internet librarian 05 keynote: lee rainie

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I was up bright and early this morning so that I could walk on the wharf before breakfast and still make it to the keynote this morning. One of the reasons I particularly like speaking at Internet Librarian is that it consistently attracts interesting presenters (thanks in no small part to the efforts of Jane Dysart, the program chair). Lee Rainie, from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, is the headliner today.

(An aside: I hate conference room chairs. They're exactly the wrong height for me, so I end up with my laptop sliding off my lap. I need to get one of those nifty portable desk things that I've see Joi using.)

There's an "official" conference blog this year, as well as a wiki.

Ah, finally they've gotten through the preliminaries and mutual congratulations and moved on to introducing Lee.

No powerpoint! w00t! (The audience applauds when he says this, including the woman sitting next to me...who's working on her own powerpoint presentation for a later talk. She seems not to recognize the irony.) He also refers to a conference where there was a projected IRC channel during his talk. Does a nice job of summing up the pluses and minuses of that. (He says to try googling "Lee Rainie and Yoda," but when I got online and tried it I had no luck...) He thanks us for not putting him through that hazing here.

He asks how many people are live blogging his talk (~6), and how many plan to blog aspects (another handful)--good indicator of changes in the profession.

He reads from a text about what happens when new technologies enter mainstream culture, the role of information gatekeepers is significantly affected. Turns out that he's reading from the history of the printing press--but it could just as easily be applied to the internet.

What's happened over the past year, from his project's point of view? What's coming?

  • More than 2/3 of internet users now have broadband access of some kind--and broadband users are very different from dial-up users. They do different things, for different amount of times, and with more impact on their lives.
  • 1/3 of American adults do not consider themselves internet users, and 1/5 have never used the internet
  • The dial-up users of today are not as interested today as their predecessors in wanting access to lots of bits (those who wanted that access have it now; the rest don't feel "left behind" for the most part)

Obvious place of decline is chat rooms. Blogs, IM, and threaded discussion forums appear to have taken up that slack.

Teenagers and the internet:

Kids ages 12-17 are more connected than others, more intense users. They love and use IM, they love and use their cell phones (only 45% have cell phones--but if they have them, they love them). If you combine their IM and cell phone use, teenagers are redefining what it means to be present (great quote). His daughter was featured in a news story entitled "the conversation never ends". 8 out of 10 teenagers play online gains (54% gain in 2 years). Also a 38% increase in getting news online; 71% growth in buying things online (up to 43% of teens). They increasingly use the Internet for health information--particularly for "sensitive subjects."

Strikingly, teens are creating content. He says they're about to release a new report on this topic. (Yay!) New surveys show that 19% of teenagers have created blogs (3x the adult rate); an even higher % have created and worked on their own web sites.

Teenagers are frenetic multitaskers. Hardly any of them do a single thing at a time. They've been referred to as Generation "M" (for media). When you add up the time they spend using their various forms media, it's about 8.5 hours a day--but they do it in 6.5 hours of real time.

Question: How do teens respond to advertising? Answer is that they see it as just one more input--they're skeptical, but not as put off as adults. (That resonates with what I've seen in my kids.)

Question: Is there less depth of contact because of "all this stimulation". (Geez, what a value-laden question.) I jump in here (because I can't keep my mouth shut, natch) about last week's MSR piece from NYT Magazine (which I refuse to link to because they've put it behind their stupid "Times Select" paywall), and the fact that we can't necessarily extrapolate from our own experiences (and limitations) to those of our kids.

Politics and Internet

(Missed some of this...)

Tried to test for the extent to which people isolated themselves from opposing views online. They found that the internet contributed to a wider range of political views. Wired Americans, and especially broadband users, were more likely to have encountered opposing views. The Internet appears to be more of a door opener than an echo chamber.

Stephen Abrams asks about the extent to which consumers are aware of how search option optimization has affected their information consumption? Rainie says no, most internet users are quite unsophisticated, even to the extent of not differentiating between paid and non-paid search results. Notes that there's still a huge education role here.

Internet and "Major Moments"

They redid a survey about how people used the internet at "milestone moments' in their lives--buying a house, having a child, facing an illness, etc. He cites a bunch of numbers, but I can't keep up. (I assume this will be in an upcoming Pew Report, anyhow.)

Question: Is there backlash to the "always on, always connected" trend? Rainie says there's anecdotal evidence that's changing--from email-free Fridays to computer- and connectivity-free vacations.

What are the key trends he sees?

There are public toilets in France now that have IP addresses; there are golf balls with RFID tags. Says the RFID-ification of American is well underway. Mobile access is untethering us--you can start cooking dinner by sending commands from your phone, for example.

Their numbers on content creation are nearly 3 years old; they're about to do a new one.

Emphasizes the social dimension of search--says he sees that as incredibly important.

What should librarians be paying attention to?

  • Chris Anderson's "Long Tail" concept; does a good job of a quick broad brush explanation of the idea, cites Anderson's blog. (Damm! I was going to talk about this tomorrow. This is why I don't prepare presentations in advance; I always end up having to change things at the last minute...) How do people discover "Long Tail" stuff? Word of mouth and reputation systems. Rainie says (and I agree) that figuring out the social network aspects of this will be fascinating and important.
  • Rheingold's Smart Mobs: How do people self-organize using technology?
  • Linda Stone's discussion of "continuous partial attention"

Can libraries help us find the balance between being connected and being contemplative? (best line of the talk...)

He thinks that librarians are best suited to helping us create "information habitats" that strike this balance.

Wow. Great presentation! Rainie's wonderful, and sets an awfully high bar for me tomorrow!

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on October 24, 2005 11:06 AM.

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