Saturday, February 28, 2009

Movie Response: Prompt 1

What were some of the other issues influencing the trajectory of these young people?

Travis: He was coming from a town in Texas where only about a fourth of the kids go to college so he was surrounded by people who weren't really on a set career path. Also, he was forced to move schools which distanced him from his friends and he felt that he had to play a variety of different roles in his house (with his sister, mom, and sister's kids). Most kids his age only feel they need to fulfill one role, so that probably resulted in extra outside pressures for him. At the end too, he got really unlucky and his computer didn't work for his final senior presentation. That is one thing I hate about the new wave of technology, technology can be so unreliable! I'm glad he was able to graduate but the fact that he couldn't go to college because of money is really unfortunate. I think that is one of the hugest problems in our country. There are so many smart kids that are willing to go to college and really want to but are disadvantaged financially and that is really discouraging for them. Finding a job straight out of high school that is going to support you enough and allow you to earn money to eventually go to college is asking a lot, and in today's world seems almost impossible.

Kep: I think the biggest issue in Kep's life was his feeling of separation from this country. He experienced life on the outside as an immigrant and was forced to balance three different languages, come from family where half of the people had at some point been in refugee camps, and probably didn't have very much money (because he hadn't been exposed to computers until he attended New Tech). The fact that he had never really experienced technology at a younger age also set him back and made him work harder than everyone else just to get a basic handle on how computers and technology works. 

Sidra: Although I don't feel like the movie really focused on the issues in Sidra's experience I think one of her biggest issues was the fact that in Silicon Valley, California and particularly at Multivista High, there was a very biased way of learning and a very direct path for all students to be involved in careers with technology. Even though the movie was basically arguing that technology is the gateway to the new economy, I feel like there are other parts to high school and life in general than just technology and that it is more important to experience many different approaches to learning depending on how your brain works and what you want to do when you get older. I don't like the idea that all of the kids there are basically following the career paths of their families because I know from firsthand experience (both my parents are in the Minnesota Orchestra) that it's not always ideal or convenient to be doing what your parents do.

Luisa: Similar to Kep, Luisa grew up in a low income family where it wasn't possible to have computers at a young age. She had always been interested in computers, yet had limited access because they were never available to her in her environment. She was forced to work many hours for a few years before being able to buy her own computer. Although her setbacks made her a stronger individual and made her feel more independent from her family, when she got a job working with young kids she talked about how she wished she had been subjected to that type of training in her childhood as well. She definitely encountered the digital divide often throughout her life.

Do you feel that technology provided a solution to those issues? Why or why not?

I don't necessarily believe that the technology itself provided solutions to these issues because I think it was imperative that each of the students had an interest in computers and technology in order for it to help them. The kids were special cases in which they knew they had a passion for technology. For Travis and Kep, I think it was good that they went to a school where they knew that they would be working in a group environment and on a straight path to internships and businesses that would financially support them. However, I think in Kep's case, it was his hard work and dedication that really made him successful and he truly took advantage of New Tech's program (it's important to note that he was clearly an exceptional student which was shown when he won all of those awards at the end). On the other hand, Travis, who was very intelligent (according to this mother) and who was known to be very talented with computers ended up in a completely different situation than Kep, which I think is due to other external factors besides just the digital divide. In the end, having money in the video seemed to be more essential than exposure to technology, although obviously having resources (in general) helps.

Would you have predicted the outcomes or were you surprised to see them?

