Friday, October 30, 2009

Netspeed 2009: Big Worlds & New Literacies

A number of Chinook Arch staff attended the Netspeed 2009 Conference last week in Calgary.  The aim of the Netspeed conference, hosted by The Alberta Library, is "Connecting libraries to cutting-edge technologies".  Among the keynote speakers was Margaret Mackey, Professor in the School of Library and Information Studies, at the University of Alberta. 

Margaret's talk was on "Big Worlds and & New Literacies".  The talk discussed the idea of the "Big World" - an information universe that doesn't stop at the borders of a single text.  Examples of Big Worlds include a series of books or films, a field of study, a text with a variety of spin offs, or a text that has been opened up by fan responses.  The idea is that the reader does not want the story to end at the end of the book.  They look for other ways to engage with the story, and there are MANY examples of how readers are participating in Big World reading.

Margaret identified 4 qualities of digiital world texts:
  1. Porousness - reading and writing, speaking and listening are no longer separate activities.  Texting is a good example of this.  It has both characteristics of writing and speaking.  Facebook is another example. 
  2. Hybridity - the resulting texts of the types of activities that are described above.  Cathy's Book by Sean Stewart is a good example.  A fictional story that includes real web addresses, phone numbers and more.  Readers can actually call Cathy's voicemail.
  3. Slipperiness - stories that are created to mutate.  For examples, stories created by a group of people, such as multi-player online role-playing games.  Another example is the Penguin wiki novel - a project called A Million Penguins in which a web space has been created where anyone can contribute to the writing of a novel and anyone can edit anyone else's writing.
  4. Unfinished - the story is never really over; the limits to what constitutes a story proper are not clear anymore.  A good example of this is fan fiction, where fans don't want to see the story end so they create endless ongoing stories for their favorite characters and settings.
Margaret ended her talk by asking what this means for libraries.  She did not attempt to give us the answers, but instead encourages librarians to think about what role we might play for Big World readers (an ever increasing population). 

We loved Margaret's talk so much that we immediately invited her to present at the Southern Alberta Library Conference.  It is people like Margaret who force us to think a little bit "outside the box" and encourage the unique and innovative services that libraries provide.  We look forward to Margaret's participation in our conference as we feel this topic fits well with our theme Libraries: Where the Wild Things Are.

(Posted by Terra)

No comments:

Post a Comment