Thursday, July 7, 2011

Connections and Community --- and a thought provoking video

Brene Brown: The power of vulnerability | Video on

This video came to me from my friend Lauren, who is also a librarian, but an academic music cataloger -- in library land, it is rather as if a tennis star knew a NASCAR driver -- both professional athletes but in very different worlds.  We met through a friend who is yet another kind of librarian, though a school librarian and a children's librarian are more like, say, baseball players in two different leagues.  I've been several kinds of librarian, which is considered unusual.  That could be the whole topic of an essay, but what I'm really thinking about is connections and community.

I now get email on my phone, and, in an attempt to simplify my life, am trying to have one main email address, so much of my professional mail in terms of online groups and communities now comes to that address.  And I scroll right past it.  What I click on are the items from people I know.  Sometimes, they contain brilliant and interesting professional or personal growth items, like this one, and I have my blog idea for the day.

When I've found all the emails from friends and family, and all the ones with work attached -- like online bills -- I will  go back and read the listservs and community newsletters.  Occasionally, they make the first click cut if they have really interesting headlines -- or if I have extra time.

Which leads me to my question of the day about creating online communities and about technology integration.  I encourage faculty to join online communities;  I sign up for lists and add things to Google Reader (where I am more likely to have my attention caught by good headlines, because I've gone to the site intending to do some professional reading);  I try to organize incoming things into folders -- but I am buried by things I'd like to read -- much of it relegated to the someday that never comes.  I think the forwarding rate of routed magazines, if studied, would show that it wasn't /isn't that different with print materials. It's not helpful to let it create dusty stacks -- physical or electronic -- or shame.  We should probably celebrate, instead, the gems that do make it to the top.

So the question remains -- how do we take advantage of all the information out there and all the opportunities to learn new things or adapt new techniques -- without being overwhelmed? 

Email remains our 'technology integration' success story.  We put it on everyone's desk, we let them play solitaire to learn how to use the mouse, and we encouraged them to use it for personal correspondence to provide the ultimate carrot "you could see pictures of your grandchildren."  The same carrot works for Skype -- most of the people my age I know who Skype have either distant grandchildren or students studying abroad -- but what of other technologies?  Can we afford to give everyone an iPAD and let them play "angry birds" at work?  Probably not.  In education, we have moved back to thinking that if people really want to have their own technology, they will buy it, but that may not be true with shrinking budgets and shrinking salaries. 

All that, before we get to the real question -- which technology?  which tool, which group, which community?  What are our priorities?   Should we look at what's the newest thing out there?  Or would we be better off concentrating on perfecting the use of tools which students and teachers already have? 

We know there's some value in  relying on serendipity and the good taste of our friends.

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Fortune Cookie

Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty.
Beauty is not love.
Love is not music.
Music is the best.
Frank Zappa