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Libraries Meet the Second Machine Age

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Recording at
The closing keynote for the 2015 Library Technology Conference at St. Paul, MN at March 19, 2015. #LTC2015

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Libraries Meet the Second Machine Age

  1. 1. Bohyun Kim | @bohyunkim Slides: 2015 Library Technology Conference – Closing Keynote
  2. 2. What Is Technology to Us?
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  4. 4. Libraries as Tech Hubs Licensed by Creative Commons License in Flickr:
  5. 5. services/computing-at-the-library/google-glass/
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  12. 12. How Are Libraries Different?  Libraries advocate technology and innovation.  But so do many other institutions.  How are libraries different?
  13. 13. The Second Machine Age  This concept provides an important context for the role that information and technology play in our library patrons’ daily lives.
  14. 14. age/work_in_machine_age_february_2015_final.pdf Digital Revolution
  15. 15. Innovation
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  20. 20. Licensed by Creative Commons License in Flickr: Automation
  21. 21. The Second Machine Age Economic growth Productivity Wages Employment
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  23. 23. Economists Call It “the Second Machine Age” Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, Race Against the Machine: How the Digital Revolution Is Accelerating Innovation, Driving Productivity, and Irreversibly Transforming Employment and the Economy (Kindle Ebook, 2012). Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014).
  24. 24. Highly-skilled elites & the rest: employment and wage polarization (Tyler Cowen) Displacement effect of computerization Tyler Cowen, Average Is Over: Powering America Beyond the Age of the Great Stagnation (Penguin, 2013).
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  27. 27. Humans + Machines
  28. 28. Current Economic Trend  The optimal interplay between humans and machines has become the new drive of today’s economic growth. Business and industry call for more highly skilled workforce who can work well with smart machines, while eliminating jobs that can be fully automated by machines.  This thins out the middle class; diminishes the upward mobility; and increases the overall economic inequality.
  29. 29. Rising Inequality
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  31. 31. Implications for Libraries  There will be a greater room for libraries to grow and contribute towards job-related continuing education and lifelong learning.  Libraries will have to play even a greater role in bridging the gap between the haves and the have- nots in terms of making information and technology resources available as widely and evenly as possible.
  32. 32. Education  This trend may reverse. Some think that advances in artificial intelligence and broad technological development may create employment possibilities that we cannot yet begin to imagine.  But whichever way the future goes, one thing is clear. Education will be a key to the growth of employment opportunities and economic growth in the age of smart machines. Humans need to be able to work more efficiently, operating or working alongside with machines. And this requires more education.
  33. 33. age/work_in_machine_age_february_2015_final.pdf
  34. 34. The Goal of Education Licensed by Creative Commons License in Flickr:
  35. 35. Value of Higher Ed
  36. 36. Rise of Competency- Based Education
  37. 37. Students Ready for the Market  With its transdisciplinary competency-based bachelor’s degree, “businesses will not have to guess whether these students really are ready for the market, ready for their business, ready for the world.” - Mitch Daniels, Purdue’s president announcing the university’s transdisciplinary, competency-based bachelor’s degree. polytechnic-institute.html
  38. 38. Competency-based Education  Purdue University - Transdisciplinary, competency-based bachelor’s degree  Univ. of Michigan – Master’s of health professions education  Univ. of Wisconsin system – Five competency-based online credentials which range from a certificate to bachelor’s degrees.
  39. 39. Track & Measure with Technology  These competency-based education can potentially reduce the time and the cost of educational programs by utilizing learning analytics and other educational technology tools to track and measure students’ progress and skills obtained.  In this new climate of the labor market, learning never really ends because workers are expected to constantly renew their skills. They have no choice but to become self-directed lifelong learners to stay employed.
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  42. 42. Where Libraries Stand A. Where does a library stand when the greatest value of education is primarily found in obtaining successful employment? B. What is the role of a library when education is reduced to merely equipping students with the skills that will make them hirable?
  43. 43. Counter-argument  Overly pessimistic?  After all, don’t we champion more creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship than ever before in education and libraries?  Don’t the maker movement and makersapces, for example, demonstrate such things as creativity and innovation a great deal?
