Infoskills for the Future – If You Can’t Handle Information, Get Out of the Library

On Wednesday, transport willing, I’ll be giving a short presentation at an East of England Imnformations Services Group event:

Whilst preparing the slides, I listened in to Martin Bean’s opening keynote from JISC2010, and was interested to hear what he had to say about libraries:

That is, folk are gonna need help with sensemaking around information and with identfiying trusted [trustable?] content.

I had intended to put together a talk about the challenges faced by the OU library, as I see them, as it starts to offer a comprehensive digital library service for our students; but the VC’s talk got me thinking again about some of the issues I touched on in my Arcadia brown bag lunch talk about the skills training gap that I think is building up around digital tools:

Anyway, here’s a preview of my slides for Wednesday (subject, as ever, to change…;-)

(UPDATE, post presentation: a couple of folk commented on the slide aesthetic – it’s inspired in part by the Presentation Zen approach (blog), in part by Lawrence Lessig. As far as the Digital Economy Bill/Act goes, here’s a summary. And for Doctorow on book ownership, listen here.)

The content diverges somewhat from the title (oops!) but I feel the need to have another crack at exploring what exactly are the skills I think we’re failing to articulate…

As ever, it’s rich in images that don’t make a lot of sense without my commentary. I also toyed with the idea of embedding a few audio and video clips in the presentation, but as time is tight, I think I’ll omit probably have to omit those on the day:-(

One of the clips I had thought of using was Martin Bean’s quote embedded above. Another was from a recent TEDxNYED talk by Jeff Jarvis (via @ajcann) in which he talks about the move educators – like journalists – may have to make towards a curatorial role.

For libraries, too, there is need to consider the new curatorial role of the library (e.g. as recently observed by Lorcan Dempsey: Lam-inating libraries…). But maybe more important is the help that librarians can give to academics, and researchers, who are building their own collections, and wanting to curate their own “exhibitions”?

(Just by the by, I’ve started putting together the images I use in my presentations in flickr galleries. In part, this means I have ready access from source to images I’ve used before if I want to use them again… I’m also toying with the idea of trying to annotate the images in the gallery with “presenter notes” or “presentation design notes” as a way of capturing some of the things I was thinking about/looking for as I was selecting the images. If I was doing an Art GCSE, I guess this would correspond to my notebook…)

One of the reasons I considered adding the audio clips to the presentation was because they were to hand and I heard things in them potentially relevant to, and reusable in, the presentation I was preparing. (The use of the clips would also slow the presentation down a little – something I’m looking for strategies to help me with. Fewer slides may help here, of course…!;-) To make (re) use of them, I wired the headphone out to the audio in on my laptop, and played through the relevant parts of the original videos whilst capturing the audio track using Audacity. A little bit of editing in that environment cropped the audio clip to just the bit I needed, and also allowed me to tidy it up a little (removing ums and ahs, for example). For hosting purposes, I’ve used Audioboo. I’m not sure this is really in the spirit of Audioboo, but again, it was a pragmatic choice;-) Now I haven’t received any training in this (as any audiophile will probably be able to tell you!) but it got the job sort of done…

So, is that a skill the library can – or should – help me with, if required? In the OU’s case, I think getting help with that sort of activity would fall under the Digilab remit.

At the very least, is/could/should it be the role of the library to help me develop effective strategies for discovering audio content (nothwithstanding what the VC had to say about moving on from search and discovery)? Discovering audio content from OER repositories, maybe?

And what about help or advice on producing visualisations, such as visualisation of volcanic ash data from official advisory notes? Would that count too? (That was a request typical of the ones I receive on a weekly basis from various parts of the OU…) I captured my hacked attempt at working through that problem in the post Steps Towards a Volcanic Ash Advisory Google Maps Mashup Using Met Office Data, which also includes several bad assumptions I made in the original version of the post, so maybe I should pick through that to identify some of the skills involved?

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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