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No Avoiding Shirky

The person I heard quoted the most during ALA wasn’t even in Chicago. It was Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody. At least 3 different people quoted his comment about technology from page 105, “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.”  (Or were they remembering his appearance last May on The Colbert Report? The quote is 1 minute and 16 seconds into the clip.)

Other people may also have quoted him, in one of the many sessions I wasn’t able to attend, given how spread out the conference was. I actually think the sentence that follows the one quoted is equally pertinent, “The invention of a tool doesn’t create change; it has to be around long enough that most of society is using it.” Librarians are talking about, and using, a wide range of new social media tools to communicate both within and outside the profession. They blog, Flickr, Facebook, FriendFeed, Twitter, receive and send RSS feeds, wiki, IM, podcast, vlog, tag, bookmark, and share like mad. Some librarians are beginning to find these tools boring, but others are just getting started with social technologies. Plus, most of society isn’t using them.

Issues surrounding the social media, 2.0-type tools, include measuring the impact, ROI, not getting too far ahead of library users, data ownership, loss of context, permanence versus ephemeral, and involving library staff and administration.

Marydee Ojala, Editor, ONLINE: Exploring Technology & Resources for Information Professionals


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