Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"Me, My Space and Eye"

Alane Wilson, OCLC
Privacy, Security, Social Networks and Library

from a study of security in online networking sites by OCLC to be released in June - 6100 participants from 6 countries, plus a separate survey of 380 UA librarians. Statistics not available until June, but this session gave an overview of the conclusions.

"we must live and work in a tapestry of privacy" - A Tapestry of Privacy: a Metadiscussion" by Richard Mason - http://cyberethics.cbi.msstate.edu/mason2/

I expected this session to be about preserving privacy online - instead it was about how expectations of privacy are changing in the social networking environment.

First about us - librarians belong to the "culture of paper" - we read from print sources far more than the general population - we also use our own Q&A service much more than the general population - we are much less likely to chat, blog, IM, etc. - our tribe is not in sync with the young population.

Librarians over 50 are much less likely to use social networking tools.

Public libraries are far more heavily used than any other type - publics need to to be creating social networking communities. MySpace is the primary teen hangout in the US, YouTube is ubiquitous, the "annotation of everything" is in progress, and networking is central to 21st century education.

Howard Reingold - guru of communities and smart mobs - http://www.rheingold.com/

Privacy - myspace, flickr, all the networking sites leaves "digital footprints" that will not go away - Privacy issues are important for librarians because our perception of privacy may not be as nuanced and complex for us as for younger internet users - most librarians would prefer not to leave a "digital trail" - younger internet users may not feel this way.

The survey found huge cultural differences in need for privacy - for instance, Japanese say they would never share religous beliefs or sexual preferences - librarians pretty much are more conservative than Japanese, are very adverse to giving out information on social networking sites. But - libraries have a high level of community trust, which gives libraries a good opportunity to acheive community credibility through a commitment to privacy.

The survey asked - is it the library's role to build a social networking site? - in the US, 60% of US respondants said "NO" - in Europe the percentage is higher. On respondant said - "libraries are in the business of providing access to books not access to other people" - - comments of librarians are even more negative- but is this because this is early days in the social networking scene - will we be obsolete unless we can get on board with new technology?

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