I definitely figured that Sidra would be successful because it seemed that her school, the community she was surrounded by, and her family all had every opportunity going for them to get successful. I was happily surprised by Kep's case, because I can only imagine how difficult it would be to come to this country, feel uncomfortable, be exposed to technology for the first time in high school (I'm terrible with technology and I've been surrounded by it all my life), and grow up in a low-income family who is also making adjustments to a new environment. I was glad to see that he was able to overcome those barriers. I was really disappointed to see Luisa and Travis' situations because I could sort of see how them not having money would result in not being able to continue on their "technological path to success." As I've said above, I think money is the factor the plays the greatest role in modern society. Technology tends to come with money (not in the movie's specific cases, but in general), yet it doesn't necessarily create a "gateway" to economic success.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Midterm Review: Public Library Use in New York City

What were the primary findings of the study? (Big picture rather than specific stats for this)

1. “Public libraries in disadvantaged neighborhoods tend to use library resources on site more so than off site.” p. 461
2. “this research found that the national trend of a typical public library user being white, middle class, and well-educated does not give a complete picture of public library use.” p. 460
3. “The analyses in this research confirm the importance of the traditional factors such as neighborhood characteristics in terms of race, income, and education and the spatial accessibility of the branch location.” p. 460
4. “Relationship between circulation and neighborhood characteristics is nonlinear…For example a high percentage of Hispanics and a high percentage of households with less than a $10,000 annual income in a disadvantaged neighborhood have an exponential negative impact on the circulation per capita of the library branch.” p. 461

What did the researchers discover about circulation statistics? What main recommendations did the researchers make?

“These (correlations between the circulation per capita and the racial, economic, and educational variables) simple bivariate correlation analyses are not the best way of examining the causal effects of these variables on circulation per capita." p. 456
“Public library use was higher in a neighborhood with better spatial accessibility, stronger social connections in the form of nonprofit organizations, and more racial diversity and integration.” p. 459


1. “Disadvantaged neighborhoods can improve the use of their library branches by targeting residents with high school diplomas.” p. 460
2. “The branches in disadvantaged neighborhoods should be maintained to reflect the neighborhood characteristics both in appearance and in library materials.” p. 460
3. “Library branches in disadvantaged neighborhoods should get higher budgets than are proportional to their circulation figures.” p. 461
4. “Public library systems should seek to standardize and account for in-library use of resources.” p. 461
5. "For the long term, a beneficial relationship between public library use and the human, economic, cultural capital in disadvantaged neighborhoods could be established to improve and sustain the use of the library branches." p. 462


Define “gentrification.” How did this come into play with the Near North Branch, Cabrini Green and the Gold Coast?

gentrification refers to when the government invests in a community to fix up deteriorating infrastructures, incentives for redevelopment, or improve rental properties.

This came into play when the government built the Near North Branch to accomplish one of their primary goals, and that was to encourage Cabrini Green to develop more established buildings in their area.

A Neighborhood Analysis of Public Library Use in New York City

GIS is the Geographical Information System.  This is useful to the researchers because it covers very small areas which helps the information to be compared.  With concentrated information, the data can be very specific therefore eliminating as many variables as possible.

It was important to consider space because a smaller area of space means more comparable information.  And, we must make sure that the area we look at is the same size population-wise, geographical-wise, etc.

The central-place theory says that libraries and other public institutions should be centrally located in a community so people can access it the easiest.  For example, a library would be most beneficial in the center of a community, by big streets and by the hub of activity.

The findings of this study are that race and education are a big factor as to who goes to the library.  White people are much more likely to go to a library than a minority.  This is once of the reasons why circulation rates are so low in ethnically diverse neighborhoods.  Also, ironically, the more educated you are, the more likely you are to go to a library because the more experience you've had with using a library.  This is a catch 22.  The researchers suggest more funding to libraries with low circulation would help to increase circulation by allowing libraries to cater not only to community needs, but also community wants.

Midterm Review Sheet

Special features of the Near North Branch Library:
*serves as a bridge between an affluent community called the Gold Coast and a poverty-stricken neighborhood with the name Cabrini Green.
The two main goals of the branch library are to (1) encourage other improvements in Cabrini and (2) to bring together residents of the two neighborhoods who had previously had almost no contact with eachother.
The library intertwined itself with the local schools by offering several after school programs for kids that include play time to homework help. