Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Siva Vaidhyanathan & the library's role in the participatory media culture

Siva Vaidhyanathan, assistant professor for Culture and Communications at New York University, was the evening speaker at the Nylink conference. His writings include Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity and The Anarchist in the Library: How the Clash Between Freedom and Control is Hacking the Real World and Crashing the System. And he's been on the Daily Show. Wow! He drove up from New York City just to do this presentation and it was awesome. Some quick notes (these are not exact quotes...I couldn't write that fast):
  • Read/write culture (what we're experiences on the Internet now) trumps read-only culture (e.g., traditional media).
  • Despite copyright and the limitations that big media has tried to place on us, the read/write culture has happened.
  • People volunteer to create content, yet abide by generally accepted principles when they do it.
  • All culture is open source. * This is a concept he mentioned several times, so it is important. *
  • Open source is nothing new. It is how we have operated for centuries/millennia.
  • "Culture" is taking those things around us to building new meaning.
  • People search for the common text among them. He opened by mentioning the Buffalo Sabres. Later he said that by doing so, he built a relationship with those in the audience who are Sabre fans or who like hockey. (He joked that by mid-June, we'll all be Sabre fans.)
  • Web 2.0 allows us to communicate many to many, not one to many (which is what media has been doing).
  • He mentioned two types of tagging -- the child's game and the catalogue -- both are relevant to how tagging is occurring on the Internet.
  • When we use Google, et al, what is the nature of the transaction? And what are we giving up? Information? Privacy? Quality?
  • What does Google keep about you and for how long?
    • What is being collected? How is it being used?
  • Google knows lots about us, but we know very little about Google. We should be worried about the nature of our transactions with Google.
  • We are returning to an old form of being human (everyone connected and interacting).
    • Globally connected humans.
  • Siva made a distinction between cleverness and brilliance. He would argue that most of the content being generated on the Internet is clever, but not brilliant.
  • He said that Google Book Search "sucks". There is no quality control. Abundance of information is not the answer.
  • Google's web search is "good enough." It helps us get a handle on the growing Internet. It finds what people needs -- or gets them closer to what they need -- but should not be used for live and death decisions.
  • Libraries value:
    • Universal access
    • Community building
    • Respect for quality
    • Serendipity
    • Quite place to think
    • Respect for the patron -- trust, sensitivity, and confidentiality
My notes do not do Siva justice. if you ever get a chance to hear him speak, take it. You will not be disappointed.

BTW want to know how to pronounce his name? (MP3)

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