Thursday, May 31, 2012

Article: Authors win class status over Google books

In talking about the disposition of The Authors Guild et al v. Google Inc. and American Society of Media Photographers et al v. Google Inc., this Reuters article notes:
Thousands of authors can sue Google Inc. in a class-action lawsuit over its plan to create the world's largest digital book library, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
This decision today comes more than a year after Judge Chin "cited antitrust and copyright concerns in rejecting a proposed comprehensive $125 million settlement, saying it went 'too far' in letting Google effectively conduct 'wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission.'"

I'm sure more people will be writing about this and I look forward to what they have to say.

Addendum (6/5/2012): The Copyright Clearance Center has written an article on this.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Jill's Presentation & Travel Schedule: Summer 2012

Cafe au lait and Beignets at Cafe du MondeAs May ends, I have a busy summer ahead. Perhaps our paths will cross?
  • May 30 (today) - NYLA Deans and Directors Meetings - This is an interesting small meeting of library school deans (or their representatives) and library directors, where we talk about LIS education and the skills needed in the workplace.  Guilderland, NY
  • June 7, 2 p.m. - New York Archives Conference - As we move toward the future, how are we doing? (presentation). Rochester, NY
  • June 12, 10:15 a.m. - NYS Higher Education Initiative - The Role of the New Librarians (presentation). Syracuse, NY
  • July 14-18 - SLA Annual Conference. Chicago, IL
    • July 14 (all day) - Board of Director meeting (closed meeting)
    • July 15 - 9 a.m. - Open Board of Directors meeting
    • July 16, 10 a.m. - SLA Career Connection Seminar: Make the Most of a Difficult Situation: Solutions to Get You Through
    • July 18, 12 noon - What's Changed Since Library School? MLS Training Update for Veteran and Not-So-Veteran Librarians (panel)
  • August 6, 10 a.m. - Libraries Thriving - Digital Literacy (Credo Reference Online Seminar Series) (webinar)
  • August 8, 2 p.m. - Libraries Thriving - Digital Literacy (Credo Reference Online Seminar Series) (webinar)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Is now the time for librarians? (Continued)

Artwork next to Cafe du MondeYesterday's blog post has received interesting comments in Twitter, LinkedIn and here.  Andy Woodworth told me about two blog posts that he wrote last year that are a useful addendum to this topic:
Andy is supportive of librarians as entrepreneurs and I enjoy reading is no-nonsense thoughts on that.

Andromeda Yelton wrote a follow-up post to Andy's, which is also worth reading:


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Is now the time for librarians?

The graduate.New librarians are entering the job market fresh from receiving their master's degree (MLIS).  The months and years spent in the classroom are behind them and they are anxious for the next chapter of their lives to begin.  Some have already found job opportunities.  Others are still in the job hunt and wondering when a job offer will appear.  For them, this is a time of doubt.  Was getting an MLIS the right thing to do?  Weren't a ton of librarians suppose to be retiring?  Is this the right time to be a librarian?

Because of the committees that I serve on, the people I meet with, and the consulting work that I do, I see the profession from a different point of view than most.  With those points of view in mind, let me tell you why this is the time for librarians.

The Graying of the Profession - We have been talking for years about the number of librarians that would be retiring.  However, the economic downturn that begin in 2008 delayed retirements.  Those librarians who have stayed - instead of retiring - will retire.  Some might even work in organizations that have a mandatory retirement date.  All of those retiring librarians will need to be replaced.  Will they be replaced with a new graduate?  In some cases, yes.  In many cases, they will be replaced with someone else, who will then could be replaced with a new graduate. 

In addition, when people did retire, they were often not replaced.  The need for them didn't go away because their work didn't go away.  As our economy improves, those vacancies will be filled.

