Saturday, October 01, 2005

Blogging Out Loud: Shifts in Public View

Danah Boyd is not a librarian; she is a Ph.D student at the School of Information Management and Systems at the University of California, Berkeley. She appeared before the LITA Forum as a keynote speaker in a big furry hat, which made her look like a wolf, and she was not at all happy that Roy Tennant had called Google and Amazon the enemy in his presentation. She believes that she heard a call for librarians to be the gatekeepers of information in Tennant’s keynote speech and she is alarmed. She desires a more democratic system of information. She wants librarians, who so strongly support civil liberties, to extend a hand to bloggers, remixers, and other innovators of digital communication.

Boyd took exception to Michael Gorman’s complaints that blogs do not meet the traditional standards of journalism. She first said many of the charges made against blogs can often be made against news sources - who can claim that FoxNews is unbiased? The main point she said was that blogging is not journalism or publishing; she says it is correspondence or communication. Blogs should be compared with letters, which archivists collect for future researchers.

Boyd is a social scientist who has worked for both Google and Yahoo. She has studied the ways that youth use various services on the Internet for social interaction. She suggested that these services work as important forums and safety valves. She told of how suicides among gay youths have fallen as more youth became involved in Internet communications; they were able to find others of like minds; they no longer feel alone.

Blogging is increasing in popularity; Technorati reports that the number of blogs doubles every five months. A blog can do everything a piece of paper can: tell a story, show a picture, promote a product, etc. Blogs empower individuals to speak their minds and can be a check on the mainstream media that reserves comment to those selected by the news industry.

Boyd said librarians need to decide how to react to blogs. She doubts there is real value in archiving all blogs, but there is some preservation worthy work. She urged librarians to read blogs and use them in their work.

Boyd gave very articulate answers to the many questions after her formal presentation. I would have enjoyed listening to her longer. One of her blogs is apophenia. Her presentation was definitely one of the high points of the conference.

I am missing some of the many things that she said. You can find more about Boyd's speech from LITA bloggers Sarah Houhton and Michelle Boule

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