Click on and check out the individual trends ALA sees as most impacting the library of the future. What do you think of these trends? Did you see something you hadn’t considered? Do you think they are missing anything important?
Is there a downside to making more museums and cultural institutions more interactive? What is your view of the limitations of maker culture? Is there a risked loss of identity and value for libraries or other institutions?
The disadvantage of making museums and cultural institutions more interactive is if, in the process, the institution neglects to fill the needs of their whole community. In Nina Simon’s “The Participatory Museum”, she touches on this with stages of social participation. In her model, a museum does not need to alienate any of their patrons in this process “…participation is just one design technique among many, one with a particular ability to enhance the social experience of the institution. Implementing participatory techniques requires some changes to institutional perspectives on authority and audience roles, but these changes may be as small or large as a particular organization’s commitment. (Simon, ch 1) A cultural institution should have something to offer everyone. Museums must take on the commitment of ensuring that all levels of participation are given consideration. Visitors should be able to choose their own level of participation.
Makerspaces are an enticing way to draw in visitors who might not have otherwise stepped into the museum’s doors. Upon entering their doors, it is up to the institution to commit to keeping these potential lifelong patrons. When I take my kids to a museum, we go straight to the makerspaces and participatory exhibits, because they love it. If I am without my kids, I generally don’t want to have a participatory experience. I have always loved the comfort a quiet museum can bring. If I see something participatory, I tend to walk the other way.
We don’t want to lose what is appealing to the institution’s individuality. Different cultural institutions offer different experiences. In Judith H. Dobrzynski’s High Culture goes hands on “… in the process of adapting, our cultural treasuries are multitasking too much, becoming more alike, and shedding the very characteristics that made them so special…” This is a limitation of the maker culture. Not every space is a maker space, or a participatory experience.
When my kids go to a non-participatory museum environment, they might not have as much interactive fun. The science centers we attend mainly focus on young kids. As they grow out of them, I hope they will gain an appreciation for all museums. A museum should make a commitment to all museum patrons. The downside of making museums and cultural institutions more interactive is if, in the process, the institution neglects to fit the needs of their whole community. I want to choose my own level of participation.
Dobrzynski, J.H. (2013, August 10). High culture goes hands on. The New York Times: Sunday Review. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/11/opinion/sunday/high-culture-goes-hands-on.html
Simon, N. (2010). The Participatory Museum. Santa Cruz, CA: Museum 2.0.
Organizational loyalty and personalization are huge goals when trying to gain audience support. How can you see those concepts playing out in a library setting?
At 2318 square feet, the library where I work is the smallest branch in our system of 36 libraries. It sits in the middle of a park, and is seen by many in the community as a quaint little library that they love to visit. In spite of its size, there is a strong sense of pride that we are a part of the community. Visit any library across the nation, and you will see that there are many people who feel a strong attachment to own community library. Why? A strong community library happens when staff and patrons come together to care for their neighborhood library. That caring comes from a sharing input and ideas.
When people feel comfortable in voicing their feedback and opinions about their library, there is a greater sense of community. They feel vested. As Greenwalt suggests in “It’s All Around You”, “People have a lot of personal attachment to their home libraries, and with that a need for customization. By bringing more of our patrons into the conversation, we can improve those feelings of involvement across the board, hopefully upping our usage in the process.” (p 3) In turn, people regularly come to the library, raising circulation, attending programs, and making the community stronger.
Yes, our library is small, and people do give us feedback about the size. We often hear things like “you need more room”, “you don’t have enough computers” or “you really need a parking lot”. Yes those statements are all valid. We also hear about the benefits of a small library. “This is such a charming space” or “I love how welcome I feel here”, or “for the size, you have a great collection”. The input shows us that the community is paying attention. We also have a suggestion box that where patrons can add their input anonymously, though it’s rarely used. As a staff member, it is my hope that people feel comfortable enough with us to give us input personally.
Like patrons, library staff must also feel like valued members of the institution. That in turn makes them better employees “If you wish to pursue and implement new ideas, you need to create an environment where staff at all levels feel comfortable proposing improvements to any aspect of library service.” (Greenwalt, p 1) Employees shouldn’t hold back what could be a great idea, out of fear of being shut down or rejected. Nor should they be afraid to offer ideas that they feel are silly or outlandish. Instead, they should be encouraged to float around ideas regularly. The desire to give input means that they care about their workplace.
Will all of their ideas be implemented? No. Some input might not be practical, but by acknowledging that a staff member’s ideas are important, it builds a stronger workplace. When Greenwalt talks about website developers and failure, the example also fits into a library setting. “Failure is an option here—it helps build a better product” (p 1) For libraries, that “product” is a welcoming, and familiar space. For every failed idea, there are many ideas that may not fail, and have the potential to build a stronger library setting.
Both patrons and staff want their input to be heard. Acknowledging feedback from both staff and patrons is very important. Feedback varies greatly, everything from a very helpful “please move the board books so my toddler can reach them” to the less practical “build a bigger library”. The most important thing about input is to let patrons know that their feedback is important, that they are being heard, and that they are a valued member of their community library. Any and all input should be acknowledged as important and valued. This in turn makes everyone stronger, thus making the community as a whole stronger.
