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World Summit on the Information Society [Dec. 5th, 2005|10:34 am]
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So, my uncle is an economist and he arrived back from the World Summit on the Information Society just before Thanksgiving. After dinner (and a number of glasses of wine) I gently questioned him about the Information Society Summit that I, as an information professional, had no idea about and had heard no buzz about in library circles. Reading between the lines about his trip and experiences in exotic, but not particularly welcoming, Tunis... I concluded that this is the same work that we, as librarians, do. And I was feeling at once resentful that we hadn't been invited and annoyed that we hadn't invited ourselves (this poses an interesting parallel to holidays with my family in general, but this is not the time nor the place). I'm not naive; probably there were a few librarians present, but why weren't they talking about it? Making sure those on the front lines knew about it? Why aren't we participating in this community on an international level? THAT my friends, is how we're going to stay current and relevant in a real way - not wringing our hands about Google Book or Scholar and anything Google-ish. Playing private-sector catch up with blogs, flickr, and wikis (oh my) will help, but he idea of social software is to participate in and facilitate community, well, in the information age OUR community is a global one - we're the users here and we have to demand inclusion. My real fear? The economists, lobbyists, and what have you are making these big decisions for us and the world is missing out on a perspective that we might provide.

As an interesting footnote, after Thanksgiving (and my chemical-high fiery-ness) had worn off, my outrage faded into christmas cookies and getting my work done (this, I suspect, is the culprit on a large-scale). It was Casey, my very favorite non-MLS (maybe luckily for him), library visionary, who reminded me, not directly, but by mentioning the much-touted $100 laptop. Like him, I clicked over to watch Andy Carvin's mini-mentory (look mom, I can buzz-word, too) and discovered it was created for the Summit. I think this is an illustration of our professional tendency to pay attention to things when they're already a force; a product, a trend, an initiative, an act. We need to get in on the ground floor. If we, as a profession, are going to participate in this 'information age' we're going to have to get our heads out of the sand.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ams16
2005-12-05 05:05 pm (UTC)

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I agree totally. I think that's why I'm a part of ASIS&T.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-12-11 01:37 pm (UTC)

my video, "invitations" to Tunis

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Thanks for plugging my video - I really appreciate it. Regarding librarians at the summit, there were hundreds of librarians there, part of the 8000+ strong civil society delegation (ie, people not affiliated with govts, UN agencies or the private sector). IFLA had a conference in Egypt just before the summit, and much of the delegation stayed in North Africa for the summit. IFLA and regional library associations also hosted side-events at the summit, thoug I don't believe the ALA did.

The catch, though, is that very few of them were from the US. There was a strong international library presence, but little American presence. I think it's more of a sign of US apathy to the summit. There wasn't an invite list - anyone could go as long as they registered their organization early enough - so it was a matter of having the resources to go and knowing about it. Most Americans knew nothing about the summit, because it was generally ignored by both the press and the White House, even though it was treated as a major policy event by much of the world.
[User Picture]From: catablog
2005-12-15 01:28 pm (UTC)

Re: my video, "invitations" to Tunis

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Thanks for this - I appreciate that there were librarians there although it's a bitter pill to swallow, "Yes, there were librarians, but not from the states." This brings up a whole other issue about the US's reluctance, nay dismissal of international events. I stand my ground, though, that we are information professionals and perhaps we, as a profession, should be making a bit more of an effort to show about such events. I'm not, by the way, excluding myself...