All Immersive Tech’s Virtual Reality IS Hyper-Linked for a Truly Interactive Learning Experience
Out of all Prof Stephen’s curriculum, “virtual libraries/virtual education” is a subject that I’ll continue to build on in my academic and professional career. I have never had a stronger sense of the direction of information professions as I did when I explored immersive technologies – specifically mixed reality (MR) via Microsoft’s HoloLens.
Virtual Libraries in Virtual Schools.
SJSU’s MLIS program is almost virtual today
Now all I need is a Hololense!
“…we need to redevelop our services so that we are interacting with and fitting into the user’s workflow.” –(LSE, 2017)
Today’s resources are all but allocated for, at least in industrialized nations. There are regulations for everything except for information economies (these have punishments only). Information literacy itself has become increasingly regulated to the point of censure in many examples.
Freedom of speech isn’t the same as freedom of education. Many facts and anecdotes are not allowed to be shared in totalitarian dictatorships such as China. People often disappear sharply after or during any sort of protest to the government. And Google.com is not allowed in that nation at all, for the Chinese government might loose information control.
Ideas aren’t unlimited resources. And China will steal yours if you’re not careful (how to stop China from stealing your intellectual property). Once a patent is placed on one, at least by an American in America, it is considered their intellectual property even if someone else shared that same idea at whatever point in time. But there’s a different sort of information that no one can censure, and that’s a “skill”.
Libraries accommodate, host, and/or have transformed almost completely into “maker spaces”. When a librarian teaches the information that culminates as a “skill”, the newly skilled maker/user is free to use that information for whatever purposes they like (otherwise lawfully). This is one of the reasons that the new manifestation and services provided by newly skilled librarians are so popular and important. Skills are unlimited resources. Skills not “things”, are why people are now going to the library.
Professor Michael Stephens used the “choose your own adventure books” theme in this week’s module. As far as deciding on what thread to follow, I was over-ambitious and read through many of these library exploration choices from hyperlinked academic libraries at Carnegie Mellon University to public elementary school “mini-libraries”. But I think the idea of the intersectionality between academic libraries and museums is the most interesting because it fused together what are no longer dispirit institutions and services.
Libraries and museums both curate documents: Libraries focus on information recorded on documents; museums focus on artifacts from which to procure, as well as ascribe, meaning to and information from. There’s a synergy between their points of intersection, despite the materiality of each appearing quite different – sculpture or novel?
GLAM for “galleries, libraries, archives, and museums” is a newly minted meta-term which validates their connection. Storytelling is as much of a classic art form as didactic religious paintings. And as Margaret Kett in “7 reasons libraries are GLAM”has pointed out, “Libraries collect, conserve, house, and lend anything that tells the story of who we are” (2019). Photos, magazines, books, movies, and music are included under this umbrella. More than one of these mediums is part and parcel to museums and galleries.
I assisted curators and librarians whose work was sacred to me and in the most wonderful rooms and buildings and hallways and times in my life. Both of these places and all the things they contained and exhibited and shared are precious to mankind, hence their curation and preservation and dissemination. So, where does the new juggernaut of information professionalism called the “hyperlink” fit in?
The hyperlinked academic library is especially interesting to me because although there isn’t a drop of romance in a library website’s database search page, physical libraries and museums, and virtual libraries are sacred information centers. That’s easy to answer if you’ve worked in both. Artifacts and written documents are begin digitized at a rapid and unprecedented speed. Today, students in colleges around the world access and utilize academic resources such as databases for all manner of documented information.
When a digitized painting of the Mona Lisa becomes as real as reality via mixed realty technology, why would anyone visit the Louvre Museum in Paris (since 1797)? The knee-jerk response is: Until the Louvre and all of Paris itself are digitally available. GLAM may soon be spelled “GLAMMR” for: Galleries, Libraries, Archives, Museums, and Mixed Reality.” Librarians themselves will become digitized hosts but remain the gate-keepers and educators of mankind.
