Web 2.0

Crowdsourcing and Curating Collective Memory, Legends, and Local History with Facebook Groups

About two days ago, I noticed a flurry of postings from my local friends to a Facebook group called, “You’re Probably from Canton, GA (Cherokee County) If You Remember??” in which people were reminiscing about places, people, and traditions gone by in the local town and surrounding communities of Canton.   Out of curiosity, I began perusing the posts in the group this evening and am fascinated by the phenomenon I see happening here:  over 900 members are sharing collective memory, legends, lore, photographs, and remembrances of life in the past of Canton.

People are sharing musings and engaging in threaded conversations around historic photographs, school days, local events that no longer take place, “urban legends” (including one about one of my high school teachers, Miss Mauldin, who supposedly became distressed when she could not find her classroom after a group of mischievous teens pushed the lockers down the hall and concealed the entrance to her classroom), local figures, traditions, and cultural institutions of life in what used to a be fairly small north Georgia town.  Most of the memories center on life prior to the 1990s, a decade in which a population explosion changed the physical and cultural landscape of the community in many ways.

As I am browsing through the posts this evening, I can’t help but wonder what libraries and educators could take away from this kind of phenomenon of crowdsourcing collective memories; I’m intrigued what an ethnographer might also be able to take away from this collective narrative as well as individual narratives that are shared in this public space.

  • How can libraries and educators harness the power of social media to help people build a rich narrative?
  • Whose voices seem included and what groups might be absent from the conversation–and what might that in and of itself tell us about the culture of the community?
  • What can we learn from the stories that are shared in a medium like this and how could this be a medium for multiple voices telling the history, the story of a shared place?
  • Could we view this Facebook group as an alternative or emerging form of text?
  • What can we take away from this kind of narrative to inform our understanding of digital storytelling and digital composition?
  • Is Facebook a medium for curation, and if so, what are the benefits as well as challenges for using it as a curation medium?  How might libraries weave narratives from a group like this into a larger digital text using a tool like Storify?
  • What qualities engage and compel people to contribute to this conversation?  I saw numerous comments along the lines of, “This is fun!  I could do this all night!” or remarks about the number of hours people were devoting to sharing and reading the posts and comments in the group.   Clearly, people are experiencing flow in this learning and shared story space–how can libraries and educators tap into the power of shared storytelling and construction of local history/memory?
  • How is this group functioning as a site of participatory culture?
  • Do groups like this encourage people to use social media who may be reluctant to join a social network or who may not feel a sense of agency or desire to participate in social networking?
  • What motivates people to establish and engage in sustained participation in groups like these?

Connect, Create, and Collaborate with Skype

“Nobody, but Nobody Can Make It Out Here Alone”

~Maya Angelou~

One of my favorite new ways of connecting with friends and colleagues over the last six months is Skype. While you may not be able to engage in face to face conversations with your fellow librarian friends on a regular basis, Skype can close the distance and allow you to brainstorm, dream, laugh, and problem solve across the miles.    While I may be a technogeek, it never ceases to boggle my mind that I can talk in real time with my cherished colleagues via my computer or iPhone.   My regular Skype conversations with dear friends and librarian change agents like Michelle and Elisabeth, who live on the opposite coast of me and are thousands of miles away,  inspire me personally and professionally.

If you haven’t tried Skype, consider how you can use it to connect, create, and collaborate with your librarian friends across the miles.   Many thanks to other librarian friends like Justin Hoenke, Polly Farrington, Andy Woodworth, Brian Hulsey, Joyce Valenza,  and Peter Bromberg as well as teacher extraordinaire Wendy Drexler who have shared a little corner of their day or evening to listen, reflect, dream, and debate with me via Skype.

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21 Things for 21st Century Teens: What Would You Include?

http://www.darienlibrary.org/2010/01/11/21-things-21st-century-parents

21 Things for 21st Century Parents | DarienLibrary.org via kwout

The Darien Library’s awesome new 21 Things for 21st Century Parents has me thinking about designing a 21 Things for 21st Century Teens that could be offered before or after school, one evening a week, and/or during summer hours.     Right now I am thinking about topics and tools related to digital footprints/digital citizenship, cloud computing, mobile computing, and tools for creating content.   What would you include in a program like this?

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Teen Content Creators: Can We Please Ask Them to Do More Than Take Notes and Write Single Paragraphs?

According to the  Pew Internet and American Life Project Teen Content Creators report, the most common form of writing in school is taking notes in class.   Don’t get me wrong–taking notes is a valuable skill to support learning, but it bothers me that this is the dominant form of writing on a daily basis for teens.  If you look at slide eight in the presentation, other forms of writing are identified, including essays, shorter forms of writing, lab reports, creative writing, multimedia, journal writing, notes/letters to others, computer programs, and music/lyrics.

For the last five months, I have been thinking much more about an emphasis on content creation in my library.  In reflecting on the implications  of this report (I encourage you to look at the full report/presentation), these are my initial question:

  • how we can as librarians help support and expand the possibilities for  the traditional forms of writing teens are required to create in school?
  • What kinds of experiences can we provide for them through collaborative projects with teachers as well as independently driven, library initiated learning experiences to nurture, legitimize, and publish other forms of writing?
  • How can we apply the findings of this report to our instructional design in our library programs and our collaboration efforts with classroom teachers?
  • How do these findings inform my efforts to take an inquiry stance on information literacy and to posit transliteracy an essential literacy?

While I feel I have made some forward strides in applying these ideas to my work with my Media 21 project, I know I will be thinking more deeply about these questions and ways to better support and more actively publish multiple and varied forms of content creation from students.

You can view all the reports and research related to teens from the Pew Internet and American Life Project by visiting this portal.  Video and program information from The Power of Youth Voice:  What Kids Learn When They Create With Digital Media, the forum where this report and other related research were shared on November 18, 2009, can be found by visiting this site.

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