Chris Turner, Daniel Enders, Jane Appiah Okyere and Rachael Altman gathered around  poster for ProspectUs, a project by Chris Turner, Daniel Enders, Daniel Perez and Robert SchrierNeed for New Ideas - Every information organization (and not just libraries) need new ideas to move them forward.  Graduates enter the workforce fresh with new ideas and a willingness to put those ideas into motion.  I have seen graduates hired because they are willing to demonstrate a desire to make a difference and to help an organization dream big. 

Librarians Inside and Outside of Libraries - Just last night, I spoke with someone who noted that library and information science graduates are a desirable group because of their ability to gather information and do analysis. Working in non-traditional settings is an area that graduates need to tap into because it is a growth area.  This means looking at business job ads for those that require information gathering, organization and analysis skills.  This also means promoting, both through your resume and cover letter, what you are capable of doing for them.  That may mean describing your library skills in non-library terms. 

Among the businesses/industries/areas - including some that are library related - that I think graduates should look at are:
  • Publishing industry - This is an industry that is going through massive changes.  It needs help in understand how people want to access information as well as how to market its works to new and existing channels (including libraries). 
  • Pharmaceutical industry - This industry has a continuous need for information gathering and analysis, including working with big data.  (There are many other industries that need LIS skills, so this is really just one example.)
  • Government agencies - They - national, state and local - are awash in information and need help.  Among the help that they need is assistance in capturing/preserving information that is being acquired and created. 
  • National security - Any organization that is involved in national security needs people to organize and analyze data.  They may not be actively recruiting, but that doesn't mean that they aren't hiring.  These organizations often take months (yes, even close to a year) to work through the interview/hiring process, so applicants need to be patient.  
  • Non-governmental organizations - Whether in the U.S. or overseas, these organizations have the same information needs as other businesses or agencies.  For those interested in traveling the world, an NGO - or a State Department or Military library - can give you that opportunity.
  • K-12 schools - Reportedly, some school districts do not have as many teacher librarians (also called school media specialists or school librarians) as they are mandated to have.  While school districts are worried about their funding, they are also worried about meeting the federal requirements and improving student education.  Teacher librarians are an important component and there will be openings.
  • Library trainers - Information and digital literacy are areas that are growing in importance.  Many public and academic libraries are focusing resources (and people) on these.  While a new graduate may not feel as if he has ability to walk right into a training position, I encourage graduates to talk about those activities and assignments where you have used skills similar to those used by a trainer.  (This could be an area where a YouTube video of you giving a 5 minute training session could be helpful or even the inclusion of lesson plans in your portfolio.)
  • Institutional repositories - I spoke with someone recently about the needs of for-profit organizations and government agencies in terms of help with digital data/information.  It occurred to me that students who have worked in or studied institutional repositories likely have skills that other organizations want, but that how each talks about the "job" is quite different.  If you have institutional repository experience, are you willing to look for a position outside of academia that uses those same skills?
  • Search engine development - Companies in this area need help with information retrieval and information organization.  They need people that are willing to work with programmers and development staff to create Google's successor or better search on mobile devices or.... 
  • Software development - Librarians understand users and software developers need to understand users (but often don't).  LIS graduates can act as a bridge between the two.
  • Independent information professionals - In other professions (e.g., medical and legal) graduates often see building their own business as what they want to do.  Among LIS graduates, this isn't on everyone's lips, yet it is a viable career choice.  There are a growing number of librarians who create their own businesses.  Some do it to carry them over between employment opportunities, while others see it as their career choice for them.  Likely among the librarians that you admire are people who make a living as consultants.  These people work on wide variety of different projects for every type of organization imaginable.  Yes, people are starting their own consulting practices right out of grad school.
Carnegie Library Building in downtown SyracuseWhat about traditional jobs?  Yes, they are out there, although some have morphed due to changing needs.  While there are still cataloguers, there are also people creating metadata and doing text encoding.  While there are still librarians working in traditional collection development, there are also people helping to acquire, organize and preserve digital content.  While there are librarians staffing in-library services, there are others who are working out in their respective communities and moving library services outside of the building.  If you are looking for a traditional job, recognize that they may not be what you think.

What about the competition?  Yes, you have competition and some of them are people you just went to school with.  Many employers actually like to have a deep pool of candidates.  Some will even keep a search open until they feel that they have received enough job applications, meaning that they aren't going to make a hiring decision based on a small pool of candidates.  So, yes, you have competition.  While it sounds flippant, the only thing you can do is be consider about yourself.  Present yourself, your skills and capabilities in the best possible light and let the competition worry about itself.

How many job applications do you need to do?   In Advice for The New Archivist, the author recounts information he has received from others.  As I read through the advice, I sense frustration, but also hear people saying to keep applying for positions.  In their advice, people talk about sending out dozens of job applications.  We often think that we should be hired after sending out a few job applications.  If that happens, be thankful.  Most people find that they need to apply for multiple jobs and often in a variety of geographic regions.

One of the benefits of sending out dozens of job applications, that is not mentioned, is that the applicant will refine his/her resume and cover letter during that process.  In other words, how you present yourself in application #30 should be better worded and focused that in application #1.  (Remember that your resume is always a work in progress.  It is never "done.")  In addition, you should have a better idea of what you are really looking for, what you will accept, etc.

Unless you have done multiple mock job interviews, your first telephone and in-person interviews will be learning experiences.  Again, you will get better with practice, no matter if that practice occurs in practice sessions or during real interviews.

What can you do to help land a job?  You already know these tips, but I'll repeat them.
    Pres4Lib at Triumph
  • Network - If you are interested in working in a specific geographic region or type of organization, find a way of networking with people in that area.  You might network through LinkedIn, at face-to-face events or on email discussion lists.
  • Hone your online presence - Look at every place where you have an online presence.  Is it professional looking?  Does it put your best "face" forward?  Will someone look at it and understand what are capable of doing?  You do not want someone to see your resume, then run your name through an Internet search engine and find a person that seems undesirable.    
  • Talk about what you can do for them - In your LinkedIn profile and cover letter - and in conversations as appropriate - talk about how your knowledge and skills will help them (the organization).  How can you help them do "X"?  how can you help them better address a specific need?  How can you help them solve a problem?
  • Craft your resume to fit the opening - I know this is a pain in the butt and time-consuming, but it is also very helpful.  In addition, you should work your resume so it can be understood by people who aren't familiar with the jargon.  The first person to look at your resume may be someone in human resources, rather than someone in the unit that has the job opening.
  • Exude confidence - Have a resume that says you can do "that."  In the interview, say you can do "that." And most important, exude in every cell of your body and in every moment that you can do "that."  You don't have to be arrogant.  You just have to be confident.
Finally, if you haven't yet graduated or perhaps you're going to begin an LIS program in the fall, look at the five tips above and begin to implement them now, especially the first two.  Also begin to read and keep job ads, especially those that fit your career trajectory.  Those will help to guide what you do in and outside of the classroom.  They will help to focus your internship experiences and your networking.  And when you graduate, you will already have a list of place where you will want to send your resume.

Attending school in the fall? Here are more tips.

Looking for a resource to help you prepare for your future? Check out The Information and Knowledge Professional's Career Handbook which is available through many booksellers and through interlibrary loan.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Digital longevity

One of the last assignments students do in IST 677 - Creating, Managing and Preserving Digital Assets - is to write a paper about a group of digital assets that they have (or perhaps deal with at work) and discuss how those assets are or are not being kept alive for the long term. (There are specific points that the papers have to discuss.) Several things stood out to me this semester, after reading 34 papers:

A growing number of people are concerned about the ability to use their collection of video games for decades to come. Whether or not you like video games, you will agree that they have become an important artifact of our society. They say something about who we are and how we use technology. They are not just games anymore, but are stories with their own musical scores. Some even mimic reality (thinking specifically of the games from EA Sports).

Video games are hard to preserve for a number of reasons including proprietary software and hardware formats, and DRM. They are also complex in structure, including how newer games interact with files in different locations (e.g., the cloud). While each student who is interested in keeping their video games for the ramainder of their lives had ideas of how to do it, no one had a perfect solution. Even illegal solutions will not provide the same gaming experience.

We are now downloading more content (e.g., music, movies). We don't have physical media for this downloadable content and sometimes can't even create our own backups of it. Like video games, people are investing lots of money into content that they could lose in an instant.

We aren't teaching people how to manage their content. For example, MS Windows Explorer allows me to edit the properties of a file (e.g., photo) and add a description and metadata. People would see the value of that, especially with their digital photos, but they don't know that the option is there. Instead people have a growing mess of digital content on their computers.

Finally, we don't learn from our mistakes or problems. We have all lost files or almost lost files. Did that cause you to permanently change your ways? No. Interestingly, people who are trying to preserve their video games can be very methodical and protective of their gear. However, when it comes to our other files, we have a laissez faire attitude...and that is not good.

While reading the papers, I realized everything that I don't do to ensure that my files will not only last, but be useable by me and others in 50 years. (Yes, my goal is to have a very long life!) Now my task is to see if I can get my act in shape and consistently do things differently. Honestly, I know that the spirit is willing, but the rest of me may not have drive to follow through, just like many of my peers.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Courts rule in Cambridge Univ. Press v. "GSU"

Last Friday, the judge finally ruled in the case of Cambridge University Press, Sage Publications and Oxford University Press v. several officials at Georgia State University (“GSU”).  The suit was file in April 2008, which demonstrates how slowly a copyright case can move through the court.  Testimony was given last year and it has taken months for the judge to decide on all counts.

According to the Chronicle of Higher Education:
A federal judge in Atlanta has handed down a long-awaited ruling in a lawsuit brought by three scholarly publishers against Georgia State University over its use of copyrighted material in electronic reserves. The ruling, delivered on Friday, looks mostly like a victory for the university, finding that only five of 99 alleged copyright infringements did in fact violate the plaintiffs' copyrights.
K. Matthew Dames has provided a summary of the ruling, along with implications and notes that the publishers may file an injunction.  Dames also notes that this ruling demonstrates the importance of academic institutions having copyright policies AND educating their faculty, staff and students about the policy.

I expect more analysis to be written about this case in the coming days and weeks, so if you are an academic librarian, keep your eyes open!

Monday, May 14, 2012

It Matters! (Jeffrey Katzer Professor of the Year Award speech)

Photo courtesy of J.D. Ross, (c) 2012.
On Saturday, graduating library & information science student Sylvie Merlier-Rowen presented me with the Jeffrey Katzer Professor of the Year Award.  Established in honor of former Professor and Interim Dean Jeffrey Katzer, this award recognizes a full-time faculty member for outstanding teaching, advising and service.  This year, the recipient (me) was selected by iSchool graduate students.

I was thrilled, shocked and humbled when I heard that I had been selected, especially since it also meant that I would have the opportunity to speak at the iSchool's Convocation, which honors all of its graduating students.  What could I say that would be appropriate and memorable in three minutes?  Below is my written text and yes I did deviate from the text in a few spots, including the addition of a little audience participation ("repeat after me...").

Since the Convocation, I have been heartened by the number of people - including students, parents and grandparents - who have commented on the speech, including people that I had not met before.  Clearly it resonated and I hope it is remembered.

Addendum (5/18/2012): Diane Stirling wrote a blog post about my speech.  If you're curious, you can read it here.

I want to thank all of the graduate students for this award. It has been an honor to stand before you in the classroom and to help prepare you to be leaders in the information profession.

I have been allotted three minutes in order to impart some words of wisdom. I have been wondering what I can say in three minutes that will be important and memorable.

In three minutes?!

Well...this is it…

It all matters! Every class you took – even the ones that you didn’t like –…every assignment that you did, every ah-ha and oh-no, every late night and every early morning.

All of it. It matters.

You will argue, of course, that some of what you did here didn’t matter. You can likely think about something that you did that didn’t seem to make a difference in your life. To that, I would add the word “yet”. It hasn’t made a difference in your life yet.