In my Module 1&2 reflection, I critically examined the definition of “libraria” throughout the centuries and compared it with the last twenty years in the western world. What I did not explicitly mention is that I conceptualize today’s and tomorrow’s library as a hyperlink to hyperlinks. As the machines we use grow smaller and more capable, they will increasingly shrink wrap around our bodies until they penetrate them as implantations and cybernetics. This is already being done – Deep Brain Stimulation therapy has had tremendous impact in psychiatry and brain surgery. Today’s science fiction will always become tomorrows reality.
So where does this leave libraries and librarians? Well, I don’t expect them to go extinct. Instead, they might continue on their digitized and virtualized career paths until they only serve as “mixed reality” (technology which allows a user to interact with a 3D layout over actual physical reality: HoloLense from Microsoft). So rather than whine about the real extinction of the classical “Alexandria” libraries, I’m going to tout and embrace the appearance of Hyperlinked Libraries.
My commentary is as much about library communities as it is about community building in general. Peter Block wrote about community systems building in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging (2009). I think his premise is spot on, however, I disagree a nuance to this discussion that Professor Michael Stephens writes about in his SJSU INFO 287, Module 5 description:
“Building a relationship between the librarian and the user is a step toward establishing the bonds of community. That’s why we can’t just hide behind our reference desks or our virtual lecterns and hope that students or users listen but leave us alone. Active engagement begins here. If we can articulate our purpose and goals well and use it as a basis for building community, we are on the right track.”
Community is definitely the result of bond-building with others — I concede this point. But I do not think information professionals “hide behind our reference desks or our virtual lectures…”. I argue that info professionals including librarians are progressively being replaced by maker-space facilitators and libraries with virtual reality. My reasons are both social and economic: academic and public libraries are constantly competing for funding with other entities and other missions. When libraries transform fully into maker-spaces for communities and webpage portals for academia, librarians will need to accommodate their members via virtual everything. (Below is a medical student and professor studying VR anatomy.)
Technologies such as the HoloLense are free for qualified communities (they offer it to thousands of different non-profits and schools). They plan on increasing their awards and improving their technologies. I do not thing that government funding will be provided for libraries whose document collections are made of paper in the near future. I think the funding will go towards far less expensive mobile devices and information professional hubs.
Book/physical print analogue libraries will become maker spaces. And the “healing power” of the last physical libraries (Stolls, 2015) will be experienced virtually, in a mixed-reality or virtual reality library. I do not mean that community building will become a sterile and anonymous experience. Neither do I mean that new technologies will fix what people haven’t been able to and probably cannot. I agree with Danah Boyd’s comment in What World Are We Building? (2915) when she argues that technology is made by people and contains all the good, bad, and ugly that we do, in society through our communities. Instead, I think it’s going to “mirror and magnify” our physical behaviors. The implication is simply that community will still be fostered by libraries and information professionals will continue to serve those communities but with far greater resources and types of services (just consider the entire library collection from Europe and Asia hyperlinked into your local community).
And just to modify my point a little, mixed reality systems will become so lifelike that in-person interactions will be satisfyingly replicated, but never replaced. This is the leverage that government funding will use to abandon physical libraries as such. This is why only maker-spaces will survive and thrive. I have a computer at home and an iphone in hand, but I don’t have space for a sewing workshop, nor the budget or expertise for procuring and using sewing tables with large pattern-cutting grids, expensive tools such as a reliable and decent quality machine, variety of often expensive materials, or a teacher to physically guide my fingers the first time I put fabric to the needle.
My understanding of this context for these readings, for this course, is summed up by Brian Mathews in Think Like a Startup (2012) with:
“The media and pop culture provide us with romanticized visions of dorm room ideas becoming billion dollar IPOs. And indeed, that does happen sometimes, but startups are more than rags to riches stories. In concise terms: startups are organizations dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This sounds exactly like an academic library to me. Not only are we trying to survive, but we’re also trying to transform our organizations into a viable service for 21st century scholars and learners.”
