Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Participatory networks

This afternoon David Lankes did a presentation at the Nylink Annual Meeting on "participatory networks." His presentation was entitled "Libraries as Conversation." Dave and I joked that we had to drive nearly three hours to see each other, when we actually probably live 20 minutes apart in Syracuse. It definitely was worth the drive to hear him speak on this topic.

Dave's funny and informative presentation was born out of solid research on participatory networks, done with Joanne Silverstein and Scott Nicholson. All three teach at Syracuse University. Dave hits his first key point very early -- knowledge is created through conversations. What we have in our libraries, museums and archives are materials that help fuel those conversations. Our spaces hosts conversations. And we often facilitate the conversations.

We tend to present things to our uses -- a web page, a digitized collection, a book -- and think that we're done, but we're not. If we want to help them learn and build knowledge, we need to help them interact with and talk about the materials, whether that be online or face-to-face conversations.

Two other thoughts from his presentation:
  • People need to be active constructors of their knowledge.
  • They (the users) want tools that allow and facilitate conversation and participation.
There is much to think about from his study, but the biggest question is -- when we create digital collections, how do we then facilitate conversations that will allow people to learn and build knowledge? And -- in this context -- what does the word conversation mean?

I am not sure how many people are at this meeting (less than 100), but I've already had two good conversations about digitization. Very cool! Tomorrow I'm speaking on Second Life (not digitization) as part of a panel with Christine Dowd (Apple, Inc.) and John Weber (Skidmore College). The panel topic is "The Future is Here: Technology Trends and Opportunities."

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