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CIL2010: Lee Rainie from the Pew Internet & American Life Project

Rainie’s opening keynote covered a huge statistical dump of Pew’s recent findings. The web is huge, and mobile devices are a big part of why it’s expanding.

  • 62% of adults have broadband at home
  • 75% use internet
  • 80% own a cell phone
  • 53% connect wirelessly to the internet
  • more than 2/3 use the cloud
  • 48% of adults own laptops
  • 37% own DVRs
  • 43% own mp3 players
  • 37% own gaming consoles
  • 18% own personal gaming devices

Among those who do not use the web (a full 20% of Americans – !!!) are older adults, people with disabilities, and non-English speakers. Oftentimes, Raine says, people who do not use the web regularly are fearful of the technical and social threats on the web (internet predators, hackers, etc.).

The use of social networks and sharing technologies is still going strong, despite all the rumors of Facebook’s demise (or people giving it up for Lent, Raine says).

  • 57% of internet users are social network users
  • 37% share photos
  • 30% share personal creations (film, artwork, writing)
  • 30% contribute rankings and ratings
  • 28% create tags or other taxonomies
  • 26% post comments on sites and blogs
  • 19% use Twitter or other status update features
  • 15% have a personal website
  • 15% remix content
  • 14% are bloggers (Raine believes this # is higher because blogs aren’t identifiable as a separate web format anymore)

Raine recommends Manuel Castells’s book The Internet Galaxy. There are different online cultures:

  1. The Techno-elites: identified by openness, peer review, a meritocracy of the web,
  2. The Hackers: identified by the belief in the freedom to create, appropriate knowledge, and redistribute knowledge through different forms and channels
  3. Virtual Communitarians: identified by a belief in horizontal free communication, the primacy of self-directing networks
  4. Entrepreneur: investors, people pushing the front lines to develop a business model
  5. Networked Creators: democratized the voices in media, challenging traditional media gatekeepers,inserting themselves in what were previously considered to be “expert” affairs, and enhancing their civic and community roles (37% of internet users contributed to news stories, 20% contributed to health content, and 19% contributed to civic and political activities)

The people who produce content online helps them expand their social network and increase their social standing. People who have chosen to read what a creator has written creates connections that were not there before. Creating content can assist in getting exposure and experience that can help you get a job or get into school. People who are online content creators have learned — largely through getting criticized and flamed by the “literal net” people out there.

They produce content to create “social posses” to solve problems or address needs. Raine cited an example of a gentleman who had some bumpers off of his car stolen. Through looking at online photos, all of these people online were able to identify a local suspect. That person defended himself quite poorly online and drew more attention to himself. They saw that he was selling auto parts on eBay and other sites. They used Google Maps, online photos, and went to his house and after his mother and grandmother to get more information. They put up a petition to have him arrested by local police and although he was not arrested yet, the number of auto thefts of the type he was accused of has dropped of dramatically. The wisdom of possess allow people to say, with authority, “we will fact check the hell out of you.”

People produce content to construct the “just in time and just like me” support groups. A librarian found that she had a rare form of lung cancer and found a support group online with similar people. When she heard she was a candidate of a rare form of treatment, she asked for help from her group. They gave her experiences, advice, and she later built an extensive site dedicated to lung cancer resources and research. These communities matter to people and are space-neutral; they can speak directly to people in their circumstances. (Sarah’s note: I can attest to this. In the months since my post about my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I have received hundreds of comments, emails, texts, and Tweets from others with this illness, mothers looking for advice for their EDS-suffering children, a lot of newly diagnosed patients, and many, many people who are just like me and simply wanted to know they were not alone).

People use the social media sphere as “the 5th estate.” Only about 30% of stories that were covered in traditional media were also covered in blogging or social media. For this reason, social media has become a new place with new people with different priorities (self-selected too, not chosen by a media entity). Techies are absolutely over-represented in the social spaces. Links have become the social currency of the web, not long stories, links. Off-beat stories with quirky humor get more attention than traditionally written stories.

So what does this mean for libraries? Libraries can be a node in people’s social networks as they seek information t o help them solve problems and me their needs. It’s important for libraries to be in that space. Libraries can be the expert curator, navigator, and helper in that space. Libraries can teach new literacies: screen literacy (graphics and symbols), navigation literacy, connections and context literacy, skepticism, value of contemplative time, how to crete content, and ethical behavior in this online world..

CIL2010, computers in libraries

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