Social changes have led to a greater demand in multifaceted information computing and management. For centuries, every developing society has recorded information into or on a form of document. One of my favorite and popular examples is the Library of Alexandria which is written about as if it was Atlantis but rather than being drowned into the deep mysteries of the ocean, it was instead ravaged and burned to ashes. It’s less myth than cultural heritage and marks a zenith for classical libraria (I just made up this word. I like it.)
Today’s libraries aren’t so much vulnerable to flames and whirlpools as they are to digital viruses and information corruption, oh – and electricity outages. Ancient texts were made of paper and carried around as “mobile” documents with integrated frameworks and systems for transfer of information. Those artifacts are still made and used today in the context of libraries and education, however, you might think of entire libraries as “mobile” since so many of us have technologies which act as brain dendrites, or more fantastically, the arms of an octopus. Octopi are my favorite animal, my spirit animal, for so many reasons. Their brains are a mystery: They run on a decentralized nervous system, two-thirds of which is distributed in the eight arms and legs, away from the central brain. This is the way I understand today’s libraries. Their isn’t one single source of their services and resources. There are main libraries which operate some of the system, then there are branches which cumulatively are responsible for more information making (i.e., maker spaces), curation, management, and dissemination. But there’s more, and maybe this is where the octopus metaphor ends. Mobile devices, which are almost every computer device consumer uses today, are their own library systems and they provide a handle for close-touch information experiences. The progression is quite clear to me: libraries – to – home computing – to — mobile computing – to – cloud computing – to implanted and cybernetic computing.
But back to my original thought – how new libraries survive and thrive the startup culture of that began in the wonderful 1990’s. Libraries are mobile now. Their systems work remotely and locally. To survive, libraries must evolve the ways in which they serve as hubs for information activity. I really want libraries to survive as maker spaces, and maybe they will. But I don’t conceptualize today’s maker-space libraries as authentic libraries because that definition is centuries old and has a far stricter vocabulary of defining elements. If I’m being honest, libraries have lost their once classical appeal.
I miss the days when libraries had just books and pictures – I miss the paper of it all! Yes, I’m a complete romantic when it comes to the history of Virginia and Lenard Woolf’s in-house printing press and publishing company (which was really a startup in that context). I miss the QUIET that was not too long ago guaranteed by librarians and the culture of libraries. When I visit my local library in Willow Glen, and I try to study and write, I’m constantly under a barrage of distraction from the public sharing my space. I don’t feel like I have a space, a private space for a private act (as Jeanette Winterson always says: reading is a private act. When you read, your thoughts are shared with no one else, and they aren’t recorded by the FBI or Google. Your thoughts can be your secret, which is a precious commodity in the era of crawlers and insidiously corrupt cultures such as the Chinese who monitor and censure all information that they can). I stopped visiting the local library because I couldn’t get anything done. It was like being on a public transit train (I lived in NYC for ten years) and trying to read and write poetry. I did try this. I did fail.
I’m sounding too grim and fatalistic. I will say that academic libraries continue with the long-standing traditions that I miss. And although I can’t get any reading or writing done at my local library anymore, I can take my nine year-old nephew to reading groups and socialize him with other children in the wonderful context of interactive little learners. Also, I’ve read that sewing classes may become available at my library, and I’ve just begun that hobby. So there are indeed facets of the “new library” that I like and take advantage of. But again, I don’t consider them libraries anymore. They are community maker spaces now. I sincerely hope that academic libraries do not follow the same course. I consider them sacred spaces – I always have. It will be interesting to see what they look like in ten years. Will digitization of articles and books and other artifacts replace the printed page? Will students have any reason to visit their college MLIS or Psychology libraries when all the databases that they need for their work is available through library portals?
I’ve begun collecting my own books and make private library of my own. I’m never going to digitize it.
Current information landscapes aren’t just fascinating; it’s critical that MLIS students keep abreast on current information technology, or ancillary technologies: things people use that aren’t directly linked to computers and books but support those technologies. One great example that was brought up in our lecture was a meditation kit. Approaching data and information requires some fundamental cognition conditions. Mood changes how permeable our brains are and how well we can learn. Mood and emotion disorders are particularly rough on the learning process. I suffer from mood, attention, and concentration challenges that are hard-wired into my brain. Many, many people have, do, and will experience these cognitive hurdles. This makes thinking out of the box as an information professional crucial to our mission of facilitating learning through reading of all kinds. Supporting reading and readers must include supporting good mood hygiene.
