Friday, February 27, 2009

Reaction to "Digital Divide"

“Digital Divide” provided solid insight into the many topics we have been discussing up to this point in the semester. Although it showed how some students were able to excel while others failed, I do not feel as if the film truly captured the many other technological disadvantages that millions of people face oas well as it could have.

For purposes of this assignment and this course, the video did reinforce several important points from the readings and lectures. It visually represented how cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic status play an integral role in how technologically savvy an individual has the ability to be. For example, the contrast between Cedra’s technologically advanced background and successes (resulting from her father) to that of Lucia who had no background at all and her eventual struggles proves that individuals of higher class have better technological opportunities. Furthermore, Kips story makes it apparent that cultural differences also play a part in technological opportunities (racial ravine).

In addition to these points, the 4Cs are addressed during the course of the film. Through each individual, context, capability, connectivity, and content are all indirectly examined to an extent. It captures the context of each students’ learning environment and the capabilities that they do or do not have.

Despite this, I feel as if the video could have focused more on different types of context and a lot more on connectivity and capability. All of the students were attending some sort of technologically advanced school that accordingly allowed them to excel at computers more than other people might be able to.

To truly make an effective point about the digital divide, the filmmakers should have followed a few more ordinary people’s struggle to access computers and focus more on their attitudes towards the future of technology in addition to the students experiences.

I understand that they specifically addressed the digital divide and how it effects our nation’s youth but including more interviews with older individuals and more opinions from people who weren’t given the same opportunities would have made it even more influential and realistic.

Also, these individuals do not really face a connectivity or capability problem. They managed to include how Lucia faced a connectivity and capability problem because she could not afford a computer but they didn’t take note of other types of connectivity/capability problems that exist. Including examples of disadvantaged people who live in areas where Internet service isn’t available, people who live where there are no tech labs/schools in their area, or simply people that don’t know what a computer is or how to work one could have made a significant impact on exploring the digital divide.

Overall however, the video did provide us with an opportunity to see real world examples of the digital divide. I now have a better understanding of how much of an impact technology or the lack of technology has on everyone. It definitely demonstrated many aspects of the course but could have been extremely effective if additional aspects of the digital divide were considered.

Digital Divides Video - Reaction

I believe that this video was helpful in giving us a visual of the digital divide. So far we have just looked at websites online, looked at statistics and data, and read articles about people's opinions on the matter. This video showed us real world examples of people attempting to overcome the digital divide, and I believe that gave me a better understanding of the situation that presents itself.

I enjoyed listening to the stories of young kids following their dreams and taking advantage of the technological opportunities out there. I also liked that many of these kids worked to pass their knowledge onto an even younger generation, further advancing our society in technological communication and literacy.

In regards to the technology high school, I don't necessarily think that it is a good idea to put kids in a specialized school at that young of an age. It makes it more difficult for the student to gain knowledge in other subjects and display his or herself as a well-rounded individual. It may be more beneficial for the student to make use of computers as a hobby, or through a club, or something of the sort. This way, the student may get the best of both worlds: knowledge of telecommunications AND traditional school subjects.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Digital Divides Video

This week in discussion we watched a movie called Digital Divides. This movie focused our attention on youth, computers, education, and employment. I'd like you to post your initial reactions to the movie as well as provide more analysis about what this film adds to our overall class discussions. Please provide several paragraphs so that we can get a good idea of the point you'd like to make.

Some good starting points would be to compare and contrast the differing stories. We witnessed four different stories--those of Luisa, Cedra, Travis, and Kep. How do issues that we've been discussing in class relate to their stories? How can we think about their narratives in terms of racial ravines, 4Cs, or social capital? What sorts of differences allow some of them to do well but not others?

I'd also like everyone to reply to one of the responses. In particular, I'd like you to respond to a classmate that noticed something you hadn't. Was there any reason you didn't notice that particular point? Do you think about labor and race differently now because of that post?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Communities, Learning and Democracy in the Digital Age

o      Context: The authors describe the Internet as a “socio-technical network.” What does this mean?

§       According to the article “By conceptualizing the Internet as a pluralistic domain that includes the broader context in which the technical components are embedded, we explicitly connect social with technical to form the intimate interdependency of the Internet as a socio-technical network.”  So a socio-technical network is a network in which social and technical aspects are combined in a way that’s interdependent of one another.

o      Connectivity: What are some of the nuances of connectivity the authors describe?  Is it enough just to be plugged in?