Greenwalt, T. (2014). It’s all around you: creating a culture of innovation. http://publiclibrariesonline.org/2014/02/its-all-around-you-creating-a-culture-of-innovation/
Are you familiar with the concepts of fandoms? Have you seen libraries successfully working with fan subcultures? To what effect?
A fandom is a community of fans. I am familiar with the concept of fandom, having read some fan fiction of my favorite stories. I know how much fun it is when you share a love for a story and can’t wait to share it, read it, and talk about it with those who love it, too. “Fandoms generally arise out of a shared love of a particular story, whether that story is told through television, cinema, video games, and most importantly for librarians, books… Fans actively participate with stories. They pick up the conversation where the author left it.” (Behrens) You finished reading the series? You loved a book but didn’t like how a story ended? Your favorite character was killed off? Fix it! Relive the characters through fan fiction. As Petra Mayer explains in her interview on Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch: The Rise of Fan Fiction: people like it because they can change the story however they’d like.
I have not personally seen libraries working successfully with fan subcultures, but it seems like libraries and fandoms would go together naturally. “Kids learned the story of Harry Potter by reading the books. They learned the meaning of Harry Potter by engaging with the material on a much deeper level. Just as important, they followed their passion.” (A New Culture of Learning, ebook) The best way to learn about something is to have a passion for it. The best way to connect kids to books is to let them fall in love with what they’re reading.
A good story makes you feel emotionally invested in the characters. It makes you stay up all night because you have to read just one more page. It makes you sad when you’ve finished reading. Thanks to fan fiction, a good story never has to end.
Behrens, Katie. (2012). Essay: why you should pay attention to fandoms. Retrieved from http://www.libraryasincubatorproject.org/?p=7618
Mayer, Petra. “Pop Culture Happy Hour, Small Batch: The Rise of Fan Fiction.” Interview. Audio blog post. NPR. NPR, 04 Nov. 2014.
Thomas, D. & Brown, J. (2011). A New Culture of Learning : Cultivating the Imagination for a World of Constant Change. Ebook.
Minecraft is a type of sandbox gaming. Imagine kids playing in a sandbox, occasionally interacting with each other, and sometimes playing alone. There are no rules or structure, just free play. Now imagine an electronic version of that sandbox. This is the game of Minecraft.
The purpose of Minecraft is to build shelters, and gather supplies. It is a Lego style computer-based game. There are 2 modes to this game. One is creative and the other is survival.
In creative mode, you can load up on supplies, build houses and freely walk around without the threat of danger from big spiders, creepers, skeletons with bows and arrows, and zombies. This mode is for beginners. I was most comfortable in this mode.
In survival, there are always threats of danger from encounters with various strange creatures. The best chance of staying alive is to build your shelter during the day. Stay inside at night, whenever possible. When night comes, all of the creepy crawlies come out to roam around. You are NOT safe. In survival, you must keep an eye on your food supply and health levels at the top of the screen (denoted by the hearts and chicken drumstick icons) When your food supply is low, you must gather your own food. There are farm animals to eat when necessary. Luckily, the act of killing a pig for dinner isn’t too graphic.
I played Minecraft with my two kids, ages 6 and 8, for this assignment. The gameplay experience was very fun. We giggled throughout several sessions of play. My kids were thrilled that I had joined them. We sat together and played on our individual iPads. There is something novel about staring at a screen and interacting with the people right next to you. We would message each other things like, “hey, a zombie is behind you” or “hi, mom!”
The game was not very intuitive. When I first started moving around it felt a bit awkward, and I wasn’t sure where to go or how to move. I felt like I had vertigo. After about 30 minutes, I began to get more comfortable. I let myself jump in and play, knowing that my kids would jump in to help me as needed. As explained in Gee’s “Good Video Games & Good Learning, “Players can perform before they are competent, supported by the design of the game, the “smart tools” the game offers, and often, too, the support of other, more advanced players” (p 11). My kids really watched out for me. If a zombie was coming toward me, they rushed in to save me. They would say things like “I’m on my way”, “save mom”, or “leave my mom alone” The whole experience was really endearing.
The kids enjoyed showing off their skills. My six-year old was constantly trying to help. She kept saying, “Mom, follow me”, or “look what I’m doing”. If I did follow her, she would never wait for me to catch up to her. It was the same experience with my son. They didn’t realize that mom wasn’t as skilled as they were at moving around, and had very little patience for my inexperience. If they saw that I was having trouble maneuvering the game, they would grab my iPad from my hands and play me through until they could put me into an easier spot. I laughed because I sounded just like them when I said, “Let me do it myself”.
