Position paper 4: The 21st century library
What modernizing changes need to occur in the 21st century library? Perhaps the books need to be ditched and replaced with new shiny digital records and interactive touch screens. Shall we no longer use our inside voices and turn a quiet reading space into a public gathering center? Or maybe the city could develop a new type of museum filled with “ancient” printed text behind enclosed glass cases for the new generations to understand a time passed. What if no changes are needed? Are things fine the way they are? These are some of the topics and questions that our two librarian guest speakers attempted to address two Fridays ago, on March the 12th.
Chris Koth, who works at the newly developed North Vancouver Lonsdale Library, started by touching upon how his particular branch was implementing new features and changes such as e-books. However, he focused mostly on whom the Lonsdale Library caters to, with a focal point being meeting the needs of the large immigrant population without access to computers. Chris also pointed out that books are still first in demand, which I found interesting (and slightly reassuring), dampening the rumor that print is passé. Although Mr. Koth’s talk was interesting, much of it was concerned with the needs of North Vancouver residents, which is a group I am not among. I found that what he had to say was concerned with less of the 21st century library and revolved more around his clientele, which left the talk sounding a bit like a sales pitch.
Our classes’ other guest was George Villavicencio who, with video clips from the movies Time Machine and Star Wars, won me over straight away. Everybody knows that students always revel in popular culture moments during class time. That along with free cookies and coffee turns a Friday afternoon English class in to a party. Alas, the clips ended in what felt like seconds, my cookies were in my stomach and the talk began. Nevertheless it wasn’t all bad. Mr. Villavicencio is quite an eloquent speaker and is fun to hear get passionate about his work. George was particularly excited about the Capilano University Library’s future plans to move all books and documents upstairs, leaving the ground floor open for gathering with peers and acquiring assistance from tech support and writing centers. In addition, he wanted to keep a balance of print and technological gear, supplying the demand of everyone’s needs.
I feel this is the type of change that is required to ensure the 21st century library continues to hold a prominent role in society. The modern library must encompass both the old and new, combining books with computers and study with social activity. By doing this, each branch can serve as a link: connecting the population to whatever information or service that may be required. In this way libraries can stay relevant to all walks of life, be it old or young, bookworm or social butterfly. If this goal can be achieved nobody has a need to fret. The books will on the shelves and the computers will be hooked up, ready for facebook.
Word count: 534
Free Geek is a non-profit company that recycles and reuses computers. FreeGeek does a many number of things to help recycle old machinery and reuse them. They dispose of technological equipment in a way that is ethical and safe to the environment, they create and use free and open software, and they promote the use of this software. They also provide a learning centre to educate the community about recycling and reusing technology that is either free or very low cost. Their main goal is to reduce to the impact that technology and electronics puts on the environment. They aim to dispose of the technology that cannot be used, in a way that is safe to the environment. I think that this non-profit organization is a great asset to communities. It allows people to learn about different technologies at a very low cost. It creates an opportunity to be a part of something that is purposeful in trying to right the wrongs that we have created for our planet, and while doing so, it bring the community together. It’s an all-ages centre, so children can start learning at a young age that it isn’t necessary to always have the “newest” computers. It’s possible to have a “new” computer by reusing and refurbishing old parts to build a computer. It’s a great learning tool for children, that hopefully will lead to other decisions in their lives regarding recycling and having less of an impact on the environment. Another interesting thing that FreeGeek offers is the open software’s. Not only is a great way to save on money, but it also gives people the opportunity to
actually learn how to first of all, create a software that works for them, and secondly, it allows free communication between software users. There isn’t a limit of how times you are able to load the software on different computers – there are less restrictions. Open software’s are also more durable against virus’. As someone who is smack in the middle of the technological revolution, this idea of recycling and reusing electronics is something that interests me. If I am able to learn how to save money, and help the environment at the same time, I feel that this is a great learning opportunity. As more and more people become involved with this idea and this non-profit group, I believe that we will come to learn and believe that new isn’t always better – that indeed one persons trash is another’s gold.
In today’s technological culture, associating technology with progress and engaging in discourse such as we should prepare for the rapid changing future is dominant in our everyday life. Whether our changing society is primarily because of technology or not, we often feel the fear about the speed of change and feel urgency that we need to do something. This fear or urgency applies to every one in every field. Library is no exception. The role of a library has been changing, and a library in the 21st century library will not be the same as the one in the 20th century. But as George Villavicencio, a librarian of Capilano University Library, said, it is hard to predict what will happen in the future and preparing for the future is not easy. In this context, two librarians, George Villavicencio, and Chris Koth (a librarian of North Vancouver City Library) suggest that library should be ultimately for people. They think library should be community based and provide a space for people who use it.
