Sunday, December 13, 2009

...and thereafter our tools shape us

The internet sometimes seems like a hot medium pretending to be a cool one. If you use Google and Wikipedia to the exclusion of other tools your bain will be living in the crust of the internet and rarely penetrating to the stuff down below. Not only that but, in the case of Google, you will essentially be hardening and reinforcing that crust just by using it. (Use solidifies page rangk which increases use.)

There are, of course, drill-down tools.
But somebody is going to have to know how to use them. Google and Wikipedia have succeeded -- despite being slightly blunt and very general tools -- into everybody's tools of choice for anything. It as if people decided to use a Swiss Army knife for all home repairs.

You know who I think will be important? Librarians. If they can be more like this guy. The thing is, a lot of them are. Librarians had to learn the 'net early. Searchability and storage are kind of second nature to them.

The crossroads, for users of the digital media, has to do with intention vs. passivity. If you can act with intention when you look for information, you use the internet. If you put yourselves in the hands of google, the net uses you.

It's the same crossroads for social media, and my (somewhat hopeful) guess is that some people will leve Facebook and build social media sites that they truly control. This could happen at a place like Trinity. It could also happen in a community of creators and users, whether it's the arts community in Hartford or people who practice yoga in the Midwest or people who are really interested in mass transit. Build the system and make laws while you do. It's not that far from what we did the night we made up

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