Thursday, February 08, 2007

Leapfrogging social networking

Librarians are exercised these days about social networking sites and whether to jump on this trend (fad?), just watch it roll by and wait for the next wave, or whether it is even relevant to libraries at all.

We even have a couple of staff people in the Olin Library working on this issue. I am looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

So I was interested to see this piece in Wired (Feb 2007) about MTV's attempt to leapfrog social networking sites like Second Life, MySpace, Facebook, etc. with a site called Virtual Laguna Beach.

"With its headlong leap into virtual worlds, MTV hopes to forge MySpace 2.0—and find its way back to the cutting edge. “It’s like the moment you went from listening to music to watching it,” Bostwick says. “Now we’re taking it from watching the show to actually becoming the show.”"

If library users are listening or watching the show -- passively searching and reading documents, what would it mean for them to "become the show"? I am not suggesting we should try and compete with Laguna Beach, but is there a connection here to the undergraduate research movement and the concept of institutional repositories? Will students not only be consuming information in (I use the preposition loosely) libraries, but also creating it? Of course, they always have, but will it be shared more widely (no longer just between student and professor) and stored more permanently?

As they say in my country, "I dunno."

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