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Lee Rainie Talks About Adding Value

Lee Rainie, Director, Pew Internet Project, gave this morning’s keynote address, advising attendees on how libraries can add value to communities. He wowed the audience when he said he’s paying back the library love he’s received.


He then talked about the three revolutions Pew has identified in its longitudinal surveys. The first is about internet and broadband. Pew found a sharp increase in adoption rates of both internet and broadband technologies up until 2007 when it started to level out.


The second revolution concerns wireless connectivity, by which he meant both mobile phones and connecting wirelessly on laptops. He noted age differences in cell phone adoption and their increasing use as social tools for sharing photos and videos, accessing social networking sites, and some limited use of location-based technology. Pew statistics on apps reveal that, even when people have apps, they don’t always use them because they haven’t figured it out. Rainie made distinctions between questions best answered on the net (who, what, where, when) and those best answered by databases (how and why).


The third revolution is in social networking. The demographics of people using social networks is increasingly diverse. With ubiquitous mobility and pervasive awareness of what other people are doing comes the fear of missing out.


What do these revolutions mean to librarians? Our expertise in teaching others about technology is badly needed. The library as place becomes library as placeless resource as we go to people rather than having people come to the library. Librarians add value by helping people navigate among information sources and technologies, by understanding context, and by providing quiet space (Rainie referred to this as “sanctuary”). Librarians can be embedded in peoples’ networks and serve as nodes in social media.


Rainie ended his talk by delineating some cosmic values that libraries add. Teach new literacy skills, including screen literacy, navigation literacy, and context literacy. Encourage skepticism and contemplative time. Explain how to create content. Above all, consider ethical behavior in this new world. Rainie’s other cosmic value concerned how librarians can help fill in civic gaps.

Lee Rainie talks about where libraries can add value


Librarians must rely on their wits. Our new constituencies require different types of information delivered in new ways. From the tenor of his talk, it’s apparent that Lee Rainie remains a strong advocate of librarians, recognizing their technical savvy and their moral stances. He is, indeed, sharing the love.

Friending Libraries

Lee Rainie (Photo by Don Hawkins)

Lee Rainie (Photo by Don Hawkins)

Lee Rainie, Director Pew Internet & American Life Project, starting to discuss some new research on how people are using social networks. He’s already put up his slides on the Pew website. You can follow him on Twitter @lrainie. Now he’s mentioning hash tags and I’m sure hoping people will use #cil09 not what he’s recommending, which is #cil2009 (that’s an extra 2 characters). He’s searching Twitter on the hash tag #cil2009 to show who’s live tweeting.

Latest data (2008) on “internet is the asteroid” – 75% of adults use internet, 5% have broadband at home, 6% connect wirelessly, and over 53% use “cloud” (whatever that is). The ecosystem has changed in terms of volume/variety of info. Changes behavior of searchers. Plus, there’s more stuff (velocity speeds up). You can experience media when you want to and where you want to. Time and place shifting. You can dig more deeply into subjects (his data shows this is particulary important for health questions) but there’s also a contraction in vigilance for information (people set up more rigorous screenings). It’s continuous partial attention. Media is immersive — and ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet’ — think virtual worlds. Changes how people interact with media. Improvements in relevance will lead to “The Daily Me” (that comes from the MIT Media Lab from years ago). There’s more information voices and info is more findable. Half of adults are content creators, 75% of teens have. Voting and ventilating are enabled. You can make your own preferences known in the world and can add their own tags, ranking and rating interactions with institutions. Social networks are most vivid. People are falling back on ‘real’ social networks. When they encounter new things, they ping their networks.

Personal activitis and media have joined together. Institutions can be nodes in peoples’ social networks, be reliable information sense makers.

Behold Homo Connectus, a brand new species, which has different expectations about access to information, changes in place and distance affects how people view interactions with others. There are more opportunities to play.

New tech-user typology: He’s showing data Pew released last Thursday. Did inventory on what gadgets they used, actions they did with those gadgets, and their attitudes toward their gadgets. The latter is really important. 39% are motivated by mobility, while the rest (61%, if your math is shaky) are tied to stationary media. Wireless encourages content creation. The stationary group have technology as more peripheral in their lives (they’ve plateaued in internet use).

5 groups in each. Those who are motivated by mobility: 1. Digital collaborators (8% of population) lead the pack, top of the food chain, geek squad, cutting edge of technology adopters (the ones who are tweeting right now about Rainie). But they’re GenX not GenY. They’re influencers. (I’m looking at the people sitting in the front of the room with laptops open and we meet Rainie’s demographics for this particular demographic.) 2. Ambivalent networkers (7%) resemble group 1, but not so sure about all this, expres worry about connectivity and want to take a break from technology. They feel obligated to be always on, but they’d rather not. It’s younger, male-dominated, and texters rather than emailers. 3. Media movers (7%) send links all the time to snapshots and YouTube videos. Information sharing is social currency. It’s non-work sharing, though. 4. Roving nodes (9%) actively manage social and work lives using mobile device. They love email and are mainly women. Help them be efficient is how you reach this group and teach them about cloud apps. 5. Mobile newbies (8%) just got mobile device and its a conversion experience. Cell phone is central gadget in lives, but don’t necessarily use internet. They need tech support, how to materials, coacing and mentoring.

Stationary media majority: 1. Desktop veterans (13%) want to sit at their desks and surf the internet. All they need is a good connection. 2. Drifting surfers (14%) are “just not into it.” Their attitudes toward technology have worsened. 3. Information encumbered (10%) are really mad; they don’t like what technology does to their lives. Feel overloaded rather than extra productive. Minds blow up with gadgets don’t work. They need a hug. Offer them sanctuary. 4. Tech indifferent (10%) can take it or leave it. Might need basic tutorial, internet 101. 5. Off the network (14%) speaks for itself. They see no lifestyle improvements with technology. Newfangled stuff just doesn’t work for them.

Checking in with the Twittershere to see who’s said what.

Roles for libraries in friending activities.

1. Pathways to problems solving information – be validator
2. Pathways to personal enrichment – “most lovely thing about libraries” libraries as life enhancer
3. Pathways to entertainment
4. Pathways to new kinds of social networks built around people, media, and institutions – help folks build communities
5. Pathways to the wisdom of crowds, so you fill in your own future here …

Use hashtag to participate in new worlds of social networks.

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

Opening CIL Keynote, Mon Mar 29


Lee Rainie

Lee Rainie is a good friend of librarians and Information Today.  We are pleased to welcome him back to CIL09 to open our conference with this his talk, Friending Libraries:  The Nodes in People’s Social Networks.  I was just having a look at the website for Lee’s organization, Pew Internet and American Life Project — and guess what?  It has a new look and feel.  If you haven’t checked it out lately, please have a look, and also see all the new reports they have.  Lee tells me there are more new reports coming and he plans to share results of the new research with attendees at Computers in Libraries 2009!  Don’t miss it.  And check out the link to his talk at CIL09 on the front of the Pew Internet web page — yeah!

Jane Dysart, Conference Program Chair