Sunday, 6 April 2008

Can LAC walk Ian Wilson's talk?

Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Ian Wilson, presented "The State of Canadian Confederation: To Know Ourselves", The Extraordinary Symons Lecture in Toronto on February 28, 2008.

Find the text here.

It's a good read.

There is one section that stopped me short in light of a recent experience in the 3rd floor reading room at LAC. I asked about using a USB memory stick on one of their reader-printers rather than printing hardcopy. The answer was that it isn't permitted, even though some of the machines have that capability.

The passage in the Symons Lecture, which should be read in context, is: "The Web 2.0 generation has focused on relationships and on search strategies, not facts. Memory is external, on a cord around the neck."

At present at LAC that memory can only be hung around the neck, like a piece of cyberjewellery. Their practice suggests that LAC isn't seriously interested in serving the Web 2.0 generation?

There are issues with memory sticks, issues that other organizations appear to be managing. But as there are essentially no consumables involved with such memory not only is use essentially cost-free but it's more environmentally desirable.

So I wonder, can LAC learn to walk Ian Wilson's talk?

1 comment:

WJM said...

The web 2.0 comments are interesting.

Web 2.0 is about users generating, modifying, manipulating, and rebuilding content.

LAC 2.0 would encourage users to create research tools, would allow users to do that, would allow and encourage and provide the architecture for users to catalogue, describe, and digitize content.

It was done in the past: one of my best finds, ever, was a government document which consisted of an inventory that a government researcher had made, for legal research purposes, back in the 1920s, of 18th- and 19th-century CO records. That inventory is still a better research tool for those records than anything else in existence.

Users could be doing that, with modern technology, now. Just as Olaf Jenzen at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College is doing with the entire CO Newfoundland series, bit by bit.

Other users, scholars, researchers, could be doing things like that, and making them available on-site and on-line.

If we were allowed.

But the institution is so fixated on NOT ALLOWING you to do stuff — no, you can't copy that; no, you can't do that after hours; no, you can't use that USB stick, whatever that is; no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no — that this 2.0 talk would be funny if it wern't so sad.