the poor and tech training and gaming

The Library Link of the Day today is an article in the Chicago Tribune called Training for the Poor Moves into the Computer Age. It’s an odd combination of two points

1. The digital divide is becoming more and more about technology literacy and not about technology access.
2. Gaming on computers is an important part of attaining that technology literacy.

I don’t know much about point #2. I like games generally but I am not a gamer (save online Scrabble which I suspect may not count). With a few exceptions most of the people I hang out with aren’t gamers so I’ve rarely been in a cultural area that is gaming-immersive. I’m curious, but it’s one of those things that falls outside the “things I have time for” circle. Jenny Levine has some good points in the article and I think the fact that ALA is mentioned in the same article as poor people needing technological literacy for finding better jobs and escaping the cycle of poverty is great PR for libraries.

That said, the article is confusing to me somewhat. It seems to be taking two disparate ideas and mashing them together as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I get the points that gaming and teaching technology through gaming is a great way to help kids with critical thinking skills and problem solving. However I strongly do not think that the best way to help older people — perhaps my age and up — learn technology has anything to do with gaming at all. So, the people who are in dead-end jobs and need to gain some level of tech proficiency to move to better jobs, they’re not the gaming demographic. I think, however, that as more younger people engage with technology they will bring gaming with them as they become people in my age bracket and that’s going to be an interesting shift. So, kudos for even talking about poverty and technology literacy, and nice job with xplaining why gaming is important, but I still wish this had been two separate (longer) articles instead of this one.

viewer mail: gaming in libraries & deepfreeze

I got this from a reader. I know when I am out of my league but I bet some readers here will have good insight and/or advice. If you can help out my librarian friend here, please leave a note in the comments.

Do you have any thoughts/comments re: on line gaming in the public library? You know, I thought we were all set with installing Deep Freeze on the machines–sure, let the anyone download anything, restart the computer and “poof” it’s all back to it’s original state.

But then the YAs started playing “Gunz” and our new Dell is flipping out –multiple windows opening, can’t even type in a web address, cannot get Deep Freeze to “thaw”.

I feel frustrated–I really don’t want to be this negative librarian posting “no gaming” signs, albeit in a positive manner.

Any experiences along this line? Whaddya think about allowing anything to be downloaded? I really am questioning Deep Free’s strength at this moment.

games and libraries and personal librarianship

I’m not a gamer, or a parent or roommate of a gamer, so I’ve been only lightly scanning the gaming in libraries discussions that have been going around. However, reading Jenny’s recent [and popular] post about a gaming conference she went to, made me think more about games. Her phrase “embedded librarian” — though maybe a bit too reminiscent of wartime endeavors — definitely piqued my interest. It’s a concept that is applicable to many sorts of “outside the box” librarianship, from Radical Reference to freelance information brokers to simple “outside the building” outreach initiatives. My assertion has always been that everyone has a use for their own librarian from time to time. I have even been known, after solving particularly vexing information problems in my day to day life, to say “Who’s your librarian? I am right? A librarian solved that problem for you” I’m sure it makes me somewhat insufferable, but to keep the profession alive, we’ve all got to be poster children for the things we do, at work or elsewhere.