Youth and mobile networks, and heuristical knowledge
For the past little while I've had this idea forming in my head that I'm starting to get a bit excited about. It's coming from a number of different directions.
I'm curious about the influence and effects of two broad groups who are using networked mobile technology: the millennial generation of North America and also the recently-educated proto-middle-class youth of economies that have suffered greatly in the recent banking crises (both those of the middle-east and north Africa (who triggered the Arab Spring) and also those of Mediterranean Europe whose economies have had long-lasting damage from the banking crashes) (See Networks of Outrage and Hope
. I think these two different groups, perhaps in different ways, will change the definition of information and the expectations for knowledge curation and transfer because they are maturing with what might be called a heuristic
, possibly even tribal, understanding of how their use of the network affects what they know and how they transfer that knowledge. Amelia Acker's recent blog post
(of which my comment there is a part of this little article) made me think a bit harder about it.
I've been reading Antifragile by Nassim Nicholas Taleb (http://www.fooledbyrandomness.com/) and Taleb's ideas about bottom-up knowledge being more robust than fragile algorithms have helped this idea start to crystallize (in my head, at any rate). He thinks that bottom-up, generational knowledge is time-tested and understood (and applied) heuristically and gives it the ability to withstand challenges of volatility (Antifragile p.88). I should say that knowledge is only one part of the theses of Antifragile and time is not one of the factors in the cases I'm thinking about. In fact, it seems to me the bottom-up knowledge generated by the groups I've described above, and traded and taught among themselves (in the heuristic way that Taleb suggests) is an important example that shows how mobile connectivity is changing our information sphere as we speak.
There's lots of nuances to work out with this idea and you can see I haven't quite thought it all through yet but I hope the connection for librariy sciences is apparent. In fact, I think there's a big implication here for libraries, but also for education institutions (both schools and universities) and even the substantive information and knowledge functions of subject-based government departments. I think we're in the sunset of the age where access to knowledge content was institutionally controlled. The two youthful, connected groups are using information that is network controlled and the context is in network (I think of context as analogous to Acker's description of the "traces" of transmision) and can NOT be tied into an institutional context. These uses of the mobile networks, and the governmental and corporate responses to perceived threats about that use, are completely outside how major institutions serve an (ostensibly) stable society.