relevant. Word of mouth is so important for gaining more customers.

And people are now used to interacting. Amazon continues to add more & more aspects of web 2.0. And Hennepin Cty's website (MN) is doing a fabulous job of allowing people to actively comment, rate books just like Amazon's model. I was just reading yesterday that they have 43 comments on the last Harry Potter that hasn't even been published! So the book that doesn't exist has a position among circulating titles... now that says something. And much more of our population is used to this type of interaction - they expect our services to be the 'Amazon experience'. We just migrated to a new ILS 2 yrs ago - and already it feels like it doesn't offer the services that it could.
Web 2.0 is about community. There is nothing like feeling helpless when a big organization makes a decision you don't like and you and your friends say "Hey that's not right!". That's what web 2.0 is! The Community Strikes Back! Of course they aren't the dark side, however to big organizations they are just as scary. What really drives 2.0 is the talkback from the community to what you are doing. You do something, and other people say your rock or you suck. So it is not just being social, but creating a community.
Wow! Jim, what you just mentoined is something... Why do people all those things with web 2.0 websites and pull their lives on the internet to be read by all the other people on the www. What's so different with this new term in the webworld? That's what I'm thinking too... Besides that I sure like all the new things and taking advantace of it big time. But what's the real 'new thing'? I dunno... One thing is that it's all about sharing and getting social but whats the productivity of it?
Part of it is ease of use. For instance, the blog format (online reverse chronological entries) have existed for as long as the web has, but blogging services have made it easy and possible without any HTML skills.

Another "breakthrough" is the willingness for companies to host web content "for free" (i.e. advertising, etc.) They aren't selling the service, they are attracting eyeballs (like radio and television exist, in part, to attract ears and eyes to the commercials.) It's possible to do lots of Web 2.0 stuff without spending a dime, which makes it even for accessible.

Personally, I think that the community aspect is so attractive because of the "breakdown of community" that so many people are so worried about. We may be losing geographical community (or maybe we aren't) but we are definitely gaining it online.
The decline of the public sphere is an interesting angle here. It may be that people are looking online for something that is seen to be hard to find in the 'real world'. ALso it extends the 'reach' you have- you have more potential like minded people to form a community with. Also, some of the challenges of physical community are absent.
I think it is the layering and connecting. If I put into 43things (which I think actually passes off to allconsuming), that I am reading a book, then I can see people who are also reading the book, or who have just finished it.

And message them. I got an email today from someone I have never met about a book that we both like. That's exciting.

And the layers on layers, once I tell one web page something, other web pages already know it, and I can move onto the next thing. Very little work is lost, or needs to be re-done.


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