ACRL 2011 – Tiffany Shlain Keynote

Tiffany Shlain is the first keynote for ACRL (Association of College & Research Libraries) 2011 Conference. They screened her new film, Connected earlier today, but I missed that.

Naturally we started with all the usual welcomes and whatnot, which included a screening of the video contest winner (Strozier Library).

What does it mean to be connected in the 21st Century?

Thinks about it as a mom, early adopter, friend, wife, etc. Excited, worried. Will the technology help us think about how issues are collected, instead of thinking about them all in isolation?

Crazy influx of data from every direction! She thinks we’re (librarians & info techs) on the “forefront of aggregating & curating all this information” Moving too quickly to think about where the technology is taking us. Can we help?

She was a nerd with a modem, dialing into the library. With a friend, wanted to connect with students around the world. Wrote a proposal & sent to Sen. Barbara Boxer. Invited to go to the Soviet Union at 18 to speak about it! Grew up & worked in IT to support her filmmaking.

[Ed. Note: She knows how to do powerpoint, great use of stills & video.]

Lots of experiments with facebook & educational engagement with first film (The Tribe) about American Jewish identity. Got a grant to create a curriculum so it can be used worldwide in educational settings. She made a kit and six years later, it doesn’t need her anymore. Has “all my energy and love in it.” Film combined with internet and tools for educators — give people tools. Exciting!

The Moxie Institute: educational institute for the 21st century — films that will make you laugh (no earnest documentaries), laughter is empowering — she did a funny film about reproductive rights. Make you laugh & then tell you something heavy, the laughter opens you up to feeling & thinking.

Being linear & focused is not natural – does working online mirror our natural state more often? Multiple tabs, programs, following the rabbit, etc? Or too distracting & overwhelming? Changing the way we behave & exist.

We go deep with information — society as a whole is going shallow? Yes? No? (See also: book, The Shallows).

Seriously, how did we get through life before we could call people four times from the grocery store to check what we needed? etc. Showed a clip from Connected — oxytocin & dopamine. Taking a technology break — important to be present with your family. Film for the National Day of Unplugging: Yelp.

Twitter: you have to distill an idea down to its essence.

Talks about The Alphabet vs The Goddess — sounds like a great book.

Asks the audience: Will everything be online someday? Doesn’t look like we think so, I know I don’t. Copyright restrictions, and funding issues for scanning archival materials. How many of you contribute to Wikipedia? Very few of us. This concerns her. She was hoping we’d be fact checking it, hehe.

Literacy: if you don’t know how to read and there’s text-to-speech that can reliably read it to you? Very empowering. Likewise closed captioning for hard of hearing & deaf. website: dotSUB, translation stuff, kind of a wiki thing apparently? Smartphone app that does instant translation using your camera, really? Wow.

Cool thing someone should invent: an app that could help you find out interesting things about strangers you meet at conferences — icebreakers, hey we just read the same book last week, etc.

Technology is helping us connect ourselves to each other and to the issues we care about. We’re starting to look for the links – we’re trained to do it.

Most of her films are from archival footage. Used to have to dig through bins, now she can search online. “It’s all online now!” Crowd laughs, we know better. Lots of it is still in cold storage (hopefully).

Aaaand she gets a note from backstage to finish up and leave time for Q&As. She thinks we play an important role in helping guide folks through the maze of information.