Deepening the Conversation

thinking about questions of authority, technology, learning, and 2.0 in academic libraries

1 Comment

Communication management.

I was just reading a post at Jenica’s and there was a line there that got me thinking

It doesn’t matter how much technology you throw at communication patterns, because until people learn to communicate effectively, the technology just facilitates ineffective communication.

It struck me, because I almost never see technology as the flaw in communication patterns.

And I always find it fascinating to get my perspective shifted. I have a tendency to think I’m right. Maybe I’m alone in that, but I suspect not. When I look at flawed communication at my place of work, my gut says it is a mentality, an intention, an approach to transparency, information sharing, what other people need to know, and what we each know about what each other are doing.

It only rarely occurs to me think of the problem as one of delivery, or technology. Which is a little silly, because one example immediately comes to mind: Reflog. When I started at my current (but not for long) place of work, librarians were supposed to use the paper reference log to track comments to each other. Which is exactly the practice I had been used to as a grad student, and as a grad student I religiously checked the reflog clipboard when I started a shift. (I only ever made notes in it as I left, big messages for next on)

I never worked it into my desk routine at MPOW. And I was not alone in that (non)practice

After a lot of persuading and pushing and pulling and eventually caveat, we started using a wiki for reference notes. And, lo, notes were taken, notes were read. It’s not perfect — some of the will is still bent in ways that don’t facilitate information sharing, but it is so much better than before!

What’s more interesting though is how the failure of communication continues to breed failure of communication. Jenica and I work together, and we both care about this issue. But we’ve never had a conversation about communication that revealed we may have very different understandings of the problem or it’ solutions. The problem got in the way of potentially productive conversations and solutions.

I’m going to try to make an effort to make a note every time I am confident I am right, and try to have a conversation with someone involved about the issue. Because being right isn’t always what matters — everyone else’s perspective is just as important when it comes to making change happen.

And being right doesn’t matter if nobody else agrees, right? 🙂



Googleplex. Horror movie.

I took a brief break this afternoon from coming up with creative reasons to do things other than pack my kitchen cabinets and fretting about not having an apartment in C-U yet to check in with my online peeps, my twitterati and FriendFeed folks.

I found myself a bit surprised to see how enthusiastically this savvy smart technologically forward thinking group of folks has embraced the beta testing of Chrome. Embraced it despite knowing it is from Google, miner of all data. And also despite the fact that there is general acknowledgment that while it is wicked fast, it lacks most bell & whistle features that folks depend on in Firefox and IE.

For me, Google has swung the pendulum back to paranoia inspiring. In library school, I was on the fence about the goodness of the Google, leaning towards concern. Over the last few years, my conscience has twinged me from time to time, but I have found their tools to be too too useful to give up for mere privacy concerns. But a Google Browser (and the in-the-works Google phone!) have inspired renewed fear. That’s right folks, fear.

Google says their motto is “don’t be evil”. And Google says that they just want to make all the information in the world publicly available. But I can no longer see how their emphasis on gaining access to my personal info, my impossible to get at personal info (like what I say on the phone!) — and everybody else’s personal info– in every possible way can be seen as anything but a force for Evil.

Because if they want to make all info available, pulling the info in is only step one. Aggregating and sending it out into the world is the inevitable outcome of their mission as combined with their current product development.

Based on Frienderati lack of Chrome-aversion (the whole privacy/googleplex thing is enough to ensure I won’t touch it) I am now actively dreading the Google Phone. Because I’ll need to come up with a way to block incoming calls from it, people. Google already gets enough of my private data to play with (and I wish I could wean myself from what google tools I use). But when the Google Phone comes out, I will no longer know when I making the choice to sell out the future for convenience’s sake.

Am I too paranoid? I really don’t think so. Google isn’t Microsoft — they are most explicitly not in the business of creating productivity products for cash income. They are in the business of making information accessible. When they go into the business of giving away productivity tools, you have to ask how that helps them achieve their own goals.

When media literate, digitally literate, technologically literate powers of teh interwebs turn their faces away from the implications, what chances do we stand of teaching our students to protect their own data? Oh, I just deleted a positively apocalyptic sentence comparing erosion of privacy to global warming. ::sigh:: That makes it time to close the post.

Interwebs, am I alone in my fear?