The full impact of what you have done here at Syracuse and what you have learned in your classes is not immediately apparent. In fact, the importance of some things you have learned may not become apparent until you have become a seasoned professional.

Remember that we were not trying to prepare you for your first day of work, but for your career. Thus some of the lessons you have learned will not become apparent until the time is right.

I have stood in your shoes. Wondered why. And then seen the fruits of my academic efforts come…in…due…time.

And that brings me to a second message for you.

Everything you will do from this day forward also matters. You will make a difference in the world, both in large and small ways. You will connect people and organizations with the information that they need. You will develop new tools and technologies. You will help us finally eliminate the digital divide. You will even help your parents understand how to use their mobile devices!

What you will do – with all that you have learned here – will matter. And we will all be proud of you!

Thank you.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Blog post: The Legacy of a Digital Generation

One hundred years from now, will anyone know what you did today, or even that you were alive? Did you leave any trail marking your existence, or did you leave no trace? Did you send someone a birthday card? Did you write a love note? We often begin our research classes with these questions.
What are we doing to ensure that this isn't the lost generation?  That something of this generation remains after it is gone?  Could it be that those cultures that aren't oriented to be digital will be the ones that will be remembered?  Will the rest of us disappear from history?

Travel TrunksThese are questions that are raised every few years and always remain unanswered.  Instead we become even more reliant on our digital technologies.

Jane Carlin and Barb Macke wrote part 2 and noted at the end:
Everyone has a story, everyone has a box -- what's in yours? What will happen to it after you are gone?
Perhaps instead of giving our children digital devices, we should give each of them a box and tell them to put pieces of their lives in it that they want to keep "forever".  Of course, not everything will stay in the box - some items will get weeded out - but its contents will tell a story.  And what is important is that it tell the story as that person wants it told.  This is their version of their life and no one else.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Archived webinar: Navigating Your Career Path: Detours and Rough Roads

Five months ago, I gave a webinar on "Navigating Your Career Path: Detours and Rough Roads."  Due to a technical glitch, the archive version is finally available online

At the SLA Annual Conference in July, I'll be speaking on a similar topic (Make the Most of a Difficult Situation: Solutions to Get You Through).  If you are attending that conference, I hope you come to my session on Monday morning. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

Working in teams

When an employer calls to check someone's references, the person asks a number of questions.  One of the things the employer wants to know is if the person can work in teams.  Most academic programs have classes where teamwork is required.  Students learn how to work in teams through instruction, in-class exercises and by just doing it. 

Below are two handouts from Loughborough University on working in teams. I've used these with students and know that there are some business teams that could benefit from them. Both have similar content, with the longer handout also being newer.
This semester, I used information from Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono with students.  This book helps you think about your own approach to situations and problems, and gives you a framework for approaching a problem differently.  It could be very useful to have an entire team read the book and then "try on" the different "hats."  It could help a team function more effectively.

Finally, at a recent event, we were broken up into small groups and given the "marshmallow challenge." Below is the TED video about it and there is a web site with more details.  This is an interesting engineering problem at which kindergarten students excel at (not adults).  You might consider using the marshmallow challenge as a team building exercise, then use the video to debrief the group and start a conversation about what teams need to do in order to function well.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Report: Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound

I received this press release and wanted to share it.  With more than 100 years of moving pictures, this is an important topic.

The DPC, Richard Wright and Charles Beagrie Ltd are delighted to announce the release of the latest DPC Technology Watch Report ‘Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound’, written by Richard Wright, formerly of the BBC.

‘Moving image and sound content is at great risk’, explained Richard Wright.  ‘Surveys have shown that 74 per cent of professional collections are small: 5,000 hours or less. Such collections have a huge challenge if their holdings are to be preserved. About 85 per cent of sound and moving image content is still analogue, and in 2005 almost 100 per cent was still on shelves rather than being in files on mass storage. Surveys have also shown that in universities there is a major problem of material that is scattered, unidentified, undocumented and not under any form of preservation plan. These collection surveys are from Europe and North America because there is no survey of the situation in the UK, in itself a cause for concern.’