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  45. 45. america
  46. 46. Maker Movement : Democratization Licensed by Creative Commons License in Flickr:
  47. 47. to-see-to-enjoy-picture-books
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  51. 51. University of Maryland, Baltimore – School of Dentistry. Photo by the author.
  52. 52. Digital Dentistry University of Maryland, Baltimore – School of Dentistry. Photo by the author.
  53. 53. University of Maryland, Baltimore – School of Dentistry. Photo by the author.
  54. 54. How the Maker Movement Went Mainstream Neo-liberalism + Techno-utopianism + Demand for the adaptable workforce
  55. 55. Makers & Takers  Makers have access to new technology.  Makers can afford investing their free time and money in learning new technology.  Makers are already knowledgeable and tech-savvy enough to navigate this new technology scene and use it to their advantage.
  56. 56. Idealization of the Maker Movement  Makers as the heroes of the ultimate freedom.  Makers make things with their own hands, unlike the majority of those who simply consume things that are made by others.  With their creativity and technical knowledge, makers will not only innovate businesses, create more jobs, but also usher in more open and transparent society and culture for all of us to benefit.
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  58. 58. Issues with the Mainstream Maker Culture  Unduly emphasizes Individuals over systems and misplaces freedom where regulations are needed.  Unfairly treats labor as a hobby without pay.  Spreads the unsustainable expectation for workers to develop new skills outside of work. (In this scenario, workforce retooling becomes the responsibility of individual workers, not businesses.)
  59. 59. Ideologies at Work  Neo-liberalism ignores the issues of systematic inequality and reduces it to the matter of individual choices and effort.  The belief that technology can build a culture that is more transparent and open is techno-utopianism that tries to solve sociopolitical problems with technology alone without addressing the root cause.  Instead, all we hear about the maker culture is how productive and innovative makers are and we all must become like those (because they are the future of the new infinitely adaptable and flexible workforce that the labor market is looking for.).
  60. 60. Defining Characteristics of Our Era  Productivity  Efficiency  Positivity and affirmation  “Manage Yourself”
  61. 61. authorpreneurship
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  63. 63. Freedom to Exploit Ourselves Licensed by Creative Commons License in Flickr: :
  64. 64. Uber, Sharing Economy?
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  66. 66. chul-han-leadership-work-imf-crisis-economics/c7s16949/
  67. 67. Access to Sharing Economy  “Anyone without money doesn’t have access to sharing. Even in the age of access, people without money remain shut out. Airbnb, the community marketplace that turns homes into hotels, even saves on hospitality. The ideology of community or collaborative commons leads to total capitalization of the community. Aimless friendship is no longer possible. In a society of reciprocal evaluation, friendliness is also commercialized. One is friendly to get a better ranking online. The harsh logic of capitalism prevails in the so-called sharing economy, where, paradoxically, nobody is actually giving anything away voluntarily.” - Byyngchul Han, “Why Revolution Is Impossible: On The Seductive Power Of Neoliberalism,” Süddeutsche Zeitung, 2014. neoliberalism/byung-chul-han-leadership-work-imf-crisis-economics/c7s16949/
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  72. 72. Unsustainable solution to a systematic problem  While crowdsourced fund-raising such as these were well-meant by all means, it is an unsustainable solution to a systematic problem whose solution should not be found in personal donations.  Such solution can lead to avoiding more fundamental questions, such as why the established political, economic, and legal systems resulted in such inequality in the first place and how we can address it systematically.
  73. 73. How We Treat Learning  Whether we like it or not, schools, colleges, and libraries will continue to educate students and people to make them more hirable by improving their skills and providing more information, more resources, and more exposure to technology.  The relationship of economic exchange in education - students as clients and knowledge/skills as commodities – will continue and accelerate.
  74. 74. The Role of Libraries Is Never Apolitical.  “In the current climate of accountability and austerity, libraries have become veritably “obsess[ed] with quantitative assessment, student satisfaction, outcomes, and consumerist attitudes towards learning.”” - Cathy Eisenhower and Dolce Smith, “The Library as Stuck Place: Critical Pedagogy in the Corporate University,” in Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods, eds. Maria Accardi, Emily Drabinski, and Ilana Kumbier (Sacramento, Calif.: Library Juice Press, 2010), 314.
