In the opening keynote speech, Michael Peter Edson, Co-Founder & Associate Director, Museum for the United Nations–UN Live, began by saying he’d changed to title of his talk to Cutting the Gordian Knot, or Jibo’s Goodbye. He asked:
How do we get difficult work done in society today?
How do we get millions or billions of people working together on global/local goals?
Who are we and what is our future?
From stories he told, we learning that, when an art class teacher told students they would be graded either on the quality of their best pot or the number of pots they produced, quantity won over quality. Another story revealed that reframing a question from where to find culture to who are the creative people in your community led to much better answers.
He showed the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and asked the audience to think of a story in support of one of the goals. (Conference chair Jane Dysart later reminded the audience that IFLA had been instrumental in getting access to information added as part of SDG 16.)
As for cutting the Gordian Knot, Edson recommended finding a direct path to your desired outcomes. Librarians should take more risks and be more assertive. We should recognize that an either/or mentality is a false dichotomy. For example, it’s not physical or digital; it’s a loop, a continuum. His view of global is that it’s a lot of local connected together.
He touched on the dark side of tech and said we should spin the problem space to find our angle. We must act.