Educating X and Y

So, I followed the link posted by lo-fi librarian a few days ago, and looking at that chart, at first I was surprised by the low takeup of my generation (yup, I’m a Gen Xer too, though I’ve yet to read the book), and then, thinking about my own experiences, began to think that perhaps it’s not so surprising really.

After all, who’s teaching us?
I feel like the generation that was overlooked.

For example, typing skills when I was at school were something you learned if you weren’t going to go to University, and instead were going to have to go out and get a ‘proper’ job when you left school. So I was never taught to type, as it was regarded as a ‘menial’ skill, not for us Uni-destined types. Yet within the timescale I was at Uni, it went from being acceptable to submit handwritten work, to it only being acceptable to submit in 12 point type, with 1.5 line spacing to allow space for comments! When was I meant to have learned how to wordprocess? As a result, I’m a 2/3 fingered typist, rapidly developing RSI, and wondering when I can spare the time to totally relearn how to type. And wondering if I CAN relearn how to type…

Then, for my postgrad qualification, I found I was expected to be able to give presentations and effectively use Powerpoint. Where was I meant to have learned about that? Another ‘ from new to essential’ development within 3 – 4 years!

So, if I’m just expected to ‘know’ how all these programmes and tools work (and yes, I know most workplaces will provide training in these skills now, but at the point when I was learning them, unis weren’t really great on training you on things they they often didn’t fully understand themselves yet!), am I soon also going to be expected to know about social media and Web 2.0 technologies? Where am I meant to be learning about these? If I wasn’t reasonably interested in these topics, and didn’t enjoy hunting out information (is that a librarian personality requirement?) how would I find out about them? How does information on these things get through to the average person of my age?

It would be very easy to know very little about what’s going on, if you’re not technically or information-finding inclined. Why would you know what a wiki is? Wouldn’t Wikipedia just be an interesting name, without a reason for the ‘wiki’ part? Wouldn’t blogs just sound like boring diaries, instead of a new style of journalism and professional contact?

How does information on technical developments get through to the majority?

Maybe it’s time for a pop quiz on some friends…the ones who aren’t really active online, find out what they know about, and why they know what they know…hmmm….

Do you Facebook?

The answer in my case is…no. And it’s been a deliberate decision (under regular review) not to join it, despite regular requests from various friends. I use (with varying frequency) My Space, Bebo…I blog, I email, I wiki, I forum. I like to be in touch and aware of what’s going on in the world. I don’t, however, have an incredible compulsion to be constantly connected to my friends 24 hours a day, so, although I joined up to find out more about it, I can categorically state that I will never Twitter (unless someone can give me a better reason than “you can tell people who don’t care enough to speak to you in person everything you’re doing throughout the day, in response to a totally inane question about what you’re doing”). I also have a limit on the amount of times I really need to see the same people duplicated in my network of friends in different sites.

It started with MySpace, which I joined in a spirit of investigation and fun in February 2006, when it was filling the news headlines. I also joined Bebo at that point, and promptly forgot about it, until it was suggested by a workmate in March this year that I join, only to discover I already had! At that point MySpace was new, exciting and fun. I made friends, and more. Then Bebo became the Next Big Thing…now it’s Facebook. It’s turning into a pattern of social network hopping…How ‘cool’ you are is reflected by which networks you’re on…MySpace is SOOOO last year…Bebo’s trendy, but fading…now it’s Facebook, only opened to non-university students since September 2006.

But…I don’t WANT to Facebook! I’m one of those bizarre people that believes time is the most important thing you possess, and when you give it away you’ll never get it back. Do I really want to give my time to yet another social networking site, to see the same people doing the same things as they do on the other sites?

No.

I want to appreciate my real friends, the ones I take the time out to write letters to, even though an email’s faster. Yes, these sites are good for me to quickly update myself on how friends I don’t see often are doing, but it’s not exactly socialising with them, really. Is it?

But…could these sites help me in my work? Do I want to join library and law groups on Facebook (which I believe exist, including an IWR group), or is it more efficient to just continue reading the blogs that interest me?

I’m not yet in information overload, but would professional networking on social networks tip the balance?

Google again

Honestly, I’m not obsessive, really, they just seem to be pretty active just now!
Google have opened up their internal blog on their public policies, to allow users to see what their views are on various important areas such as privacy, content regulation etc.
Which is pretty interesting, but I’ve got to say, I’m not sure I entirely trust any organisation when they say ‘look how honest and open we’re being’…probably cos I know there are very, very few of them who will be!
But it’s a pretty good attempt to make more transparent the internal workings of a section of a massive corporation.

What does the Web look like?

I use it every day, for work and for pleasure, it’s become an essential part of my daily life ….but what does it look like?

Well, according to researchers at Tel-Aviv University in Israel, it looks like…that.

Prettier than I expected, it looks like the first seconds after the Big Bang! Wonder which dot is Earth… 😉

Link from Popular Science Blog, the link to the original research paper it’s taken from isn’t working just now.