  75. 75. What We Do Not Want  We do not want knowledge to be treated as mere commodities.  We do not want learning to be reduced to mere transactions that will build up to just enough competencies to make our patrons hirable.  For that, we need to first and foremost understand that the role of libraries is never apolitical.
  76. 76. Libraries as a Socially Meaningful Public Institution  Libraries need to find ways to establish their stance as a socially responsible and meaningful public institution and reflect that in the ways libraries operate.  We should be able to serve library patrons with the full understanding of the current socioeconomic and political conditions that shape libraries and their fiscal realities.  Ideologies are human constructs. They can be changed, but only when we understand them. This is why libraries value knowledge and understanding.
  77. 77. Why Creativity & Innovation?  “… one of the fundamental tasks of educators is to make sure that the future points the way to a more socially just world, a world in which critique and possibility —in conjunction with the values of reason, freedom, and equality— function to alter the grounds upon which life is lived.” - Henry A. Giroux, “Lessons From Paulo Freire,” The Chronicle of Higher Education, October 17, 2010,  The goal of productivity and economic growth cannot be more productivity and economic growth.
  78. 78. What Technologists Can Do  As library technologists, we need to ensure that our application of technology works towards altering the grounds upon which life is lived ‘for the better,’ not worse.  As library technologists, we need to pay particularly close attention to the way technologies are meshed with ideology and what effect it has on the library’s mission and our patron’s lives.  Technology is a powerful tool for boosting productivity and enabling innovation. But it loses its value when such productivity and innovation is pursued blindly.
  79. 79. Challenges  “Surveys that Ithaka conducts periodically of faculty and of library directors show a growing gap in our beliefs about what libraries are for. Increasingly, library directors (with the exception of those at research libraries) assign more importance to the learning that happens in libraries and less to maintaining collections.  Faculty surveyed think the most important role of the library is the provision of the information they want for their research and teaching.” -Barbara Fister, “Schrödinger’s Library,” Inside Higher Ed., January 7, 2015, fish/schr%C3%B6dinger%E2%80%99s-library - Ithaka Survey, library-survey-2013
  80. 80. ACRL Framework for Information Literacy  Authority Is Constructed and Contextual.  Information Creation as a Process  Information Has Value.  Research as Inquiry  Scholarship as Conversation  Searching as Strategic Exploration
  81. 81. John Jackson and Alice Whiteside, “Open Sourcing Ideas: Sharing and Recreating a Library Instruction Program,” ACRL Tech Connect Blog, 2014. ExCiting Food workshops at Mount Holyoke College Library, MA and Whittier College Library, CA.
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  84. 84. What We Want To Do  The Human Library project suggests a way in which libraries that primarily deal with information and knowledge can also operate as a socially responsible and meaningful institution in the community, not just one that provides the best value for money for borrowed books, other resources, and library services.  In this climate of the commodification of education and the constant demand on libraries to prove its ROI value, it will be a long way to hash out the details of the library operation beyond equipping patrons with desired job skills and providing needed information resources.
  85. 85. Some Pointers
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  89. 89. Non-toxic Ink from Bacteria
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  91. 91. For the the direction of your next library project,  Remembering that libraries can act as a more socially responsible and meaningful institution as well as an information and knowledge sharing institution can make a big difference.
  92. 92. Trevon Logan and John Parman, “The Rise of Residential Segregation,” Vox, March 9, 2015,
  93. 93. Filter Bubble
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  98. 98. policy/2013/03/how-dongle- jokes-got-two-people-fired- and-led-to-ddos-attacks/
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  101. 101. status/567428224297103361
  102. 102. How Are Libraries Different?  Many institutions advocate technology and innovation. How are libraries different?  Libraries can play a pivotal role in educating people in areas that receive little attention from other institutions, such as filter bubble, residential segregation, assistive technology, and environmental issues, and more.
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  104. 104. Where else other than at libraries shall we find the critical distance to reflect on today’s constant push for productivity and efficiency? Critical Library Instruction: Theories and Methods
  105. 105. Thank you! Questions? Slides: #LTC2015

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Script at Recording at The closing keynote for the 2015 Library Technology Conference at St. Paul, MN at March 19, 2015. #LTC2015


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