§       The main nuance of connectivity the authors describe is the discrepancy that certain areas receive in their broadband signal strength.  The telecommunications act of 1996 labels high speed internet as “connection speeds above 256 kbps.”  Yet “higher connection speeds are required to effectively utilize many WWW applications in use today.”  This creates a digital divide in underserved communities because their broadband strength is insufficient to connect to programs or sites that require faster connection rates.

Capability: What is defined as “skill” in this article? Is it simply computer skills?  Or are there more needs to be addressed?

“The utility of any technology derives directly from the skill of the user as well as the delivery capacity of the local institutions, capability gauges the ability to deliever or acquire the service.”  So there is more to skills than just ability with computers because you need to consider ones capability to learn and elevate their skill set as they acquire more skills than they initially had.

o      Content: What if they built an Internet and no one came?  In other words, once we have the first three Cs, what else is necessary to get the groups the authors identified into a participatory mode in an increasingly Internet-dependent society?

§       Relevant content is necessary because it provides a forum for interacting within local communities as well as a window to the outside world.” “If content that is relevant to individuals and members of the community is not available, it will be difficult to encourage and sustain use.”  

Sarling, J. H., & Van Tassel, D. S. (1999). Community analysis: Research that matters to a north-central Denver community.

• What did researchers discover when they talked to representatives from the local school district?

The researchers talked to local principal and a school librarian about education in that area and found out there were complex problems in busing students, such as changing operation area every year. It effected on both students and parents in negative ways (makes parents tired of picking up their children, unable to join school activities for students, long bus rides).
“While the 1990 Census indicates an existing problem, those statistics so not reflect the gravity of the situation.” (p. 18)

• List some recommendations made by the researchers upon completion of their study.

They made several recommendations cover from external form to policies in that libraries.

- “We strongly recommended a continuation of the library’s visible presence begun during the Community Analysis.”
- “To counter these feelings of mistrust [feelings of residents towards library], we recommend that the design of the branch be a building with a permanent, solid… “
- “The research elicited information suggesting a variety of library policies”
(p. 21)

• With whom did they share their study, and who requested copies? Why? List some examples, both expected and unexpected.

- “The written report of our community analysis was given to all interested parties, including the City Librarian, Library Commissioners, … during our investigation”
- “copies of the report have been requested by many people including the Swansea Elementary School principal who was facing an important School Board decision, … and a regional library director who wants librarians in his area to learn how to practice community analysis.” (p. 23)

• Who is Pilar-Casto-Reino? Why is she important?

- “Almost four years after the analysis was begun, we interviewed Pilar Castro-Reino, the Outreach Librarian for the Valdez-Perry Branch of the Denver Public Library to evaluate our recommendation." (p. 24)
- From the interview, she showed how she followed the recommendation that researchers suggested, and proved the development according to the analysis result.

Putnam article

· The importance of social capital is that crime is lower when neighbors know each other

o Tangible examples of social capital: bowling club, marching band

· The “problem of leisure” came up in the 1960s

o It was defined by as “the most dangerous threat hanging over American society is the threat of leisure,” and that “Americans face a glut of leisure.”

o It was a problem because Americans were combining in numbers (at bowling leagues) and then getting their way from their public servants (like new roads, etc.)

§ People were becoming political activists

· Putnam says that the change in social interactions came from how people interacted

· “Frequent interaction among a diverse set of people tends to produce a norm of generalized reciprocity,” and “when economic and political dealing is embedded in dense networks of social interaction, incentives for opportunism and malfeasance are reduced””

o Putnam gave examples of the firefighters fundraisers that said “Come to our breakfast, we’ll come to your fire”

o People also thought that people were becoming more “trustworthy,” so they interacted more with strangers

Midterm - Japzon, A.C., & Gong, H.

Japzon, A. C., & Gong, H. (2005). A neighborhood analysis of public library use in New York City. Library & Quarterly, 75(4): 446-463. Addresses social capital issues and library branches serving communities of color in NYC.

