Computers in Libraries 2007: Alane Wilson

“You’re the first people to hear about this research, but you’re also the first to hear that we’re not done.”

citing Lee Rainey from this morning, “the network is everything; the network is the computer.” [Rainey had said that the gap between computer owners and internet users is essentially negligible — having a computer means having the internet.]

During/after the internet bubble, people assumed the internet was “done” — but the growth curve continues upward. People’s interest in doing things on the web has not diminished.

All the networks of users and the pipes and tubes of the internet make up Ubicomp = ubiquitous computing, where computing becomes background noise to daily life, computing while untethered to machines. We’re almost there. [Cyberpunk, ahoy.]

Librarians participants were difficult to acquire for the survey on privacy and social networking; perhaps because OCLC’s name wasn’t on it? Harris polling could have been working for anyone, so we were perhaps reluctant to talk. “Maybe you thought we were Homeland Security.” Survey done worldwide, in native languages of the countries in question.

Some interesting exemplary data:

“The culture of Paper” : librarians have a very different culture of reading than the general population — they read “way, way more”, and are print-oriented. Less than 5% of librarians but more than 40% of the general public read (on or offline) less than 5 hours per week. Librarians also have increased their rate of reading faster/more than the general public. All of this colors our perceptions about what people might or should be doing. “We ARE a separate tribe, with different likes and dislikes than other people”. [That’s noteworthy and startling data.]

[the wireless bombed out again. Boo. To sum up:]

Librarians read more than the general population
Librarians do chat rooms and IM less than general population
Librarians do more internet searching and blog reading than general population
Librarians use our own services more than the general population

All of this indicates that we’re a tribe of our own, and all of these facts color our perceptions of what people are doing, of what people should be doing, and what people might be doing. [We’ve got to be aware of our own prejudices]

So: Privacy and security.

We’re leaving all sorts of permanent digital footprints on the web through social sites. What does that say about privacy? Our perceptions and our needs for privacy have not caught up with the technology. There’s a gap between what’s actually happening and what we’d prefer to have happen.

Privacy is one of our main professional values – but privacy has many interpretations and meanings. It can mean security of intimate data. It can also mean anonymity.

Great idea flip: Most agree we should know who our politicians take money from, but most disagree that people should know who we give money to. “There’s the dilemma and the paradox of privacy.”

Librarians reveal very different pieces of information on social media sites – and there are fascinating differences between demographics, as well, particularly among the Japanese respondents – and we need to acknowledge those cultural trends. We don’t LIKE giving up that information, but other people DO.

BUT: 38% of people wanted no information about library use dshared with the public, and only 24% would want to give up that privacy in order to personalize services. [that’s interesting; library users, then, are different from standard internet habits, OR, people want different things from libraries than from the internet.]

[I can’t wait to read this OCLC white paper. It’s going to be fascinating. It links directly in to my thoughts that we must must MUST ask our users and really understand what they say before we offer them services.]

When asked if libraries should build social networks, the overwhelmeing commentary was that Libraries Collect And Loan Books And Nothing Else. For lots of reasons, but the overwhelming reasons being that libraries provide information and not socializing, and they don’t want us to do anything else.  [Lots of fantastic anecdotal quotes that made us all laugh a lot.  The best one:  “I work in a seminary.” as the sole comment as to why libraries shouldn’t have social networking functions.]

[Alane Wilson is a great speaker, and I recommend going to hear her.  Also, I want OCLC to get writing and publishing this data.]

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