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Opening Internet Librarian Keynote: John Seely Brown

October 17, 2011

Happy Monday, dear readers! I’m super-excited for the start of Internet Librarian 2011 although due to wrist injuries, I probably won’t be blogging every session I attend. However, let’s get started with the keynote by John Seely Brown. Also, you can check out all the bloggers at the conference here: Bloggers at IL 2011.

A couple of cool notes: This is the 15th Internet Librarian conference. Over 1,000 people have pre-registered for this conference! Yay! (I love that that this conference is in Monterey. That probably helps for the turnout!) Lots of first-time Internet Librarian conference attendees this year.

Entrepreneurial learner: people who are constantly willing to learn new things. How do we cultivate this spirit in people, especially students, today?

We are at a cusp, a huge axis of change. In the past, had changes (like steam-power) and large time periods of stability. Digital age is an exponential curve, with little stability and a lot of change. The skills, social practices, and institutions evolve around technological infrastructures. You need time to evolve, but today we dont’ have the luxury of time and stability.

Half-life of a given skill has shrunk to about five years. (That’s both terrifying and exhilarating.)

We need to become comfortable with the flow of change and help others with the changes (“a world of flows”). Moving from codified knowledge to tacit knowledge.

Need new kind of critical thinking and reasoning. Therefore librarians are more important than ever: this is definitely a good way to get in good with a conference of librarians. 🙂

Are we prepared? Are we preparing our students for this kind of world?

We need new dispositions. “Dispositions cannot be taught. They can only be cultivated.”

[Much of this reminds me of the shift from ACRL information literacy skills to Bruce’s conception of the Seven Faces of information literacy. Moving from skills and information to holistic ways of conceptualizing learning and thinking and being information literate.]

Three Dispositions of Entrepreneurial Learners

  • Disposition of curiosity
  • Disposition of Questing
  • Dispoistion of Connecting

You need all three aspects/dispositions in order to learn and make sense of learning in this new world. [Flavors of social constructionism in this viewpoint, which I quite like and agree with.]

For example, study groups are incredibly important for student success in college. Many are social learners and need the social interaction in order to be engaged and learn.

Content and context are changing and fluid. For example, social media changes context. We are in a participatory culture now.

We need to be comfortable with change and connecting and being able to change our minds and our understandings. [New book coming out: Too Big to Know by David Weinberg, suggested reading by Brown]

Argues for collectives for learning over social media (or a sense of belonging). Learning by the individual somehow then helps the collective. [I’m not sure I’m completely on board with that. Any type of mentoring only happens or is sustainable if both parties get something out of the exchange. Collectives might be created around interests, but they are sustained via community and sense of belonging.]

It’s all about “meaning creation.” You need content and context: both are changing rapidly and there are many different, individualized viewpoints. [Hello, postmodernism]

Need play. We have the freedom to fail. [Hello, beta testing.] Play is important for cultivating imagination. Play is an epiphany: solving a riddle. [Being less serious cultivates creativity. If you are too focused on the outcome or one way of thinking, you won’t be as creative or open to new ways of understanding and solving problems. Very much like Maker Culture. Go DIY!]

Takeaway
The social, the community, is very important in this fast-changing, digital world. It amazes me how much changes, how much stays the same. While there is so much change, digitally and technologically speaking, so much of human behavior and sociology stay the same. We are social creatures and if we leverage technology to help us connect and contribute to the conversation, obviously we will become better learners and thinkers. We are coming back full circle to the understanding that we need communities and connections to cultivating critical, complex, creative thinkers and beings. It’s about time. Communities for the win!

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