Skip to main content

E-Learning and Digital Cultures - Week 2

This week we stuck with the thoughts of utopias/dystopias, but turned our focus toward the future. One of the articles we read this week discussed the metaphors used to describe the internet in the media. I knew we used metaphors to describe the internet, but I was surprised at how prevalent this practice was once I saw a sampling of them all laid out.

Not surprisingly, many metaphors focused around the internet either as creator or destructor. I was a little surprised, though, to see how prevalent the "internet as physical place" metaphor still is. I know social networks and "meeting" with people online is all the rage now (I am taking a class that meets solely online), but I didn't think about how that's tied back to the earlier days of the internet when people really struggled to understand what the world wide web was and there were tons of representations of it as a physical space, even a Saturday morning cartoon based on the premise that the web was a real physical place.

But the thing I really wanted to talk about was the process of even deciding what metaphors to use to describe the internet, or really any new kind of technology. As with many things in librarianship today, I'm really trying to bring this back around to ebooks. We're still wrestling with the best way to deal with this increasingly popular format, and I can't help but think that part of the problem is that we're all using different metaphors to describe them. Should we treat them like print books or like digital files, or something else?

Earlier on it seemed like publishers wanted to treat them like physical books - libraries could only lend out one copy of an ebook file at a time, unless they'd paid for multiple copies. Librarians pointed out that that was silly since an ebook is a digital file and it's pretty easy to make as many copies of a digital file as you need ... if it weren't for that pesky DRM.

Then publishers realized that they could make even more money if they were only licensing ebooks to libraries, meaning they could pull their titles from a library when that library decided to stop paying for their service (or really, whenever they wanted to). Librarians pointed out that vendors don't get to pull the books libraries buy from them off their shelves when the libraries decide to go with another vendor. Now publishers cried that ebooks are like databases. They switched what metaphor they were using and librarians cried foul.

Now, however, it doesn't seem that anyone believes ebooks are going to be treated exactly like physical books. The problem now is that nobody can agree on exactly which model we should be using. How are librarians to know best way to provide ebook value for their patrons? Do they go for a vendor that provides a wider range of bestsellers or one that may not have a lot of authors you've heard of before, but uses a business model that holds more hope for the future of library ebook lending? Is there some sort of magical middle ground?

So while we'll always use metaphors to describe the technology in our lives, sometimes those metaphors can be limiting, and when we can't even agree on the metaphors we're using, it's no wonder people get confused about the role of technology in our lives.

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

2018 Reading Resolutions

As usual I'll be attempting to read 100 books in 2018.

Total Books Read: 49 of 100

I'm also going to valiantly try to read 20 books I own and get through the backlog on my bookcase. It would really help if I didn't do so much of my reading on audio (nearly all of which are borrowed at work) or get distracted when I'm looking for my next print read by all the pretty books at work.

Books I Own: 2 of 20
Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl by Carol BodensteinerSay No to the Bro by Kat Helgeson
I'm also adjusting my series finishing goal this year. Life is too short to spend finishing series I only feel meh about, so finishing 5 series this year is plenty.

Series Finished/Caught Up: 6 of 10
The War That Saved My Life Series by Kimberly Brubaker BradleySix of Crows Series by Leigh BardugoA Narwhal and Jelly Book Series by Ben ClantonHis Fair Assassin Series by Robin LaFevers (next book expected in 2019)A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas (next bo…

This Year's Reflections on Banned Books Week

... or as I think I'm going to start calling it, Librarian Christmas, the most hyped (by librarians) library holiday of the year. I've been dutifully wearing my "i read banned books" bracelet all week and awaiting patron questions about our banned books displays.

I've written in past years about how I'm sort of over Banned Books Week, but I keep getting pulled back in when I hear about some of the ridiculous books people are trying to ban. This year's is one I just read for the first time this summer, Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya. Apparently it was considerate too graphic and inappropriate for a high school audience. Interesting, considering the story's narrator is in elementary school. Basically, it has the usual collection of difficult to discuss ideas: violence, death, questioning faith in God, a child's confusion about how adult sexual relationships work, but since it's all told from the point of view of a 6-year-old, it's not ter…

Finding Reliable Health Information Online

While going through an old blog of mine, I found this summary of a presentation I gave in late 2006 on finding reliable health information online. Surprisingly most of it is at least somewhat relevant today. Since I'm trying to relive the days when I used to research medical information for a living, this wasn't a bad way to jog my memory.
Finding Reliable Health Information Online
MedlinePlus: This site is put together by the National Library of Medicine (NLM) as a comprehensive consumer health resource. It is relatively easy to use and requires little or no knowledge of medical terminology. Use it like a search engine and simply type your term into the search box, or explore one of MedlinePlus’ specific resources, including drug information, dictionary, and medical encyclopedia.
Quackwatch: A great site for checking out “too good to be true” medical claims. This non-profit corporation is dedicated to combating “health-related frauds, myths, fads, fallacies…