Thursday, March 20, 2008

Somewhat Derivative and Entirely Tenuous

I am a bit of a techie. I took to email in 1988 and wrote my first website in good ole html circa 1998. Now looking into Web 2.0 in 2008 simultaneous with a 2.0 outlook on my own life I have noticed a subconscious renewal of a sympathetic view of technology. I have revived my passion for what I call bibliodiversity and my thorough disdain, in equal measures, for those who either oversell technology or fear-monger misshapen luddite decrees. Fear not the machine, I think we'll agree.

This week I had the pleasure to recommend the excellent blog WhyMommy? on an open line show.

Yes. I have been an openline caller. -- eye roll.
And I am parent blogger -- double eye roll.

So shoot me. (But it was on CBC radio, so was I not somewhat dignified?)

The pointy bit
The topic was a new online resource for Breast Cancer Survivors from the Breast Cancer Foundation. When I made my comments I had a bit of an out-of-occupation experience. The panel and host were very interested in my comments about WhyMommy's blog, how it tells a story, where it educates, how it seemed a part of WhyMommy's healing and that it sustained a mixed audience of cancer patients and (for lack of a better word) civilians. Their Breast Cancer Map is collaborative but in-house capital 'P' Product. The host questioned if the sort of content the blog offered might someday be included in the Foundation resource.

Sigh. Why oh why -- must be always compete to include?

This is such a drone. A constant battery in the aging information age of the limitlessness of possibilities and the pedantic 'solutions'. Each technology vehicle must aspire to be all things to all people??? Well it can't.

As a librarian I have argued and debated the issues of the one true way for the the false idols of 'the Internet' and 'computers' and 'technology' for years ad nauseum. My response to these important experts was, roughly, as follows. "I am really thrilled to hear about this new resource. But I wouldn't expect it to do the sort of things that the blog does. I mean, I understand that the information that each item emits intersects but that is the limit. We really benefit from institutions generating one kind of online community and individuals generating another and the only work need be done is to draw the linkages. It would not seem important to me (read, it would seem detrimental) that institutes ever take responsibility for creating a setting for such personal dialogues."

In making these comments I was at once at ease and then suddenly uncomfortable with my own position. I realized quickly how far it went to a case of eating my words. You see it was a lightning bolt of dialogue liberties. Literally, for years I have preached the same philosophy about, again for lack of better words, "surviving technology. My philosophy = let's not reinvent the wheel. I have done this not fully appreciating a commitment it made to my own thinking and actions.

In this sad little information age we live in, that need still meet its own age of reason, we parrot the endlessness of possibilities and so often fail to create anything out of option paralysis. I think of Cancer Foundation IT staffers cringing at the thought of including 'social software' in their institutional communication tool. Ah, the liability of information delivery. How could we include this without any functions for fact checking? How would we choose who to include or exclude? It is truly a nightmare from the corporate view. We constantly have this problem in schools. But -- this is my paradigm shift -- but why should we care? If we really do nothing more than what I advocated -- nothing more than link maybe we will more fully embrace the tolerance for difference and disagreement the wealth of connectivity engenders. We might rise above the possibilities and acutally be productive!!!! I guess I rode along back in the debates last summer about brand affiliations online and did sneer. I thought of it only one way when really it has as many levels as the latest releases for Wii.

We can't, and shouldn't, care about every affiliation anymore. (this from a cataloguing librarian and media copyright specialist?) We can't read into the image of McDonalds Southwest Salad on the sidebar quite the same as we might a few years back. Don't we want to attempt the possibilities of linkages without arbitrating each one? To keep arbitration a requirement will only go to our continued desire for 'all the possibilities' and, as I've said, continue to obliterate actual creation. Even though it might not be for me I can't quite sneer the same way today I did yesterday.

I am glad to see the link for the WhyMommy blog near the Cancer Foundations' site on nothing more than my say so. What a crazy idea that defies my hitherto held standards of inclusion. Hypocrisy and I remain, I suppose, intimate strangers.

And there is my big egghead post for Easter. Or what my daughter, in a perfect metaphor, calls the Humpty-dumpty holiday; if that isn't an understatement and a half. My sweet Lord.

Signed, Stephen Fry

ps.. yes I could have edited that but come on, it's just the Internet.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mo-Wo, this was so cool. I had so much to say, and didn't comment right away. Now I've lost my train of thought, but I just want to say that this was cool. Thanks.

6:56 a.m.  

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