My she-row and favorite author of all time(s), Jeanette Winterson, always says that reading is a private activity (and that everything we do is political.) Meditation is conceptually and by design, a public activity. In the library, for example, mindfulness practices are facilitated in groups in the same room and often organized in tight real estate. A large part of meditation is connecting with oneself to relax and ground one’s mind and emotions (I won’t go into detail on meditation in this blog). A calm state of mind and good mood hygiene is ideal for reading and learning. If you’ve ever tried to teach someone who is anxious, angry, or upset and distracted, you know how important, and sometimes necessary, a clear mind and emotional state is. I love that the lecture brought up meditation because these classes and kits are the lowest of low-tech and yet in an environment that’s increasingly high-tech, it may make the difference between student and member learning success and failure. It’s not always about the “new thing” to satisfy our technolust. Sometimes we need to get old school about how we help others learn.
When Professor Stephens assigned an investigation of emerging technology which could enhance libraries and information centers’ user experience, I immediately thought of “mixed reality” (MR). Out of all the innovations that libraries have embraced today, this is the most exciting and, I will argue, the most valuable and widely applicable in both public and academic libraries such as the one at Cabrillo Community College in Aptos, California. MR is the combination of “augmented reality” (AR) and “virtual reality” (VR). AR generates a virtual 3D layout within interactive holograms over the real-world landscape and VR encapsulates users within a virtual 3D environment completely separate from the real one. Considered together or independently, these extra-reality synthesizers provide unprecedented modes of learning, teaching, and social bonding remotely or in-person, in groups or by oneself, in real time or asynchronously. Health- and medical science libraries such as the Augmentarium at the University of Maryland for surgery training and Case Western’s holographic medical anatomy (Lessick et al., 2017) signal a committed and enthusiastic (these aren’t synonyms) evolution in health science education taking place in both libraries and classrooms, as well as in public or at home, as a movement in education towards global synthesized reality omnipresence.
Purpose and Benefits
After reading research and shopping around amazon, I’m not surprised that everyone from kids at home playing video games to medical students modeling surgery share a novel passion for this new technology. Event though, their textbook technolust is naïve to the potential real-world solutions that synthesized alternate reality tech could leverage (Stephens, 2004), their enthusiasm and commitment for and will escalate these tools into a stratospheric cultural and social asset.
MR technology has the potential to augment and significantly strengthen medical science library education; surgery training and general anatomy lessons which would be otherwise cost-prohibitive and physically — in the real world of “stuff” we can touch – impossible to include in a syllabus, in one room, at one time, and done more than once (once you cut a cadaver, you cannot “re-cut” in repetition, nor can you use simulation dolls in the same way)…these would now be available for infinite digital repetitions at much lower prices than doll and cadaver incur. MR in medical libraries will best any “real life” surgery lesson, save for actual surgery performed on living humans, in cost, scale, re-usability, adaptability or upgrade factor, and perhaps even efficacy as the technology rapidly evolves. This is to say nothing of the safety protocols, maintenance, and clean-up (yes, cadavers are high maintenance and expire relatively early considering their considerable cost and scarcity) and dolls are also expensive, wear out, loose relevancy as technologies evolve, and require physical space to use and store. MR in health science centers will undoubtedly lead to more lives saved as physical education materials are phased out by virtual ones. It makes sense to perpetuate the MR educational systems through both health science libraries and programs. And the lowest common denominator in college education in the US is our community college network of schools which, for a considerable population of Americans, our front-line for training healthcare professionals. Among these are colleges such as Cabrillo which are special in that they offer health science classes but also a specific nursing program for LVN and transfer nursing students.
Description of Community you wish to engage:
I intend to engage healthcare learning centers which includes health and medical libraries, surgery training centers, and general human biology courses (note: this program is designed to expand and scale into all physical science education). I want to begin with the Cabrillo Community College library and Nursing Program classrooms in Aptos, California.
