Community Technology Empowerment Project

In an effort to help bridge the digital divide for recent immigrants and low income communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network has initiated the Community Technology Empowerment Project. According to their site:

The primary goal of this project is to help partner agencies utilize their existing community technology resources to better serve the needs of both youth and adults within their local neighborhoods, especially new immigrant, low-income residents and persons with disabilities.

A secondary goal is teach agency staff, volunteers and visitors how to use new technologies (including digital video and web) in order to help their constituents connect with existing civic, social service and community resources.

Additionally, all AmeriCorps CTEP members are required to mobilize volunteers at their host sites, participate in member development activities, and learn about civic engagement during their service year.

Citizen Media Law Project Laments Loss of Libraries

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

The Citizen Media Law Project, a “research center founded to explore cyberspace, share in its study, and help pioneer its development,” points out, in a recent blog post, the contradiction between the FCC upgrading the broadband standard and communities facing library closures.

The prevalence of broadband-capable infrastructure is unimportant, so long as a main method of Internet exposure is dying. Dwindling library access, rather than stagnant Broadband penetration, is a far larger threat to the nation’s Internet access.

The post notes that libraries are the main source of Internet access for poor communities, especially noting how important this access is for job seekers during the recession who may no longer be able to afford Internet access at home to conduct job searches.

Part of the mission of The Citizen Law Media Project is “to build a community of lawyers, academics, and others who are interested in facilitating citizen participation in online media and protecting the legal rights of those engaged in speech on the Internet.” It is no surprise that they are concerned about “the tens of millions of Americans who are gradually losing their only avenue to a wealth of online resources.”

Posted in Digital Divide. Tags: . Comments Off on Citizen Media Law Project Laments Loss of Libraries

Your Brain on Computers

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

The New York Times is running an interesting series called “Your Brain on Computers,” which investigates the impact of technology on everyday life. According to the NY Times, the series aims to examine “how a deluge of data can affect the way people think and behave.” So far, the series comprises three articles:

Of interest as well are some of the sidebar information:

As you can probably tell by the headlines, many of these articles paint heavy use of technology as a potential danger. For example, in Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price, Matt Richel writes:

While many people say multitasking makes them more productive, research shows otherwise. Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.

And scientists are discovering that even after the multitasking ends, fractured thinking and lack of focus persist. In other words, this is also your brain off computers.

I would imagine most readers of this blog have a more positive experience with technology than presented in these articles. Do the research and anecdotes reflect your experiences with technology?

<update>Steven Pinker, in his article, Mind Over Mass Media also from the New York Times, is not responding directly to the Your Brain on Computers series, but he certainly is addressing very similar issues and presents a seemingly contradictory point of view:

Critics of new media sometimes use science itself to press their case, citing research that shows how “experience can change the brain.” But cognitive neuroscientists roll their eyes at such talk. Yes, every time we learn a fact or skill the wiring of the brain changes; it’s not as if the information is stored in the pancreas. But the existence of neural plasticity does not mean the brain is a blob of clay pounded into shape by experience.

Perhaps it’s safe to say the jury is still out on these issues.

</update>

Libraries and the New Media Ecosystem

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has posted a presentation by Lee Rainie which he gave at the Catalonian Library Association’s biennial meeting and to librarians at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid. The site posts not only the slides but also a transcript of the presentation.

In this presentations, Rainie describes how the information ecosystem has changed in the past 10 years. In doing so, he points to many interesting and informative facts, such as how in 2000, 46% of American adults used the Internet compared to 75% in their most recent study and how less that 10% of people worked in the cloud in 2000 compared to more than two-thirds today.

But the crux of his presentation is his more philosophical description of the 8 ways that the Media Ecosystem has changed.  Although he does not specifically refer to transliteracy in his presentation, he does outline the challenges presented to technology users who are now faced with more outlets to gain and to give information via a greater variety of media.

The 8 changes he discusses are:

  • The growth of the volume of information
  • The increase in the variety and visibility of information at its creators
  • The impact on people’s use of time and attention
  • The increase in the velocity of information
  • The changing nature and availability of information venues
  • The compelling vibrance of virtual environments
  • The improved relevance of information results
  • The participatory nature of information exchanges

Scholars’ Use of Digital Media

[tweetmeme source=”librarianbyday” only_single=false]

The Chronicle of Higher Education summarizes an interesting study by Ithaka which surveyed how academic faculty use various digital media. The study focuses on three areas:

  • how faculty members use and perceive their campus libraries
  • how they are handling the print-to-digital shift in scholarly work
  • how much they have or have not changed their professional habits in an increasingly electronic environment

Many of the findings will probably not be very surprising to academic librarians. Scholars are less likely to begin their research at the library (physically) or at a library catalog. They have a preference for access to electronic journals rather than print; however, they have been slow to adopt e-book readers. Scholars put more faith in traditional publishing avenues rather than in open-access journals.

The full report can be found here.

%d bloggers like this: