On a slow afternoon at the circulation desk a few weeks ago, a teacher spotted me with a book and asked if I was reading for a class. “Just for fun,” I answered without thinking, and she smiled. “I’m so envious. I wish I had the time to read like that!”

I just couldn’t get this interaction out of my head. At first I thought it was the implication that independent reading time is some kind of luxury, something librarians have and classroom teachers want. You know, because teachers have real jobs, and I sit around reading all day.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it was my end of the conversation that was bothering me. Just for fun? Was that really why I was reading a book about the history of American intervention in Afghanistan?

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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

This was a question asked by curious listeners to Henry Jenkins discussion in Second Life on the pedagogical potential of video games and other digital media. The full audio (38 minutes) is definitely worth listening to here, or watching the short YouTube video here, especially to hear the music interspersed on the dance floor by teen DJ Alpha Z. Also, check out his new book: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide.


How do we expand the educational process by using video games? We need to value what goes in in game spaces

He sites an example of students that were playing Doom and Quake and learning a great deal of how to manage people, teamwork, collaboration and leadership-similar traits that sports teams practice and learn-yet this kind of online participation is not valued as much.

Youth are learning how to be part of a community through technology, how to care about issues, express their opinions, and find out what is taking place in the world around them.

Video games and especially platforms such as Second Life, provide roles and goals for learning and information to act upon. Using virtual worlds or games to think through the experience of being a city planner, historian, environmental scientist helps one to use the information in a new way and helps to structure knowledge.

Second Life, is emerging as an important space for people doing a lot of important things. It is as diverse as the real world itself and people are able to try things they could never do in the real world in the same way such as create new connections, reinvent the economy, and imagine new governments.

Continue to look for battles over who owns our culture. These decisions are going to determine how much we can participate in the communities that we do.

Jenkins says that we need to use games to re-engage reality-not just escape it. The origin of science fiction was to help average people make sense of technology changes taking place around them. Popular culture and education, sorting out and speculation, has always been a part of science fiction.

So many questions and application for libraries:

How can we as librarians expand the educational process through video games? How are we doing this already?

Are we valuing online participation through our policies and practices? How can we value it better? How can we get comfortable with what is ‘worth’ holding valuable?

How can we create more opportunities for youth to be part of an online community?

How will battles of who owns culture play out in our libraries and how can we inform the youth we interact with about this?

posted by Kelly Czarnecki

Join author Henry Jenkins, to hear him talk about “We’re not playing around here!: The pedagogical potential of computer and video games.”
A live audio stream will be set up in Second Life on the New Media Consortium (NMC) Campus in the Huntley Ballroom. The lecture starts at 3pm sl time (PST) Wednesday, December 20. Stop by an hour before to show your moves on the virtual dance floor.

For more information, see: http://www.nmc.org/sl/2006/12/14/jenkins/

Sign up for a free account on www.secondlife.com and teleport to the NMC campus.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki

In a May 2006 interview on DOPA and MySpace with Henry Jenkins and danah boyd, Jenkins states that, “Parents face serious challenges in helping their children negotiate through these new online environments. They receive very little advice about how to build a constructive relationship with media within their families or how to help their offspring make ethical choices as participants in these online worlds.”
At my library, my colleagues are offering a ‘MySpace for Parents‘ class where they teach parents how to set up their own MySpace account, and what to look for when their teens set up their own page. They also include resources in the workshop for further reading and information on other social networking sites the library uses.

What are other libraries doing to help parents help their teens ‘negotiate these online environments’? Or any ideas of what else we could be doing? Even if DOPA passes, parents will still need to know this information.

Posted by Kelly Czarnecki