Action Brief Statement:
I intend to convince Cabrillo College’s library administrators that by embracing MR they will transform their institutions’ learning experience by partnering with their clinicians, faculty, researchers, and students to leverage the use of MR which will scale the quality and quantity of better trained and abled health care professionals because training costs money and virtual simulations cost less, enthusiasm amongst students and faculty drives better education which better prepares new healthcare professionals, and unlike practice dolls and textbooks, MR experiences are, like their users (Stephens, 2018), hyperlinks which perform as a connection hub which infinitely expands today’s library resources and it’s a libraries’ responsibility to focus on their connection management as much as their collection management (arguably, more so [Bohyun, 2012]).
Convince students and other users that by participating in MR health sciences education they will learn exponentially more from a hyperlinked collective experience which will optimize their practical skills and learning retention while relieving them of the cumbersome and less-effective physical learning supplements and tools because library learning today is as much digital as it used to be physical.
Goals/Objectives for Technology or Service:
1. Expand student learning, faculty teaching, and librarian training in the health sciences.
2. Facilitate the creation, transmission, and socialization of knowledge between STEM students via MR as hyperlink hub.
3. Promote STEM principals in our communities by offering MR health science learning resources to both students and library patrons.
4. Encourage the exposure to and use of existing supplemental analogue education materials by attracting health science students into the library for MR training and education.
5. Increase awareness of the library’s greater range of mobile digital resources by hyperlinking them to MR lessons.
6. Demonstrate the value of the library as a digital maker space within a physical one.
7. Educate better to save more lives: students learn faster, remember more, do better, and care more using MR.
Evidence and Resources to support Technology or Service: (URLS, articles to help guide you)
Mission, Guidelines, and Policy related to Technology or Service: Introducing any new service or resource to Cabrillo College’s library or the Robert E. Swenson Library, must adhere to said policies as it coordinates with their nursing program. As a differently abled person myself, I know how important it will be to also coordinate MR roll-out and teaching with Cabrillo’s Accessibility Support Center (ASC) to ensure the maximum and best available opportunities for students and patrons of all walks of life. Cabrillo’s library mission statement welcomes not only students by the general public, so long as they respect its resources and services: “Cabrillo library patrons will be able to successfully use the library’s physical and electronic services, information tools, and resources, to find and evaluate information, and accomplish academic endeavors in the pursuit of formal and informal learning.” As with any school today, I would ideally like to add to this statement by assuring students that the library is a safe space where they may feel comfortable using MR systems which, during use, leave users essentially “sensory blind” to the atmosphere and those around them while using the technology. And to be fair, I would expect that any MR users who break or steal the technology from or in the library be fined according to the cost of the loss. This technology is not inexpensive enough yet to be regularly replaced; every system broken or stolen is a system that other students and patrons won’t be able to experience. This additional policy of misconduct will allow for accidental damage. Lastly, because this is a very new technology, it should be subject to frequent review which should inform library and nursing classroom policies going forward.
Funding Considerations for this Technology or Service: While some academic libraries and health science departments enjoy considerable private donation and state operations and resource support, Cabrillo College is a community college in California which is subject to tight budgetary management. Fortunately, because MR resources will be shared by the library and the nursing program, it should expect a combined funding and allocation strategy from central administration planning. This may mean twice the funding for the technology, or better still, in excess of twice the would-be budget by virtue of the cross-departmental need. MR will become a larger and more important asset to the school which should accommodate it accordingly.
MR is expensive, however. But so were personal computers in the 1980’s. What happened then is already happening now, if more specifically. And rather than Apple supporting American elementary schools with computers, Microsoft is supporting a plethora of technologies to schools, colleges and universities, as well as nonprofits and museums. And it just so happens that Microsoft is now taking Academic Research Request for Proposals by supplying eligible groups/schools/museums with their cutting-edge HoloLens which goes beyond AR and VR to offer truly MR without losing sight of the real world around you (this is unique as of this writing). Aloha Record Sargent, Cabrillo’s library Technology Services Librarian welcomes new ideas.
