Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Our impending future?

I've been reading a fascinating book by Jeff Howe called Crowdsourcing. It documents the history and current iterations of a phenomena that is influencing, transforming, and one might say revolutionizing everything from how ornithologists collect data to how t-shirts are sold. It would be foolish to think that libraries are not effected by this emerging reality of utilizing the "crowd" to accomplish infinitely more than can be done with our own limited resources.

In a great (albeit long) post on the blog In the Library with a Lead Pipe Ross Singer points to this:

Joe Lucia, the University Librarian at Villanova made an intriguing and provocative statement on the NGC4LIB mailing list two years ago with this:

“What if, in the U.S., 50 ARL libraries, 20 large public libraries, 20 medium-sized academic libraries, and 20 Oberlin group libraries anted up one full-time technology position for collaborative open source development. That’s 110 developers working on library applications with robust, quickly-implemented current Web technology…. Instead of being technology followers, I venture to say that libraries might once again become leaders…."

Singer goes on to expound on the idea within the context of public libraries, but I think what he adds to Lucia's statement is completely relevant to academic libraries as well. It seems to me that this kind of collective effort coupled with input from the "crowd" of interested, willing, and talented patrons will become imperative to creating tools that we could never dream of on our own.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this great post, Karl. You've definitely piqued my interest in Jeff Howe's book and Ross Singer's post.

    I'm such a visual learner so I just had to see if there is a Jeff Howe YouTube video- sure enough there is.

    In the meantime, the concept of "crowdsourcing" made me think of the crowdsourcing that volunteer organizations have done for years. No? Wonder if Mr. Howe mentions volunteers as crowdsourcers in his work.