‘This report is for anyone with responsibility for collections of sound or moving image content and an interest in preservation of that content.’ 

‘New content is born digital, analogue audio and video need digitization to survive and film requires digitization for access. Consequently, digital preservation will be relevant over time to all these areas. The report concentrates on digitization, encoding, file formats and wrappers, use of compression, obsolescence and what to do about the particular digital preservation problems of sound and moving images.’

The report discusses issues of moving digital content from carriers (such as CD and DVD, digital videotape, DAT and minidisc) into files. This digital to digital ‘ripping’ of content is an area of digital preservation unique to the audio-visual world, and has unsolved problems of control of errors in the ripping and transfer process. It goes on to consider digital preservation of the content within the files that result from digitization or ripping, and the files that are born digital. While much of this preservation has problems and solutions in common with other content, there is a specific problem of preserving the quality of the digitized signal that is again unique to audio-visual content. Managing quality through cycles of ‘lossy’ encoding, decoding and reformatting is one major digital preservation challenge for audio-visual as are issues of managing embedded metadata.

DPC members have already had a preview.  Pip Laurenson of Tate commented ‘This is  a terrific report. Thank you so much for commissioning it - it is the best thing I have read on the subject.’ 

The report has also been subject to extensive review prior before publication.  Oya Rieger and colleagues at Cornell University who reviewed the final draft welcomed the report: ‘It is a very thorough report. We realize that it was a challenging process to gather and organize all this information and present it in a succinct narrative. Another virtue of the report is that it incorporates both analog and digital media issues. The final section with conclusions and recommendation is very strong and provides an excellent summary.'  

Another reviewer explained why the preview for DPC-members was so timely: ‘We are currently working on a grant proposal focusing on new media art and having access to the preserving moving pictures and sound report was very useful. The report provides a thorough characterization of the current practices, shortcomings, and challenges. Having access to the report has saved us from spending expensive time on conducting a literature review. ‘

DPC Technology Watch Reports identify, delineate, monitor and address topics that have major bearing on ensuring our collected digital memory will be available tomorrow.  They provide an advanced introduction in order to support those charged with ensuring a robust digital memory and they are of general interest to a wide and international audience with interests in computing, information management, collections management and technology.  The reports are commissioned after consultation with members; they are written by experts; and they are thoroughly scrutinised by peers before being released.  The reports are informed, current, concise and balanced and they lower the barriers to participation in digital preservation. The reports are a distinctive and lasting contribution to the dissemination of good practice in digital preservation.

‘Preserving Moving Pictures and Sound’ is the second Technology Watch Report to be published by the DPC in association with Charles Beagrie Ltd. Neil Beagrie, Director of Consultancy at Charles Beagrie Ltd, was commissioned to act as principal investigator and managing editor of the series in 2011.  The managing editor has been further supported by an Editorial Board drawn from DPC members and peer reviewers who have commented on the text prior to release.  The Editorial Board comprises William Kilbride (Chair), Neil Beagrie (Series Editor), Janet Delve (University of Portsmouth), Sarah Higgins (Archives and records Association), Tim Keefe (Trinity College Dublin), Andrew McHugh (University of Glasgow) and Dave Thompson (Wellcome Library).

The report is online at: (PDF 915KB)

Wayback Wednesday: Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators

Each year, I now teach a graduate course in copyright for library and information science students. The classes uses several resources for its readings, including Kenny Crews' Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators. Last year, Crews updated the book, which is now in its third edition.  I have found the previous editions - which I've mentioned here before - to be very useful in the classroom because of their clear explanations.  They are also good reference works to be used after class has ended.  This fall, I'll be using the new edition, when I teach the copyright class again (IST 735: Copyright for Information Professionals). I'm sure that my students will enjoy this editions as much as students have enjoyed the previous edition. 

If Kenny Crews is not a person that you are familiar with, here are two Digitization 101 blog posts that will help you get to know him better.
Crews blogs occasionally for the Columbia University Libraries Copyright Advisory office.  This post - Fresh Look at the Fair Use Checklist - will be of interest to anyone who is dealing with Fair Use (Title 17, Section 107).

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Thoughts on digital literacy and digitization

Currently, I spend many hours using technology including a laptop, iPad and iPhone.  In some ways, I might be considered a "power user."  For example, yesterday I checked my online class using an app on my phone, while riding a city bus, and was able to respond to a thread in the discussion forum.  While there were other people on the bus with smartphones, I doubt that anyone else was engrossed in work like I was and unconcerned about how much data was being transmitted.  (Thank goodness for an unlimited data plan!)

At a recent conference, I used my phone to check email and to tweet using the telephone's 3/4 G network, I took notes on my iPad, and then did work at night using my laptop (full keyboard).  Each device had its own role and played it quite well.

But not everyone lives my life.  That has been made clear to me as I worked during the winter on a digital literacy grant that is developing workshops to help everyday people learn basic computer skills.  These are skills that I and you take for granted.  Skills that allow us to function effectively in this tech-centered work. Working on the grant raised a number of questions for me, including...

Cell Phone KidHow do you know if someone is digitally literate?  Looking around at people who were riding the bus with me, I saw several using their smartphones to do tasks, like check Facebook. they have figured out how to do that, but does that prove that they are digitally literate?  For example, if I put the person in front of another device, would the person figure out how to use it?  Could the person explain the concept of an "app"?  Can the person recognize spam?  Can the person use a computer to complete a job application?

What I find interesting is that many people access information from their phones, but our current phones can't fully replace a personal computer. So even if a person can zip around the Internet, send email, etc., on a phone, can the person do the same on a PC?  If that person was offered a job that required PC skills, could the person transfer his phone skills into PC skills?  No.

Our phones are geared to make using them easy.  They guess at what I'm trying to type and will autocorrect text.  (This is both useful and annoying.)  They can have many more free programs that what we might load on our PCs that provide a wide variety of functionality.  Our phones become a critical part of our lives because of their functionality and because they are always with us.

So my iPhone and iPad try to make using them easy, but then I go back to my laptop and am annoyed that it doesn't do the same.  It doesn't guess at what I'm trying to type.  It doesn't automatically insert punctuation.  It doesn't help me be digitally literate.

Yes...we need to LEARN how to use a PC.  We can't just pick it up and automatically know what to do.  Yet our phones are geared to be more intuitive.  I know...there is still a learning curve, but it is not as steep as a PC.  And...yes...phones don't provide the same level of functionality as a PC. However, phones are affordable.

Many workers now use devices that are computing devices but that are not PCs. Look at the local delivery person, who comes to the door with a tablet device or the person doing inventory in the grocery store with a handheld scanner.  Could it be that our businesses are gearing their computing needs/devices to mimic what everyday people have access to?  Is this perpetuating the digital divide where knowledge workers will be using PCs and blue collar workers (laborers) will use some other computing device?

This project has also made me realize that the efforts that I hold dear (digitization programs) are not geared for the masses.  Indeed, when we scope out our programs, we generally talk about them being appropriate for students, teachers and researchers.  We are targeting them for the user can locate our program, often using an Internet search engine, and then can successfully navigate our site.  (In other words, we assume that the user has the necessary digital literacy skills.)  We trust that the language on the site is appropriate for the user, although in the U.S. nearly 15% lack basic prose literacy skills.

So what's the bottom line?

As we continue to we continue to adopt we continue to succumb to the allure of technology...let's also look for solutions that will eliminate the digital divide that still exists.  That might mean offering more training, installing more public access computing labs, loaning mobile devices, or remembering that paper is need a useful mode of communication.  Let's not be techno-snobs  who ignore the reality in front of us.