• What main question did the researchers hope to answer with this research study?
The researchers were hoping to characterize the factors contributing to neighborhood public library use in New York City. (p450)
• What is GIS, and how and why did the researchers use it in the context of this study? Why were notions of space important?
Geographical Information System (GIS) is software that captures, stores, analyzes, manages, and presents data that refers to or is linked to location. The researchers were able to use this software to study the population characteristics in certain neighborhoods and correlate them with library usage data. Since the study focused on neighborhood branch libraries, the neighborhood characteristics (space) were important. (p451)
• What is “central-place theory”?
“Central-place theory is a location theory in geography explaining the location of consumer services such as library service. The concepts of range (the distance people travel to obtain a service) and hexagonal market area in central-place theory have often evolved into travel time of library users, distance between libraries, or size of the library market area in the studies of library accessibility.” (p448)
• How did the researchers define “neighborhoods”?
“There is a consensus that [a neighborhood] is a geographical or spatial entity with boundaries. All of a neighborhood’s attributes work together to give the neighborhood an identity, although some attributes are more important than others in doing so.” (p449)
• What were the primary findings of the study? (Big picture rather than specific stats for this)
There are several important neighborhood characteristics that contribute to library use, including race, income, education, and the spatial accessibility of the library branch location. (p460)
• What did the researchers discover about circulation statistics? What main recommendations did the researchers make?
The researchers found that “the relationship between circulation and neighborhood characteristics is nonlinear.” Thus, more funding than is proportional to their circulation numbers should be given to library branches in disadvantaged neighborhoods. (p461)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sarling & Van Tassel -

Here are answers I found for some questions regarding this Week 4 article:

What is Community Analysis?
-"a systematic process of collecting, organizing, and analyzing data about a library and its environment" (p.8)
-In this case, the community analysis was based on the CARI model as a way to study the Denver community in order to make specific recommendations concerning:  community outreach, facilities planning, library policies, staffing, collection development, and ongoing involvement.  (p.7)


-U.S Census data 
-Statistics gathered from school district of enrollment, dropout rate

-"Drive-throughs" observations
-Agency profiles
-Historical research

CARI Model
-A community research model developed by Greer and Hale, utilizing a variety of collection techniques: historical research, statistical analysis, personal interview, structured observation, etc. (p.7)

Four Perspectives of the CARI Model
1) individuals
2) groups
3) agencies
4) lifestyles

Methodologies employed by researchers (p.11)
-"Drive-throughs" performed throughout community.
-Communication agencies like radio and telephone companies were identified and examined.
-Interviews with representatives from local school district.

Tools - Data Sources used by researchers (p.11)
-1990 census data
-Yellow Pages

Neighborhoods - "Drive-throughs" (p.12)

-The three neighborhoods studied were Globeville, Elyria, and Swansea which surrounded the site of the new branch.
-Impressions of these communities were initially of poverty, heavy traffic, and industry.  Many seemed to be of Eastern European or Hispanic heritage.

-Many observations such as the toys in yards and recreation centers would have been left out had the "drive-throughs" not been done.
-These observations made the researchers look into how many children were in these in neighborhoods and where they lived. (p.13)

Koontz, C. M., Jue, D. K., & Lance, K. C. (2004).

Koontz, C. M., Jue, D. K., & Lance, K. C. (2004). Neighborhood-based in-library use performance measures for public libraries: A nationwide study of majority-minority and majority white/low income markets using personal digital data collectors.

• Circulation statistics, an easy measure to take, come back up in this article. Why are these problematic? What kinds of materials do they miss? What kinds of use and users do they miss?
- Circulation statistics are problematic because they are outdated. We need to re-evaluate the way libraries are being used in today's society. Minorities use reference services and attend library programs more often than they check out books.

• What can the outcome be of low circulation statistics?
-Libraries play a main role in low-income learning because of the services and programs that they offer to everyone for free.

• How do libraries fulfill a role in the process of lifelong learning for low-income persons?
-See above bullet-point. Low-income persons can take advantage of these offerings free of charge, and thus learn how to keep up with life in today's technologically advanced society.

• What was the stated goal of this study?
-"The project’s primary goal was to demonstrate the value of collecting alternative measures of library use and develop
standardized methodologies for collecting such data at the outlet level. There were three major questions that the collected data were designed to address:
! What are differences in library use within library markets, with special emphasis on
majority–minority and majority White/low income markets?
! What new library performance measures can be developed to capture these alternative and
different uses?
! Is it possible to develop a generalized yet customizable data collection system that can be
standardized across different public libraries?"

p. 32

• List some of the “alternative measures of library use” the researchers identified and collected usage statistics on.
-"Data Category 1: In-library use of materials
1. Material format (e.g., book, magazine, newspaper)
2. Quantity
3. Language of material (e.g., Spanish, English)
4. Circulation status (i.e., circulating, noncirculating)
5. Material type (e.g., easy, juvenile, young adult, large-print)
6. Dewey decimal (100’s and 10’s) or Library of Congress (first two letters)

