Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Libraries; moving from passive to active

"Libraries have compensated for this shift by redefining their mission around providing access to new technologies. The slow invasion of computer clusters that has defined the past two decades of library design serves an important purpose, but that mission, too, now seems increasingly redundant. Already, three-quarters of Americans access the Internet at home, with both broadband and mobile access rising steadily, particularly among younger people. It seems unlikely that providing on-site public access to online media will be a compelling justification for funding brick-and-mortar libraries even a decade from now."

"Across the United States, librarians have been experimenting with ways of expanding on this newly elaborated mission—for instance, by opening so-called “maker spaces” in annexes and areas where bookshelves have been cleared out. A throwback to the mechanic’s library of the 19th century, maker spaces collect old and new technologies, from sewing machines to 3-D printers, and encourage patrons to develop and share skills that cannot be practiced over the Internet. "

what's happening with your local library?  Is it embracing social media?  Turning from passive information storage to resourcing innovative creation?  Does your community support your library?  Do you care?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"Economic growth" is a problem, not a solution

"Other studies suggest we are approaching real limits to the availability of numerous basic resources necessary to economic advancement. No technological quick fix is going to change the fact that our finite planet has definite limits. And the more we grow, the more we begin to trip over them, in an increasingly chaotic and interconnected fashion. The energy business and its deleterious impact on the environment are only the most obvious of many examples: The trajectory of the hydrocarbon industry toward costly and carbon-intensive tar-sand extraction and extreme deep-water drilling now makes “sense” from the perspective of a market that has exploited most easily available energy deposits and ignores the consequences of its actions with impunity. Meanwhile, hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is pouring more carbon into the air while depleting dwindling aquifers and destroying the very rock formations that some had hoped might be available to sequester excess carbon. The planet cannot sustain this type of growth, but the economy, we are told, commands it.
This is a problem. Our national political debate is so constrained that accelerated growth is presumed to be the necessary precondition for broad prosperity. We’re told the only way to help the 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty is to keep enlarging the pie until everyone has a big enough slice. But is this worth it if we lose Miami in the process? A rising tide used to lift all boats, but now it just drowns our cities. A genuine alternative instead of attempting to press beyond the limits we face would distribute the fruits of our technological and economic prowess away from those at the top and toward the vast majority."

We need a new economic theory.