VALA – thoughts on the Tuesday morning keynote

I attended VALA 2012 for one day – the Tuesday 7th.  The program is here. The morning keynote was Jason Griffey – the presentation is viewable here. I asked a question near the end about privacy and social control. Griffey addressed the privacy part of my question but was brief over the social control aspect. It is true that people can control to some extent, how much they reveal about themselves online. However, once it is out there, all sorts of uses can be made of the information. A recent review of Consent of the Networked republished in The Guardian addresses some of my concerns – one of them being surveillance by western governments and corporations. This issue isn’t something that librarians should be ignorant of.  The other thing that struck me was that the proliferation of technology and data caputuring tools means a lot of useless information is floating about. And isn’t it also worrying when needed resources are being used to feed these fads? I’m all for useful technology – but a flat touch screen computer that can act as a window with closeable blinds that also tells you if there is a line at the local cafe for coffee … is that necessary? What about sensor devices that tell you when the washing-machine has stopped or if someone has opened the fridge? I don’t dismiss these technologies out of hand – sensors are being investigated as possible technologies to prevent falls in hospitals and in environments were the frail elderly reside. The ageing population is a growing social issue and although technology is being used most by people in the 18-19yr age bracket, this is one of the smallest brackets and demographics such as the 60-70yr age bracket are rising in tech use. I also don’t appreciate the thought that someone would force me to accept a technology when I see no use for it in my day to day life, working or at home (G believes in forcing technology laggards to accept technology).  I do agree that privacy has to be redefined though, and that is something we as librarians will have to work on.

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