Connecting People with (Information or Technology)?

So I’m not going to say much about the fact that I haven’t written anything since January. Suffice it to say that enough has been going on to keep me from taking time to post thoughts from the swirling maelstrom in my head. For the two readers that have managed to hang on, let’s hope I can get more consistent again. (Unless I write crap, of course. No one wants that) With that out of the way, I wanted to write a bit about a new experience. After a six year reprieve, I have returned to academia to pursue my Masters Degree. Two weeks ago, I started the Library and Information Science program at the University of Denver and will pursue the Knowledge Management concentration. Three weeks ago, I had my orientation for the program. Since this is a Library Science degree, a good deal of the content in the orientation was library-specific (jobs, internships, other foci of the program). I must admit that as a software developer and IT person, I wanted to distance myself from this kind of talk because I wasn’t there to learn how to be a librarian (condescending and conceited, I know). But at one point in the conversation, the director of the program said this:

As Librarians, our job is to connect people with information

And I thought this:

Wait a minute, that sounds like my job as an IT person…

Or not. I realized at that moment that Librarians have a better handle on what Information Technology is all about than most IT people do. Think about it: Librarians do connect people with information. The format, presentation, color and flavor are simply a means to an end. Librarians will argue at length about how the architecture, structure and layout of a particular library is pitiful, passable or peculiar, but only in the context of how it hinders or enables the goal of a connecting people with information. In theory, we should be about the same thing in IT. But as a software developer, I know that that is often not the case. IT has unfortunately morphed into a group of professionals connecting people with technology, not information. I say this because we spend the majority of our time talking in technology terms, rather than information terms. We rave about frameworks and widgets and architectures and IDEs and all the clever things that we can make an application do, and in the shuffle, we neglect the people and their need for the information that our applications are in existence to work with. It’s high time that we get back to our information roots. And thus, I remembered why I wanted to pursue this degree in the first place. And I felt good about saying “I’m in graduate school to become a librarian.” Chances are, I will never work in a library, nor leave technology. But the Information Technology world (and the web in particular) needs more librarians. And that’s why I am there.

  • http://robfay.com/ Rob Fay

    Brandon,

    Congrats on your new pursuit! And, again, thanks for the recent connection with your company.

    I too experienced some of the same feelings when working towards my degree. My program was new, yet housed alongside the library science program that had been in place for 40 years (and I’m told it’s a very good program). Needless to say, I reminded myself that I chose the program because I wanted to focus on that “connecting” aspect, as well as to focus on the “I” in IT. Technologies come and go, and although I wish I accrued software development skills, I realized my skill was (and is) “connecting people with information.”

    Bes sure to post more because I want to learn more about knowledge management and all the other things you’ll be learning. Again, congrats!

  • http://www.userinexperience.com/ TheSatch

    Thanks Rob, I appreciate the comment. As things wind down a bit more (I just spent all weekend on a paper), I hope to spend some more time commenting on what I am learning and synthesizing some of these new (to me) ideas.

  • http://robfay.com/ Rob Fay

    One book that I would like to recommend that got me juiced in the program was Thomas Davenport’s Information Ecology: Mastering the Information and Knowledge Environment. It’s a relatively quick read, but solidified my interest in the program.