Thursday, October 18, 2007

WLA 2007: The New Media Ecology

The New Media Ecology: How the Growth of the Internet and Cell Phones Have Changed the Way People Deal with Each Other, Receive Information, and Create and Share Media
a presentation by Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, Washington D.C.

Five hallmarks of the new digital ecosystem:
  1. media and gadgets are ubiquitous in everyday life
  2. the internet -- especially broadband --is at the center of the revolution
  3. new gadgets allow people to enjoy media, gather info, and carry on communication anywhere; wireless; mobile devices; the Internet is part of everyday life; no sense of being "online"
  4. ordinary citizens have a chance to be publishers, movie-makers, artists, song creators, and storytellers
  5. different people use these technologies in different ways
MySpace and Facebook ="dashboards for social life"

19% of online young adults have created an avatar that interacts with others online
9% of all adult internet users have done this

A Typology of Information and Communication Technology Users :
  • omnivores - they have the most gadgets and services, which they use voraciously to participate and express themselves online, and do a range of Web 2.0 activities
  • connectors - they connect to people and manage digital content using internet-connected technology
  • lackluster veterans - they have all the gadgets, but they aren't nearly as happy with it as groups 1 and 2; more bothered about the number of interruptions in their life from being connected
  • productivity enhancers - willing to use tech in their job, but not in the rest of their lives
  • mobile centrics - have a decent array of gadgetry and fully embrace all that their phone can do; "absence presence"
  • connected but hassled - they're connected, but they really don't like it; find connectivity intrusive and a burden
  • inexperienced experimenters - occasionally take advantage of interactivity, the gadgets they have they really like; go with the flow
  • light but satisfied - they have some tech, but it doesn't play a central role in their daily lives
  • indifferents - proudly anti-technology; find technology annoying
  • off the network - have neihter cell phones nor internet access; off the grid
Take the typology "Where Do I Fit?" quiz at

large low-tech crowd - 49%
small technophile group - 8%

"this is the age of amateur experts"

what does all this connectivity do to us?
  • it changes our relationship to information
  • it changes our relationship to each other
Life changes in 10 important ways:
  1. volume of information grows -- the "long tail" expands
  2. velocity of information increases -- "smart mobs" emerge; people learn stuff more quickly through RSS, social networks; instantaneous conversation; word of mouth is a more powerful way to transmit information than mass media
  3. venues of intersecting with information and people multiply -- place-shifting and time-shifting occurs; "absent presence" occurs
  4. venturing for information changes -- search strategies and search expectations spread in the Google era; librarians get fewer queries that are much more complicated
  5. vigilance for information transforms -- attention is truncated ("continuous partial attention") and elongated ("deep dives"); multi-tasking more crazily
  6. valence (relevance) of information improves -- the "daily me" is the customized version of the daily newspaper (RSS feeds, iGoogle, email alerts, etc.); the "daily us" (Facebook groups)
  7. vetting of info becomes more "social" -- credibility tests change as people ping their social networks
  8. viewing of info is dis-aggregated and becomes more "horizontal" -- new reading strategies emerge as coping mechanisms; people scan the abstracts but don't do deep reading as much (a headline-reader)
  9. voting on and ventilating about info proliferates -- tagging, rating, and commenting on material is enabled -- collective intelligence emerges
  10. inVention of info and the visibility of new creators is enabled -- the read/write Web 2.0 is about participation
Action items:
  • think of yourself and your library as a news node for information and interaction -- find a way to be a part of peoples' social networks
  • think of yourself as an information hub -- an aggregator and a linker to others who have useful information
  • embrace channels of information that feed each other, interact, and blur
  • experiment with Web 2.0 applications
  • listen to your youngest employees, the "digital natives" who can translate for and teach older "digital immigrants"
  • monitor the pushback against technology as a time sink and interruption enabler; become participants in new conversations about etiquette and social norms in the digital age
  • become confident in what you already know about how to meet people's reference and entertainment (enlightenment) needs

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