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First Fall 2010 Post

August 27, 2010

Just a quick note on the state of things for the class. I’ve made upgrades to the course site per student suggestions and I think it’s cool to get that sort of feedback. If any of you can think of other enhancements or alterations, feel free to let me know as I use AJAX techniques for the site that make the coding fun and fast from my end. This process (having users define the user experience) is something we will return to later in the course and touch on in the sections covering usability and human computer interaction (HCI).

One other topic that I find hard to teach is: “just what we are learning in this class?” Let me explain: the range of topics and technologies is so huge that this class can easily degenerate into a bad imitation of those humanities survey courses where 300 students sit in an amphitheater and listen to a professor run through centuries of English literature or European art history. I see our goal as this: to expose the machinery behind the Internet and display that machinery in such a way that it makes the student a better LIS professional. A big part of our profession is the “publishing” business. Books, mags, journals, audio and video content are what we have traditionally “collected” when doing our jobs. Now the Internet makes everyone a potential publisher! When we made our first “hello.html” file on Wednesday night, we really did say Hello, world! to the world because it was published to the entire planet at the stroke of a key. There really is no way to over-emphasize the importance of this fact and what this fact means to our profession.

Every time you put a file on the senna server’s public directory, you are a publisher. Consider the impact of how doing that with free software and dirt cheap machines (I’m typing this on a used HP machine that I bought for about $200 from ) with all free software (I use Ubuntu Linux when not in Elluminate). The Internet is truly a “power to the people” thing. As LIS professionals we are dedicated to the free and open access to information to all members of our community…the Internet makes it “free and open” and emphasizes the “all” in a way not before known to humanity. So, when I referred to the wonders of the hidden world of technology on the course page, I wasn’t trying to make it seem more important than it is, because that can’t be done.

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