According to George, the primary role of Capilano University Library is to provide students database services so that they can get articles that they need for their research or other assignments. Library in the 21st century is getting people connected through online to the information that they need. Along with helping people access to databases, he is planning to use the main floor of Capilano Library exclusively open for student or faculty activities. He claims whatever technological development is, the primary focus is on people. City Library faces lots of complicated issues, and Chris starts understanding the residents’ of City of North Vancouver. According to him, City of North Vancouver is very multicultural and a lot f the residents live in apartments, which indicates their space issues. So City Library focuses on settling those issues such as making Multi-language materials, managing computer class, providing internet access room and so on.
I like George and Chris’s idea, because they understand today’s technological culture and try to find ways what they can do, and most importantly, placing people in the center of their future library plan. Truly, there is a demand that we should meet a certain criteria in this technological culture, but what they are reassuring is that it cannot be that way that technology dragging us to a certain level, forcing us to meet a certain criteria but we people are the most important part of technological culture, and we are making culture.
Would you agree that most technological inventions are geared towards a certain group, to meet a necessary goal or task? In Chapter 13 of Culture and Technology: A Primer, Slack and Wise discuss the importance of identity and technology in a society as fast paced as ours. Although, Slack and Wise may not agree, they say, “what technologies are made available to a person depends in part on their identity (gender, race, class, ethnicity, citizenship, ability, and so on)” (149). This makes it very difficult for people with less money and less access to come into contact with the technologies that they may need or desire. I agree that technology can have a strong influence in altering a person’s identity through online social networking sites and other forms of online interaction and I also agree with Slack and Wise when they say that technology can be biased towards certain identities in society.
Companies invent new technologies to make profit, so the people that they aim to please are most often people with money, the people with the means to make their company excel. This makes it difficult for other people, such as the unemployed, the homeless, or the disable to gain access to these technologies. This makes it very difficult for the unemployed, for example, to find jobs because they may be unable to access a computer to apply for a job position or to perhaps find a used car to drive themselves to interviews. In order for new technologies to be produced, research and funding must be done. Some technologies may not be developed because no one is willing to fund them because there is no profit to be made. Most often this is because the technology being researched is intended for people who do not have the means to pay large sums of money for the proposed new technology. Slack and Wise offer the example of developing medicine that will cure a disease, but will not make a profit. Although the ethical standpoint would be to make the medicine regardless of what money there is to gain, it is often difficult to find companies to do so. The more specific example of this is the cure for sleeping sickness which is a disease found in Africa. Most of the people suffering from this illness do not have the means to pay for the treatment, so companies stopped making it. This is a harsh example but it shows how technology can be very biased towards identity. The majority of people suffering from sleeping sickness live in poverty and a large part of their identity is defined by this fact, making it difficult for them to gain access to the technologies they need. Identity can be changed through the influence of technology but it also plays a very important role in the development and success of technologies. As much as it shouldn’t be, a person’s identity very much affects their access to new and old technologies.
By: Ruby Flynn
In Ted Kaczynski’s essay ‘Industrial Society and its Future’, otherwise known as the Unabomber’s manifesto, he was concerned with the amount of dependence our society puts on technology. He said the industrial revolution created “psychological suffering” for the human race and would cause severe damage to our world in the near future. Kaczynski was a radical and an example of someone who resorts to violence as a way of getting his message out in the world.
Because Kaczynski hated the government so much he felt he had no choice but to use violence to get his point across. But, it seemed like Kaczynski was opposed to technology and the violence and isolation it could lead to, so there must have been a reason he fell prey to his own opposition. Although Kaczynski denied insanity, he clearly had some type of antisocial personality disorder as well as schizophrenia, which led to the use of sixteen bombs throughout his life killing three people as well as injuring twenty three others.
Some bombs are used for psychopaths with a need for control, for others they’re used merely as weapons. For the Unabomber they were used as an attention getter, something to make people know who he was so they would listen to his manifesto. This made him dangerous, but not crazy. His ‘craziness’ ended with his paranoid personality, leaving his behaviour and actions solely on his shoulders. So how right was he in his quest for the world’s attention and was there another way to get it besides using violence on innocent people who did not share his views in life? Kaczynski said no, that if he hadn’t used the bombs people would have merely read his essay once, then forgotten it forever.
Technology was used as a way to help the Unabomber with his mission, which is a little ironic because of how against the progression of technology he was. It actually also helped his point about society becoming threatened by the growing dependence on technology, and as a result the lack of reliance on the people. By using his bombs, he could control the government, while also fulfilling his ultimate goal of getting the attention of society.
