The Internet IS a Toaster

About a dozen years ago I was a part of a presentation in which my co-presenter told audience members about her discussions with the college students with whom she worked in which she would say, “The internet IS NOT a toaster.” By that she meant that at that time using the Internet was not as simple and easy as putting a piece of toast into a toaster, pushing the button, and then having a perfect piece of toast pop out in just a few minutes.

After 12 years I’d say that for most of the teens with whom we work, the internet IS a toaster. Why? Because it’s a part of day-to-day life and has been for the entire lifespan of anyone who is currently a teen, or younger. The internet to a teen is no different than a toaster, or a refrigerator, or any other appliance that gets used every day. And, it’s not just the internet, technology, web 2.0, ereaders, Twitter, Facebook, etc. is a toaster for the teens with whom librarians work.
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Virtual Worlds are big with teens

“By mingling aspects of video gaming, social networking and communicating, virtual worlds have appeal for both genders and are an intriguing opportunity for those marketing to kids and teens,” according to eMarketer. What might this mean for libraries? We usually want to be a popular place for teens to hang out whether it’s a physical or virtual space. How might we market our services in virtual worlds? Teens could create a machinima PSA for a program or event. The library guild could be started by the IT manager. We could run our writer’s groups in Gaia Online.

I find the question at the end of the article interesting, “What if a person’s virtual activities have no bearing on their real-world activities?” I bet if we get to know a teen long enough that’s in a virtual world often, we’ll find many ways that their virtual activities are part of their real world activities. For example, I know a teen that is going to approach his library council to be more involved in a virtual world because of his own involvement. That’s great advocacy!

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Mashup 2007

A few weeks ago, I was able to go to San Francisco to attend YPulse’s first Mashup. The name of the conference was such because it brought together people that normally might not be together at a conference-non-profits, for-profits, media, education, and more. Representatives from Gaia and Claudia Linden with Teen Second Life to a teen panel/owners of such sites as My Yearbook, Scriptovia, Emo Girl Talk, and Whateverlife. Some familiar faces such as Henry Jenkins, Anne Collier co-author of MySpace Unraveled, and Amanda Lenhart with Pew Internet & American Life Project who focuses on teen reports were there as well.

A common thread aside from reaching youth with technology and understanding how they use it so that we can connect more, is that teens are so diverse. While that might sound obvious, being a conference about technology, one might think that every teen uses technology in the same way-and the conference didn’t puport that at all. Teens themselves said many times that they were a diverse group, and when trying to market to them or get their attention, it’s important to remember that. Look for the Tween Mashup at the end of September in NY with organizations such as Whyville and topics such as, “How to market to tweens and be COPPA compliant” and “Are tweens still reading books and magazines and watching TV?”. Anastasia Goodstein with YPulse, opens up the communication lines in ways that will help teens, tweens, and us as professionals talk what we need to talk about; how to connect with each other better.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Lonelygirl15 – telling a story

Lonelygirl15 calls herself ‘Bree’ and has been leaving posts on YouTube since May to share different things about her life with viewers such as complaining about her parents or talking about her relationship with Daniel. Recently, tracking software set up by fans of lonelygirl15 found that the posts might have been part of a marketing campaign and ‘Bree’ wasn’t really who she pretended to be.

Turns out the marketing campaign was really a group of friends that wanted to tell a story-“A story that could only be told using the medium of video blogs and the distribution power of the Internet. A story that is interactive and constantly evolving with the audience.”

What about promoting programs through YouTube in a way that is a lead-in to something that might not be expected at your library? Keep them guessing and intrigued. Have teens create short videos to post on YouTube and create an interest in story telling and encourage interaction. What might that look like? Music in lonelygirl15’s videos alerted viewers of a local band that happened to be in town or ‘Bree’ would respond to viewers posts by making cookies they suggested. Great potential for promoting Teen Read Week or Teen Tech Week this way. Or even promoting storytelling and interactivity.

These ideas remind me of the article written by Erin Helmrich of Ann Arbor Public Library-
“What Teens Want: What Libraries Can Learn From MTV”, Young Adult Library Services (Spring 2004): 11-13 which is about learning how to integrate pop culture into publicity and promotions to teens.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki