The internet has moved so quickly and enveloped us so completely it can be difficult to get our heads above the water and see exactly what we’re drowning in.
Luckily, you can find information about anything; carving whistles out of found wood your thing? Wanna talk openly and seriously about your relationship with your Synthetik wife? And, of course, you can find much about the web itself. Because the web is nothing if not self-reflective.
Our human nature drives us to systematize, and so the namers and thinkers have decided that we are currently using Web 2.0. Or is it Web 3.0? Or maybe it’s 4.0. Well, there’s some debate about that. But everybody can at least agree that we aren’t using that pathetic Web 1.0 anymore. Except for the parts of the web that still do.
Essentially, Web 2.0 is the ability to post, change, comment or in any other way easily interact on the web. It’s social media, blogging platforms, and podcasting tools that have all become so idiot friendly even I can use them. It is the space we’re in now where we all contribute to the content on the web.
This 3.0 business has to do with personnel devices, such as cell phones, that have made the web ubiquitous as well as easy. Though, like I said, there is much debate over whether this is a new phase of the web or a furthering of Web 2.0.
Does any of this matter? If you are like I was, a casual user with little online presence, then no, just keep doing what you’re doing. But, as a student learning to work in libraries, it is vital.
In the library context Web 2.0 has mostly been embraced, though with some hesitancy. Libraries may seem to move slow, but I prefer the word deliberate. They tend take a breath before jumping into a new technology, making sure that it is something that can be of benefit to their patrons.
But, as it is with all with technological advances, there are always side effects.
For example: One of the things that Web 2.0 has done is take away the need for physical presence. If you look at library’s YouTube channel you might find recordings of children’s songs (Hyperlink). Whereas in the past you might have had to bundle up your smelly and always slightly sticky progeny, now you can sing short, annoying songs from your own home.
Upside? More people might be singing those songs than might have otherwise. Side effect? What is lost by not getting all those kids together in one room, hearing their voices mix together, making faces at one another and laughing? I doubt that Libraries are ending their sing along times in favour of YouTube videos, but as people take the more convenient option, as tends to happen, the numbers will dwindle and those classes might close.
A broader side effect of the changes int he web is that people are reading like they never have before. Every second you are online you are reading; taking in and deciphering content. With the ubiquity of information web 2.0/3.0 has brought it has also brought a false confidence. People think themselves experts at finding and deciphering information. However, in the vast sea of information it is difficult to know if what they are finding is legitimate, or the most appropriate for their needs.
So, are Libraries the boats, throwing lifelines to swimmers? Are they the deep-sea divers, plunging into the depths, trying to see what is below the surface? Or are they there among the swimmers, dog paddling like the rest, just trying to keep their heads up? Libraries are all these things, and more.
Libraries need to do what they have always done: help readers read. This core function of a library has not changed, it just has a new paint job.