Still Talking about Old Technology?

I’m guessing that your organization is still talking about how to implement old technology. You are holding meetings, creating working groups, forming committees. All based around implementing something that still seems new to you, but in reality is pretty darn old!

“Old technology? No way!” you say. Wanna bet? Here’s a short list of technology that gets discussed in libraries right now, with origin/founding/first appeared dates (yay for Wikipedia!):

  • Twitter – 7 years old (founded 2006)
  • Facebook – 9 years old (founded 2004)
  • ebooks – 42 years old (we’ll say 1971, though prototypes and patents go all the way back to the 1940s!)
  • ebook readers – 15 years old (1998, probably earlier)
  • QR Codes – 19 years old (created in 1994)
  • PC with OS’s newer than XP – 7 years old (Vista came out in 2006, though no one actually used it)
  • Apple Mac – 29 years old (Came out in 1984. I’ll guess many people remember the commercial, but haven’t actually used one)
  • Cell phones – 40 years old (First call made in 1973)
  • smart phones – 12 years old (started appearing in 2001)
  • text messaging – 21 years old (created in 1992)
  • IM/Chat messaging – 25 years old (IRC appeared in 1988)
  • wifi – 25 years old (appeared in 1988)
  • RFID – 30 years old (first patent in 1983)
  • Youtube – 8 years old (founded in 2005)
  • mp3 files for music – 19 years old (appeared in 1994)
  • digital media labs – 93 years old (ok, this one’s really hard to date. DMLs are really just small recording studios, which have been around in one form or another since at least the 1920s)
  • hackerspaces – 47 years old (This is another hard one to date. The Chaos Computer Club, an early hackerspace, was founded in 1981. But I think you could put the Homebrew Computer Club in this list, started in 1975, which helped spawn Apple. And my dad and my uncle Bob have had workshops in their basements with all sorts of crazy machinery since I’ve been alive. So I’m dating these at 47 years old :-)
  • Cloud computing – 63 years old (There have been mainframes/dumb terminals since the 1950s, which could be argued to be early cloud-based computing)
  • 3D Printing – 29 years old (the first working 3d printer appeared in 1984)

So I ask again – are you talking about old technology … like it’s new technology? Do you have staff who can’t use ebooks, are wary of smartphones or text messaging reference, or look at you crazy when you introduce the concept of a hackerspace to them? Is your library/city/governing board still wary of new-fangled social media tools like Facebook or Cloud computing?

Makes you think, doesn’t it!

Steampunk mobile phone pic by Urban Don

Wisconsin Presentation

Wisconsin Librarians
Wisconsin Librarians listening to DLK

Earlier this week, I spoke at the New Berlin Public Library in Wisconsin for the Waukesha County Federated Library System – Wisconsin has some great librarians for sure!

This was a well-attended talk, and there was some really good discussion afterwards. They are definitely thinking about and planning for the future.

And – just for the attendees – I warned you guys! I said I would post this pic to Flickr, and I did. It also makes a great addition to this post. Text is often much better with visuals… :-)

Anyway – here’s the Slideshare version of my Wisconsin talk. This was a longer presentation (3 hours), and I combined some thoughts from my usual Freak Out presentation and my newer Creating Customer Experience presentations. The content blends together pretty nicely.

Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out – recent presentations

I recently gave my Freak Out, Geek Out, or Seek Out presentation at Lawrence Public Library in Kansas, and at three fun events in Wisconsin. A couple of them were longer, 3-hour talks, and the other two were shorter – this Slideshare slidedeck is for the 3-hour version of the presentation.

All 4 were fun talks with lots of great discussion afterwards. Lawrence and Wisconsin – thanks!

Have We Emerged Yet?

budAndy at the Agnostic, Maybe blog (you are reading Andy’s blog, right? Good stuff there) recently posted Deconstructing Library 2.0 – and asked some good questions (I left a couple of comments).

