Thursday, September 18, 2008

generational myths

Siva Vaidhyanathan has a great article in The Chronicle Review entitled "Generational Myth." Siva and I first met through our online discussion of this topic -- I very strongly agree with him on this issue.

Lorcan Dempsey posted about a couple of blog posts by Andy Powell and Dave White about their takes on this issue. Dave's proposed "Resident" and "Visitor" categories and his acknowledgment of the spectra of behaviors that these categories represent is a well-considered take on how libraries might better understand styles of learning of distance students in particular. I'm obviously not a fan of human categorization -- people are notoriously hard to pigeonhole. But I think these are actually more akin to personas than categories, like those that you'd develop as an exercise when designing a new online service. Not unerringly accurate, but not without usefulness. It's certainly supplements the often simplistic thinking about our users as "faculty" or "graduate students" or "undergraduates" or "the public."

I also strongly recommend Janna Brancolini's blog Generation Underrated, her response to Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30). Check out what someone under 30 has to say, who also happens to be the daughter of a digital librarian.

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