ALA: Day 1

Day One was really a half day for me, because I went to work in the morning and then attended an OCLC program:

Friday Symposium: Gaming and the Significance for Information Literacy Learning
How can you improve library service in the tech-centric, personalized, branded world of instant information? The dialogue begins with a definition of gaming and will move to the experience society and the library as the “third place.”

So there were five speakers, two academics who are researching in the area of gaming, a person from webjunction, and John C. Beck , and a librarian from Santa Monica Public Library who hosted LAN parties.

The acedemics went first, (Kurt Squire and Constance Steinkuehler from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For me, this was the most interesting part of the presentation, even though I was aware of some of the issues they raised before.

Discussion of MMOGs, what they are and how players communicate.

Discussion of virtual economies being the size of Bulgaria’s economy, secondary market on Ebay for gaming accounts, materials so there is real world value to gaming.
Gaming is a push technology and a place to observe what people are doing with different types of information. People get together to problem solve and collaborate, and they can use different types of information, official information put out by the company that produces the game but also use fandom generated information. Reference to a study where players spend 3-4 hours away from the game researching the game on message boards, building fan sites, etc for every hour spent in game.

The linguistics of text talk! Players have their own language, community, and identity. Players spend time teaching newbies by modeling behavior, reinforcing shared values (how to be a good elf, and hunt for mithral without getting killed).
The problem solving cycle involved in planning a seige in Lineage. 1) recon 2) strategy 3) practice 4) prep 5)debrief
In planning this, players are masters of multitasking as they may talk to each other over the internet AND instant message AND have a window open to the game AND be looking at a fan site at the same time.
They view information as a tool for action.

Powershift with fandom/open source information, eg rumor sites for TV shows vs official information. Mention of Wikipedia and Google Scholar. Should people try to publish in official peer reviewed journals or just put the information online where it will get a larger audience? Prof Squire goes to blogs to find out what is new first instead of doing a literature search.

What to do about this in the library?

Support new models of learning. Create a knowledge building community and allow for networks of affiliation. Support knowledge production from students. Need to negotiate power dynamics, official vs unofficial sources of information. Think about social disruption involved. If you create a character, who owns it?

Webjunction. This part of the program seemed a little out of place and more like an ad for the service. Talk was on the idea of webjunction as a “third place” for library staff but seemed to center around how cool they were. Not trying to be snarky, I’m sure that the webjunction people are cool and nifty but my attention was wandering.

Lan parties at the public library — tons of boys showed up to play Counterstrike. They got pizza and candy. Kids were lined up out the door and down the street hours before the first party. Very sucessful. Some kids who came to the LAN parties ended up joining the teen advisory council. Other programming events developed included anime club, poetry slams, etc.
Sounds like fun!

John Beck presented some of the research presented in his book, very much geared to a business audience but a couple asides trying to relate things to libraries. Focused very much on the personality of gamers, their beliefs and attitudes and what it means when you work with them. If people are interested in this section let me know, and I can type up my notes later.

So what does this mean for information literacy? I dunno, most of the presentation focused on the habits and mindset of gamers. No one suggested creating a MMOG information literacy game, which is a good thing. Some of the speakers said librarians should be like strategy guides.
I think that some of the things highlighted about collaborative information and the informal fan based networks people form were interesting. Libraries aren’t really doing much to give people a sense of ownership of the library space in terms of enabling them to contribute to an evolving community or a collection of collective knowledge.