Data Category 2: Library assistance data
1. Transaction type (i.e., in person, by phone, over computer)
2. Age of user (e.g., preschool, juvenile, young adult)
3. Assistance question type (e.g., travel, science project, genealogy)
4. Time to answer question (e.g., 1–5 min, 6–15 min)

Data Category 3: Observed library user activity data
1. Library location of activity (e.g., adult area, homework center)
2. User activity (e.g., reading, browsing, using computer, library program)
3. Computer software used (if applicable)
4. Number of users in activity
5. Age of user (e.g., preschool)"

p. 36

• What can these alternative measures tell library management, administrators and others about a given branch library’s use? (Think “funding.”)
-"Additional measures are also critical at a time when many public libraries are facing
budgetary constraints. In reaction to reduced funds, public libraries are merging, resiting, or
closing outlets. Available evidence indicates that actions such as merging, resiting, or
closing a public library branch disproportionately reduce access to information resources
and lifelong learning opportunities for minority and low-income groups (Chu, 1998; Hayes
& Palmer, 1983; see also Koontz, 1997, pp. 44–54)."


Libraries funds need to now be used for references services and additional library programs offered.

• What can the measures tell the librarians on-site about that library’s use by community members? (Think “services.”)
- Libraries need to develop programs and services that are accomadating to the people that use them at each specific library. That is why understanding how people are using their libraries is important.

Community Informatics: Integrating Action, Research and Learning.

We just recently talked about this in discussion last Tuesday, but I felt a refresher might be nice. =]

What is "Community Informatics"? What does it hope to accomplish?

Community Informatics is the "practice devoted to enabling communities with information and communications technologies." it is also described as a "multidisciplinary field for the investigation and development of the social and cultural factors..." p. 6 of the Ann Peterson Bishop article.

With the us of CI, one hopes to be able to understand how the knowledge is shared and shaped around a certain community. What makes them different, similar, unique needs, etc.

What is an ICT?

ICT stands for Information and Community Technology and it can be anything from the Internet, computer, etc. They support "collaboration, creativity, learning and new forms of expression and social action" p 6. In my opinion, they help bring a community closer.

Define "pragmatic technology"

The term "pragmatic" means that instead of acquiring research in a lab, one goes out and about and tries to find a solution to solve a certain problem.

CI in real-world life. Three examples:


Prairienet is a 10 year old community network that uses Web CI applications and available online. It offers various services, such as directories, human and health services information, emergency drop-in childcare, etc. They also try to establish CTC's(Community technology centers) in low-income and non-profit organizations.

Community Inquiry Lab:
The Community Inquiry Lab has produced a software called iLabs, its free and open source and can be used by anyone around the world. iLabs can be used to create websites that "support the communication and collaboration needed to pursue their inquires in classrooms, coomunity centers, libraries, etc." p. 9. It contains software for just about anything needed on the web.

Paseo Boricua:

The Paseo Boricua Community Library project's goal is to "create a distributed community inquiry whose participans come from all walks of life and in which each participant has both something to learn and something to contribute." p. 9.

They want to take care of the digital-divide and enrich library and information science with the experiences and knowledge of the community by offering unique services.

Branch Libraries: The heartbeat of the community (MIDTERM)

What were two goals local politicians and community leaders hoped to accomplish with the Near North Library's construction?

On page 38 of the article, Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Chicago Public Library hoped that the new library would encourage improvements in Cabrini Green and that it would bring together residents of two neighborhoods who had virtually no contact with one another. The library is located on the border between these two neighborhoods because both communities had been requesting a new branch.

How did the location play a role in the creation of the library?

Chicago Public Library Commissioner, Mary Demspey, was given the task to build the new library. She decided to pick a site in Cabrini that was close enough to Gold Coast that those residents would still "feel" that the library was accessible. (pg. 38) Dempsey also decided to build a large parking lot so that people who were not comfortable walking in the dangerous neighborhood would be able to drive there safely.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Putnam: Branch Libraries Heartbeat of Community

- The collections and services of the Near North Branch reflect the needs and interests of the community and change with it. There are meeting rooms, local artwork to reflect the community, workshops addressing the needs of local people, book clubs, and even a local African American history exhibit. (p. 36-40)

- The planners wanted to create a community anchor, to try and change the surrounding communities, especially Cabrini Green, in a positive way by bringing them together and sparking interaction. (p. 38)

- They wanted to make sure community members from Gold Coast community would feel safe going to the library and that the Cabrini Green residents wouldn't face any physical or psychological barriers that would feel as if they weren't as welcome to use the library.