Though it is not clear why Ted Kaczynski felt the way he did, it is clear that while he wasn’t insane, he was delusional in his attempt to control the government by using irrational and unethical means to make his point. Although we can relate or recognize Kaczynski’s arguments we cannot morally as an individual or as a society condone it. Resorting to violence is never the answer and like it is seen with the Unabomber can only end badly leaving you alone, imprisoned, or worse, dead.
CNET English 100
March 26, 2010
THE FUTURE OF NEWS
In his article “The Race,” published in the March/April 2007 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review, American journalist and economist Robert Kuttner explores the complex financial and journalistic issues currently facing the ailing newspaper industry. As global Internet usage continues to grow exponentially, newspaper companies are struggling to maintain both readership levels and profitability. While large print newspapers are often part of media conglomerates with millions to invest in digital distribution, mid-sized firms are experiencing much more difficulty transitioning to and profiting from creating digital content. Newspaper publishers that expand their presence to include online and digital offerings of their existing products while ensuring journalistic quality will weather the economic storm facing their industry.
A number of critics of the print news industry argue that the Internet allows the news creation process to be more democratic and interactive, allowing anyone to create and share news material. They make the valid point that online technologies have a powerful ability to draw in the masses and involve them directly in the production and distribution of information. However, they fail to take into account the important role that quality journalism plays in our society, and the impact that skilled, trained writers have on news production. Indeed, Kuttner’s colleague admitted that although the Internet allows him to process more news on a daily basis, he has noticed that “the best material on the Internet consistently comes from Web sites run by print organizations.”
The fact that print newspapers are producing material that is of a much higher calibre than online blogs and other websites substantiates the argument that quality print journalism remains essential in modern society, although not necessarily in its existing form. Newspapers must create quality digital and online content to serve the growing masses who seek out information on the Internet in order to remain relevant and profitable in our digital culture. Although the average profit margins for newspaper divisions have been measured to be 17.8 percent as recently as 2006, “newspaper stocks lagged the S&P 500 … by 21 percent.” This clearly demonstrates the lack of faith that Wall Street has in the newspaper industry in its current state, and illustrates the need for newspaper publishers to re-examine and adapt their business models to become what Kuttner refers to as “print-digital hybrids.”
It remains to be seen if newspapers can maintain their existing print businesses in the future, but there is no doubt that news publishers need to expand their offerings to include online and digital products if they are to survive. In our modern digital culture, it is becoming increasingly important for publishers to embrace technological advancements in order to improve readership, profitability, and investor confidence. The development of print-digital hybrids necessitated by the current economic situation will allow the newspaper industry to survive by fusing technological innovation and journalistic quality. Whether print newspapers remain after this transition is less important than their ability to expand and diversify their businesses “without losing the culture that makes them uniquely valuable.”
Word count: 499
Kuttner, Robert. “The Race: Newspapers can make it to a bright print-digital future after all—but only if they run fast and dodge Wall Street.” Columbia Journalism Review 45.6 (2007): 24-32. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 5 Mar. 2010.
It is impossible to say whether technology has helped our society more or rendered it useless. What matters more than the technology we’ve created as a whole is how people use it against our society. When people created the various technologies we use today, they probably weren’t creating them to cause horrible acts of violence inflicted by either them or other human beings wanting to create terror in our world. It doesn’t depend on the technology created to cause an act of violence, but rather who takes that technology and puts it towards a cause for worse or for better.
Guns and gun control is a good example of a cause of technology. People say that guns are killing people and they were created as a tool to inflict violence. Does this mean that the inventors of guns created them to wreak havoc and cause unbearable acts of violence in the world? The answer is no, probably not. They may have been made in a response to violence, for safety and protection, but probably not to cause violence. The slogan that the National Rifle Association has come up with in response to gun control is, “Guns don’t kill people, people do,” and although I personally don’t like the idea of guns everywhere in our world, this slogan is more accurate then “guns kill.” If a person wanted to commit murder and guns no longer or never existed, he or she most likely would find another way of carrying out the crime, probably a more brutal way like strangulation or blunt force trauma of some kind.
People will always find a way to criticize the technologies that were created, for good or just in general. The invention of the computer and later the internet is a good example. It was created to connect the world and share information to everyone no matter where they lived. Critics are now saying people spend too much time on the computer and are beginning to lack social interaction. Although this may be true, it is ironic because social interaction was what the internet was supposed to help with in our society.
New things will eventually always be created, whether related to technology or not, and some people will use these things for good, and others for worse. In relation there will be people who criticize new creations and others who learn to accept and enjoy them. Therefore it is not up to us as a society to stop technology, but rather learn from the mistakes we may have made in the past and try to encourage people to use technology for good and never for bad.