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I answered a short questionnaire the other day on libraries and technology. I found myself wanting to rewrite some of the questions to avoid the sense they gave of technology as an external agent acting on libraries. Libraries are co-evolving with people’s behaviors which are themselves being reconfigured in a network environment. Technology is not external. I was interested to read this general piece about the emergence of the web by Fintan O’Toole this morning in the Irish Times:
Yet all of these contradictions point to the ultimate power of this creation: its uncanny ability to mirror humanity. Unlike all previous new technologies, it is not a set of tools outside of ourselves. The web meshes machines and people more completely than any previous technology and its contradictions are ours. It is our unjust societies that maintain the digital divide as a new global class system, our capacity for generosity that created the collectivist not-for-profit ethic of the web, our greed that is making it increasingly subject to corporate takeovers, our desire for connection that drives its curiosity, our damaged minds that generate its dangers. It is, virtually, the way we are. [ireland.com – In Focus – Virtual Ireland]
Incidentally, I quoted extensively from a marvelous piece on public libraries by Fintan O’Toole a while ago, “Reading, writing and rebelling: growing up with public libraries”.