Action Steps & Timeline: This service and resource can be piloted at Cabrillo and later replicated at any of the other 1,462 community collegesstrewn about the country (the largest number are in California, Texas, North Carolina, Illinois, and New York). The program could be launch between a 9-month to 15-month period, depending on the technology’s availability, allocation, and initial training. Microsoft will send out experts who train community leaders in the HoloLens. The actual time it will take to launch classroom lab sessions and library reference will depend on these realistic factors. The enthusiasm and technological savvy of the millennial college students will no doubt fill faculty teaching and learning gaps as well as help to flatten the nascent learning curve. The “fun factor” and “technolust” about MR should not be underestimated in its potential to dramatically improve health science learning.
1. Pitch project to the library’s Technology Services Librarian and two nursing program senior faculty members. (1 Week)
2. Pitch project with demonstrations by a HoloLens Microsoft expert to the Director of the library as well as the head of the nursing program. (1 Week)
3. If approved to go forward, both library and nursing program coordinate an application to the Microsoft Academic Research Request for Proposals award. (1 Month)
4. If the award is granted, library and nursing program will begin lesson planning and physical accommodations for HoloLens with the help of Microsoft supervisor. (6 Months). If not granted, seek funding from the state under a newly appointed cross-departmental health sciences technology committee. (1-2 Years)
5. If money is found, begin coaching all involved faculty on MR technology, as supported by Microsoft supervisor. (3 Months)
6. Once faculty have gone through basic training, a group of test students in library and nursing classes will test out the first six weeks of new lesson plans. All students will be surveyed. (6 weeks)
7. Once feedback has been gathered from students, faculty, and Microsoft supervisor, revise all lesson and reference plans. (2 weeks)
8. Once lesson plans have been updated, the library will host a two-week long HoloLens campaign with minimal physical advertising but large website banners and pop-ups. Tickets will be raffled online, each student ID entered will be given a number, and the library will host hour-long sessions per student during all business hours. Each participating student should be surveyed about their experience. (2 Weeks)
9. Once the library completes its campaign, feedback from library staff and students will be collected. Library protocols and arrangements will be modified to suit new survey and staff feedback. (2 Weeks)
10. Once both departments have tested their tech and surveys have been gathered, an evaluation period. (Ongoing)
Staffing Considerations for this Technology or Service: Microsoft includes free direction, training, and support for their MR technology award. A nursing program tech support member should be hired from each class for each class in a work-for-tuition contract. Additionally, tech support from the student body should be hired in shifts in the library. These student workers will be given all access to Microsoft support as well as MR supplies and privileges. No new faculty need be hired.
Training for this Technology or Service: Student MR techs will be responsible for learning to teach students how to use the MR technology and how to rely on Microsoft support and technology updates. Faculty and librarians will have already been trained each term by a virtual Microsoft MR expert. The cascade will flow from Microsoft to faculty and library staff to student techs to student classes and library members. Because this is MR technology, training lessons and updates can be scheduled whenever it is convenient for staff or student. Regular trainings will be scheduled by Microsoft and shared with students and staff. Students will be given more agency in their learning by having to self-train as well as be led by instructors and librarians.
Promotion & Marketing for this Technology or Service: MR technology in the library and classroom will be promoted exclusively by word-of-mouth and digital advertising on the college website and social media. This technology is predominantly targeting a hyper-tech savvy and technolustful youth group which participate in each other’s lives as well as in formal learning online and in virtual realities. The cost and effort savings will be great. The focus is to train students to teach students in a term-by-term circuit. This will also relieve the college budget of hiring faculty who would be spending time on promotion, training, and otherwise managing a system that can manage itself. Moreover, because Microsoft is a giant with giant marketing of this MR technology, most of the work is done for the college in terms of promoting and marketing. (If the Microsoft award is not granted, then this plan is still viable. The only difference is where the funding is coming from. Microsoft will still train users and equip them with regularly evolving updates.)
Evaluation: Evaluation criteria will include:
*Trends in course and library attendance.
*Statistics in differences from previous analogue nursing courses to MR courses: learning retention, synthesis, etc.
*Mandatory library MR surveys and course exit interviews.
*Feedback from staff and faculty.
*Microsoft analytics on our performance and behavior
There are boundless applications for MR technology in education across the board. Communities can be strengthened by connecting both in person and virtually to share ideas and stories. There are even gigantic technology empires who see this potential and want to share new transformative tools such as MR that connect us to ourselves and others like never before. Not to mention, most of us, I hope, want to reduce out carbon footprints in an unstable climate by getting on zoom rather than in the car. This all seems grand, but research on MR’s positive effects on learning in classrooms, libraries, and at home, are incontrovertible.
Community colleges are small and inexpensive and limited and don’t carry any prestige, nor offer a degree that meets most standards of employability. But they’re also the unsung heroes of students like myself who transferred from Cabrillo to U.C. Berkeley because they are very good at educating, they have great libraries, they are accessible to virtually all of us – rich or poor, they bring commuters from a great variety of backgrounds just as so many universities do, and they evolve with the times to offer an education with new and exciting and effective teaching methods.
Medical schools have a great deal of money – there’s lots of money in medicine, after all. They can afford new teaching tools such as MR and they have. Now it’s time our unsung heroes get those resources as well. Cabrillo’s nursing program offers a two-year degree to become an LVN but prepares most students to transfer into four-year intuitions with more money and greater resources. Microsoft isn’t the only wealthy tech company looking to fund places like Cabrillo who have very rare and unique health sciences programs like nursing. Google has a version of MR and so does Facebook, and they both award this technology to libraries and classrooms whom otherwise could not afford it.
Why not approach the acquisition and employment of this transformative technology by enrolling students in the application, training, testing, and coaching of MR technologies, libraries and classrooms rather than sacrifice precious funding on new staff? Getting students and library members to help apply for and implement MR tech is a new and better way to strengthen our community colleges and improve what they offer to so many of us. With the help of enthusiastic and motivated students, the dedication of our community college teachers and librarians, the generous donations of tech giants, and little need to invest in marketing, expanding this program to other community colleges should go viral.
I’m still surprised by how rapidly and completely the digital revolution transformed my Generation X’s information lifestyle. Our predecessors and successors – Gen X is flanked by Baby Boomers and Millennials — experienced the high-tech take-over as well, but we were are the only population that had an analog childhood and a digital adulthood. Unlike later Millennials who had no choice, we embraced and expanded the digital world (e.g. the Internet of All Things) in large part because we felt a casual disdain for authority and structured work hours. Furthermore, we didn’t like being micro-managed, preferring a hands-off philosophy in the workplace. Lucky for us, digital technology allowed us to asynchronously and autonomously work by proxy and circumvent management altogether by starting our own companies online. This was all because we no longer were limited to rules of atoms and space, as Weinberger put it. We were now playing by the bits and bytes rules in which information which are significantly different. Indeed today, “More studies reveal that Gen X is playing a critical – and underappreciated – role in leadership as organizations grapple with digital transformation” (2018, CNBC). And why not? We were the original “life hackers.”
In Everything is Miscellaneous, David Weinberger studies today’s digital alternate universe by comparing it to our physical and primary one. Through his studies, interviews, and research, Weinberger sheds light on how our private and professional lives move online where the rules of the physical world ― in which everything is arranged in a singular and optimal order ― are upended. This is where increasing piles of random paperwork, if left unchecked, become increasingly disordered and even chaotic. By contrast, in the digital world, information entropy yields positive and transformative effects.