-Librarians made rounds of the local schools reading stories, not only to advertise the assets of the library, but also to make social connections so the kids felt as if they were part of the library and welcome to its many programs and activities, and that the library was an integral and active part of the community. (p. 40)

-Gentrification is the tearing down of low income housing and replacing it with middle to high class developments. The new library was a sign of positive change, and this sparked other developments to better the surrounding area, which eventually lead to the eviction of many Cabrini residents and the area becoming more middle-class, which is good in terms of community development but at the same time decreasing its diversity. (p.42)

-The Humboldt Park branch has an extensive collection of spanish language materials, combined the children's and adult sections so those at all reading levels felt comfortable, and fishing poles to further stimulate community interaction with the nearby lake. Uptown has a large southeast asian population so they have books in Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Chinese and also have bamboo plants throughout the library. (p.45)

-According to the authors the library serves as a third place by functioning as a community center where a community finds its identity and where people create social networks. It allows people to meet face to face through book discussions, readings, classes, homework help after school, clubs, etc. Its a place where you can discover what is happening in the neighborhood.

Race and Place

-The features of the "yellow place" were mostly of negative connotation, with anti-theft bars, very little reading space, early closing hours, and non-interactive or inviting staff members. (p. 31)
-The features of the "white cathedral" on the other hand were the opposite, with it being very large, a more complete and inviting atmosphere (i.e. lots of books, nice chairs, etc.). They also had a very intuitive and friendly staff. (p. 31 - 32). 
-In term of barriers there was an obvious logistical one in the sense that the "white cathedral" was a significant distance away which wasn't walkable, but psychologically the author experienced a feeling as if she didn't belong, like the library wasn't for people like her. (p. 32). After visiting this new library she no longer felt as if her yellow library could compare or was even worth it anymore, and stopped going there all together.
-Hall was writing this article to all of us in a way, to show us how something that is supposed to bring a community together can actually segregate it and discriminate against certain types of people. She wants people to realize that these "social institutions" are crucial in bringing communities together and breaking down barriers, and that if they create barriers themselves, it will only have a negative effect on the community. I think she also tries to make other librarians realize that they should feel particularly responsible for shouldering the burden of making sure libraries reach out to all those in the community and bring people together.

LIS 202 Study Guide Post

This week will be used to prepare for the exam.

A study guide will be distributed later this week, and your online blogging assignment this week is to choose one part of it and answer a question for your peers. As others fulfill this assignment, try to choose something someone else hasn't answered. The test preparation will be much more effective if it covers a broader set of questions.

Cite page numbers, too! Part of good scholarship is allowing others to check your work. Be kind, and be as specific as you can about how and where you are getting your answers.

To keep this all organized, please respond in the comments to this post.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bonding & Bridging Social Capital

From the "Bowling Alone" article, Putnam describes Bonding and Bridging Social Capital on page 22 and 23. Combined from this article and lecture notes, I have created rough definitions of both types that Putnam identified. 

Bridging Social Capital--> Social networks or groups that are heterogeneous and focus on differences of the individuals within. These are inclusive groups that are open to a wider variety of people and provide a sociological WD-4D. While these groups are more accepting, they are harder to achieve, simply because they exist upon differences rather than similarities. Examples are the Civil Rights Movement and Youth Groups that focus on bringing children of different backgrounds together. 

Bonding Social Capital--> Social networks or groups that are homogenous and focus on similarities of the individuals within. These are exclusive groups that narrow a smaller group of people and provide a sociological super-glue. People in Bonding groups are more likely to have the same background, experiences, ethnicities, etc. Examples are Ethnic Fraternities or Sororities, Religious Groups, Country clubs, etc. 

Social Capital

This is question 1 for "Bowling Alone" off of the study guide Prof. Whitmire emailed out last night.

Social Capital: What is this? Can you define it?

social capital is "developing networks of relationships that weave individuals into groups and communities"

This topic was covered in lecture on Tuesday, January 27 (which is where the above quotes are taken from) and appears on page 19 of the article, which is the first one in our reader.

The article describes social capital as:

"connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them. In that sense social capital si closely related to what some have called "civic virtue." The difference is that "social capital" calls attention to the fact that civic virtue is most powerful when embedded in a dense network of reciprocal social relations. A society of many virtuous but isolated indivuduals is not necessarily rich in social capital."

Social capital, as shown in the article, emphasizes how our lives are made more productive by social capital.