#uklibchat: Digital Libraries

Oh, the power of social media! I distinctly remember reading an article on the new role of social media in learning, especially for young people – calling them (us?) Google Generation, Digital Natives or Net Generation doesn’t make much sense anymore I guess. This kind of learning has multiple advantages, not only a degree of mutual trust between peers, but also tearing down walls that can (and will) be created in a learning environment where the power between pupil and teacher is not balanced.

I’m not saying that there should be no teachers and that discipline is a completely unjustifiable concept in education – I myself have experienced the benefits of discipline on an unorganized mind. However, I relate with all the hesitations of approaching teachers, of expressing thoughts and opinions when you know what’s at stake (namely, your curriculum, if you give a damn about it anyways). So, unstructured learning through social media can be quite interesting – and it also reminds me of the whole “noble savage” theory and how being uncorrupted by moral/social customs can have an impact on human beings.

But back to tonight’s chat!

First and foremost, what’s this all about? #uklibchat is a monthly gathering of LIS professionals ad student, who twit on a chosen topic. An agenda is made available, with questions to be answered and discussed – and which usually spawn even more questions and discussions. In short, two hours of pure LIS bliss.

The topic tonight was Digital Libraries, and I must say I could have definitely used this chat a couple of weeks ago for an assignment – if only for some very interesting ideas to slam among my random blabbering about.  The topic of crowd cataloging came up and most people seem to agree on the complete lack of control that is typical of the Internet – well, I am contributing to the collective hoarding of data even right now! I’d really like to see the day when a system to catalog web content properly will come up, more than properly I should probably say “universally” or “uniformly”, in a way that will be intelligible also for people who do not reside in our minds. Which might be quite uncomfortable in my case.

This overwhelming and undiscriminated creation of information brought the discussion on the problem of quality, and how to guide users to good quality resources. I can’t say I am that much of an enemy of Wikipedia, though, yes I am aware of its heinous lack of double-triple-quadruple checking on everything, and yes, I know that I should be happy that updating encyclopedias is that painstakingly slow, because we all know that haste makes waste. But seriously, can there be anything more powerful than reading or watching the news and seeing entries being updates literally before your eyes? I’ll never quote Wikipedia in an academic assignment, of course, just like I’ll probably go to a proper doctor instead of googlosing (or diagnoogling?) myself obscure tropical diseases and then seeking help on WebMD. As always, the happy medium is the key – I’ll use the Encyclopedia Britannica for essays and school work, but nothing will ever make me stop looking up stuff on Wikipedia and that following links to infinity and beyond!

After two or three hours it becomes more like this though.

I can’t see how I got from Percy Shelley’s biography to the Japanese national anthem

Also, Wikipedia has been mentioned in relation to promoting digital collections, but I must do some additional research on the topic – not really clear what was meant there, I can’t begin to express how I much hate Twitter’s 140 characters limit!! Even the most articulate, intelligent thought is turned into a dumb SMS thanks to that.

RDA was another point brought up in relation to cataloging – can’t say I contributed much, since my experience with RDA sums up to not two hours in the Uni lab.

Anyhoo, next month is going to be superinteresting – but I must remember to do some reading (on reading) before that, I did have something still rattling about in my head from the LTS assignment after all.