Information Wants to be Miscellaneous
At face value, messy information sounds like a headache, a time-suck, and a possible liability. I’m sure you wouldn’t want your checking account number mixed in with a Facebook post. And no one wants to sit for hours, days, even months, rifling over pictures that are constantly being data-dumped into your hard drive. Weinberger writes about these examples which include unnamed and often unwanted digital pictures mixed in with the keepers would be a nightmare to sort out yet are regularly uploaded on websites such as Flicker.com where the editing-out and file naming will be done for free by other customers. Or another example, your iTunes collection wherein your music information is conveniently sorted in all sorts of ways by you or other users with access to your playlists. Weinberger explains that this is all possible because the bits and bytes that make up your digital pictures and music tracks exist in a veritable mess! Unlike products on the shelves of a store, for example, that can only have one place in one organizational order, digital products can be in many places at once and found by reorganizing a digital store yourself in as many ways as you can imagine. And digital organizations will tailor your search options based on your patterns of behavior which leads to new ideas and greater efficiency.
Friends are More Important than Authority
So according to the author, messiness is a digital virtue. Another one is flat hierarchies. Gen X’ers like myself probably relish the fact that authorities are less important than friends when you’re online. In the digital world, customers trust people like themselves and build virtual communities to evaluate products, services, and experiences. I remember buying the thick and expensive U.S. News and Forbes annual college ranking in high school to help me with my BIG academic choices. Everyone I knew in school relied on these books and virtually no one had access to any school alumni or students.
Today, we have RateMyTeachers.com where students evaluate, rate, and review teachers and courses. We can also use information-sharing sites such as Quora (I’m a huge fan) to get unfiltered and not-for-profit, so to speak, advice from actual students who attend or graduated from a school you’re interested in and better still, you can begin online discussions may influence you to check options you’d never thought of. This kind of information is public and rather than being created as a business asset, it’s a social and democratic one which can link you to new frontiers that value your interests.
Too Much Information? No Such Thing
The common online user has always been the top of the digital hierarchy. I know I’ve always appreciated this inverse relationship with the physical world. Another thing the author points out is that there’s no such thing as “too much” information in the digital world. Whereas in the physical one, you can’t write more than one label for each filed folder. But you can ascribe many names, titles, tags, descriptions and blank spaces to digital documents. Here, the more information you give a document the more hooks people will have to find what they need. Weinberger provides the example of searching through 11 million photographs in the Bill Gates’ Bettmann Archive. Each picture has just one title, and because of this, it can only be found with one search criteria. This is profoundly limiting. The author writes, “the solution to the overabundance of information is more information” (2008, pp. 13).
I believe that everyone who can access and navigate today’s hyperlinked internet benefits from how its information is organized. I think that Everything is Miscellaneous does a great job at contrasting the profound differences between how and why information is organized in the digital world compared with the physical world. I am certain that he advocates digitizing analogue information within libraries, museums, archives, media collections, and group discussions for a more democratic and humanitarian global citizenry. “The miscellaneous order is not transforming only business. It is changing how we think the world itself is organized and – perhaps more important – who we think has the authority to tell us so” (2008, pp. 23).
Weinberger, D., (2008). Everything is Miscellaneous. New York: Times Books / Henry Holt and Co.
I completed my undergrad at UC Berkeley in Visual Culture in 2004. I worked for their Art History/Classics library as a librarian’s assistant. That’s the extent of my experience in the information field. I worked as an assistant curator for a brief time at the Legion of Honor in SF (very brief…).
My twenties were spent in New York City, first growing Peter Thiel’s hedge fund, and later doing hair for editorial and ad campaigns under celebrity stylist Garren; I went by my Danish middle name, Holgar, because the industry favors “uniqueness” (portfolio at Holgardotnet.wordpress.com (Links to an external site.))
(Below is me, Scarlett, and my boss Garren for a Dolce & Gabbana “The One” perfume commercial in 2011 shot by Jean Baptiste Mondino in Albuquerque, NM. Her hair was red for The Avengers, so I had to find, cut, and color this wig. She’s great – very sassy.)
I was a stylist for ten years before becoming a tech recruiter for Airbnb and several start-ups in the Bay Area. I’m halfway done with a second bachelor’s in biology. I’m passionate about D&I and have contributed to all of my client’s committees.
I have many interests. I’ve always loved reading literature, following science and medical anthropology, and I love sketching with pilot pens and discussing art history. My friends nicknamed me Vortex Chris because I’m always cycling down some rabbit hole… I’m hoping to work with medical research and data analysis in the biotech sector.