Jenny Levine at The Shifted Librarian responded with a whole blog post (yay! Jenny posted! Jenny posted!). I almost responded in her comments, but needed some more time to process my thoughts. I’m not sure they’re processed yet. But I’ll throw this out – maybe y’all can help, and add to the discussion!

I’ll start us off with some observations from Jenny’s post. She quotes Andrew Burkhardt at the Information Tyrannosaur blog (yet another interesting blog to read) who said “The time has come for libraries to be social on the web. Social is the new normal. It has become mainstream and people expect it. Library 2.0 is not dead, it has just become boring and commonplace. And to quote Clay Shirky, “tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”

Then Jenny goes on to say this: “The hard part, though, is that Library 2.0 doesn’t really replace anything … the opportunities these new tools afford us are in addition to everything we’re already doing, which causes problems, because we don’t get additional resources to implement them … That means being out in your community physically and digitally …”

My question is – are we there yet? I don’t think so. Remember my recent Facebook post? I pointed out that successful library Facebook Pages have staff members actively pushing out content and participating with their users in Facebook. There were some shining examples, and there were some, for all practical purposes, dead pages, too. Maybe those libraries ran into Jenny’s reality of Facebook being “… in addition to everything we’re already doing, which causes problems, because we don’t get additional resources” … so they dropped they thing they didn’t find to be important.

Or maybe, for those libraries, the technology has not yet “become boring and [more likely] commonplace.”

Here’s what I’m noticing when I speak at a library staff day event. I’m usually brought in to speak about “emerging trends and transformations” (translation – web 2.0 tools, services, and underlying philosophies). At these libraries, there’s usually a small cluster of staff that “get it” and are glad I’m there. There’s also usually a couple of staff that think that I’m somehow ignoring the digital divide, forgetting about people who need reading glasses, or even making library services tough for old and poor people.

Then there’s everyone else. For the most part, this larger group hasn’t really adapted to emerging tools, services, or philosophies (but are very willing to learn and to experiment). This is where the new stuff isn’t yet commonplace. For example, maybe some of them have personal Facebook profiles, and use them to reconnect with high school buddies, or maybe their daughter who lives out of state. But when I introduce them to using an organizational Facebook Page to connect with their community – to “be the library” to those people, in that digital space … well, that’s a whole different enchilada.

It’s the very same reaction that some staff might have if they were told to get out of the building, attend a local community focus group … and represent the library while there. It’s different like that … in the same way.

So, my tally on the good stuff mentioned in those posts:

  • “The time has come for libraries to be social on the web” – Yes, definitely.
  • “Social … has become mainstream and people expect it.” Yes and no. A growing segment of our community DOES expect it – but maybe not our traditional “regulars” who visit our physical spaces.
  • “Library 2.0 doesn’t really replace anything … the opportunities … are in addition to everything we’re already doing” – Yes, definitely.

Emerging = growing pains. For many of us, I think that’s where we are right now. We are emerging in many ways, and will continue to do so. But that emerging thing brings a lot of growing pains with it – new things to learn, new priorities, new philosophies to adapt to our organizations, new jobs being created to meet new needs.

Yay! and Ouch! at the same time. What do you think?

Presentations in Garland, TX

Garland libraryLast Friday, I spoke at the Nicholson Memorial Library System in Garland, TX (a suburb of Dallas). It was a fun time – nice library, great people wanting to learn new things. Can’t beat that!

I spoke at their annual Staff Day, and gave two presentations: one on emerging trends, and one on change (both whopping 3-hour presentations). Both are embedded below.

Towards the end of the day, we poked around on the web a bit, and played with some of the websites I talked about in the presentations. So – for the Garland folks – here’s a list of websites we played with:

And for the presentations (fyi – for those wanting to see both presentations, click through to the actual post. For some reason, posting two embedded Slideshare presentations in the same posts makes the second embed disappear int he RSS feed version of my post):

And the afternoon presentation:

Fishing in the Rivers of Change … While Wearing Your Hip Boots

View more documents from David King.

Thanks, Nicholson Memorial Library System!