After getting more comfortable with the game, I played alone several times after the kids went to bed. I had fun building a cobblestone house, putting flooring in and decorating it with the sparse collection of furniture available. I thought I had become proficient at the game, but had a rude awakening when I tried to go outside on my own. I could not figure out how to open the door. I flooded the inside of my house and tried to escape by jumping on the horse my son spawned. When I finally did get to safety, I couldn’t figure out how to dismount the horse. I accidentally killed the poor animal. Luckily I was able to “respawn” (bring him back to life) him. He turned out as good as new. Animals and people can respawn at any time. This respawning scenario enables risk taking, as Gee describes, “Good video games lower the consequences of failure; players can start from the last saved game when they fail. Players are thereby encouraged to take risks, explore, and try new things. In fact, in a game, failure is a good thing.” (p 6) Did you die in Minecraft? It’s okay, respawn. Your horse didn’t survive? Better luck next time. Burned down your house? Build a new one.
As expected, I didn’t have nearly as much fun playing alone. A big part of the fun comes with the interaction. “Playing games can be a solo act, but when you involve friends and family you become more engaged in the play”. (Ito, p 209) I couldn’t wait for the kids to wake up so I could show them what I accomplished.
Playing this game with my kids has made me realize that the interaction is very similar to everyday life. When they want me to see what they’ve built, they show it proudly. If one sibling knocks over the other’s horse, they bicker about it. If one goes into the other’s house uninvited, they start fuming. The sibling rivalry is still there. It’s the video game equivalent to “mom, he’s looking at me!” or “stop copying me!”
When they weren’t arguing, they really enjoyed working as a team. In one of the forests, a fire broke out. My son and daughter rushed to put out the fire, calling themselves firemen. It was very important for them to not let their buildings burn up. They worked together to put it out and save their animals. “Games encourage players to think about relationships, not isolated events, facts, and skills.” (Gee, p 9) My kids knew that they had to work together as a team to save all that they had built. They felt ownership of their creations and tried their best to save them from burning down.
Why do the kids like it? A lot of reasons. They can live however they want. They have control over their own environment. They can build a house, have pets, and jump on a boat and sail. All on their own, without permission from mom or dad. There are no rules.
This game is already used in libraries and schools as a great learning tool, to high acclaim and success. There is even an educational edition that lets teachers incorporate lesson plans into the game. This game teaches problem-solving skills and creativity. It is a highly social game that is also quite enjoyable. I will definitely play this game with my kids again. “Among “gamer parents,” the ESA (2007) says, 80 percent report that they play video games with their children, and two thirds (66 percent) say that playing games has brought their families closer together. Hanging out genres of gaming enable people to bridge different forms of gaming expertise and to cross generational and gender divides” (Ito, p 207) To my very pleasant surprise, this was a fun, relaxing way to spend some time with my kids. They were beyond thrilled that I played with them, and I can’t wait to play with them again.
It’s easy to lose track of time when playing Minecraft. I gained a better appreciation for their dilemma when I tell them to get off of their iPads for the hundredth time. I already know that they pretend they can’t hear me. Maybe next time I’ll give them a little more leeway.
Ito, M. (2009). Hanging out, Messing around, and Geeking out: Kids living and learning with new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Gee, J. Good video games and learning. University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved from: http://www.academiccolab.org/resources/documents/Good_Learning.pdf
Do you think that the experience varies when makers are creating something purely out of their own imagination versus recreating pop culture they are interested in? Why or why not?
The experience of making something from our own imagination versus something from pop culture is the same. It’s not where the ideas start that matter, but whether or not we can make it with our own hands. In Make magazine’s “Why the Maker Movement is Here to Stay” it states, “the DIY and Maker Movements… are filled with people who want to figure out how to make or do stuff on their own, rather than purchasing prepackaged goods or services.” (p.2)
The Adam Savage Maker Faire talk was very entertaining. I loved Adam’s story when he talked about wanting to be Han Solo with the Millennium Falcon. He took old refrigerator boxes, painted his closet black, and hung Christmas lights. He took something he loved about pop culture and truly made it his own. At that moment, sitting in a dark closet, he was Han Solo riding around in space on the Millennium Falcon. Boys and girls have always wanted to imitate their favorite superheroes, movie characters, dolls, and cartoon characters. This encourages hands-on play. It is the best type of play, whatever the inspiration.
Adam also mentioned that a decade ago, people could earn an engineering degree without ever having to build something. We were starting to lose our love for using our hands. Our toys kept getting smarter and did the playing for us, making us a group of playtime observers. At that point, we were too far away from a hands-on experience. Now we are getting back to our roots, working with our hands, and making things that are personal. “…the Maker Movement…gives their participants a sense of belonging to a larger spirit of building and sharing the things they’re passionate about, and expressing themselves through the things they create.” (Make, p. 4) Instead of focusing on the type of hands-on learning that is best, let’s make sure that participatory learning continues to be celebrated in our culture, no matter where the inspiration begins.
How does participating in online culture differ from participating in a physical space? How is it the same? It is human nature for people to reach out and connect with each other. Whether it is a physical embrace, a phone call, a Face Time … Continue reading Week 1 reflection blog – Mariana Sandbo