Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something New?? Really?

Everything old is new again! The opening keynote speaker at this past week's Internet Librarian West conference talked about change...rapid change. Of course she did. Change is always the driving force at gatherings where technology is the topic. She gave statistics that illustrate the dizzying rate at which information is proliferating. It was a little daunting. She went on to warn that civilizations don't fall for usual reasons that we learned about in  school. Instead she cautioned that too much progress in a very short  time can cause all traditions of a society to be deemed less relevant, thus leading to downfall. The trick is to cull out the trivial, irrelevant, and just plain poop. Well, librarians are good at that. So maybe we can be the ones to save our civilization! We are trying...I can attest to that!

In the course of her speech, she made a couple of other statements that stuck with me. Did you know that the word sticky has a whole new range of meanings now? Several conference speakers referred to sticky facts or sticky information. There are even some apps using the word this way, starting with good old sticky notes. I guess time will tell whether the new connotation sticks around. Anyway two points she made stuck with me:
1. The power of one person should not be underestimated (this was yesterday's blog topic)
2. Second, and this is a direct quote: STORY is the new killer app.

STORY IS NOT NEW and hearing it is still important resonated with me. My Grandmother Fitzgerald raised seven kids and launched a passel of grandkids, all who loved her stories. She was a raconteur of the highest order. She could turn an everyday event into a comic extravaganza. She was good at true (though mightily embellished) stories and also strictly made-up ones. I now have her sewing rocker, the one that she used to tell us kids was a vehicle that enabled her in her dreams to travel all over the world. All it would take to get us settled down was for her to say, "I had another dream about my rocking chair last night."

Librarians, parents, teachers, songwriters and authors are the keepers of stories. We are the ones who make sure stories live on and new ones come along to enthrall listeners. The Internet just gives us new venues for them: ebooks, YouTube, VoiceThread, blogs, wikis, and all the other wonderful new tools. So long live stories! I don't think they are in trouble in our country. And that gives me hope in a scary world on this day after Halloween.

POST SCRIPT:  I have said this before but if you get a chance, do attend an Information Today conference. The ones I attend are Internet Librarian and Inteernet@School West. Both are top notch, and they come around twice a year--every fall in Monterey, CA and every spring in Washington DC. So you get a great destination as well as a fantastic conference. Oh and of course my buddy Nancy Pearl went along. I am sharing a picture of her enjoying the coast. She insists on wearing the SHSU spirit sticker that she got at a tailgate party just before the trip.

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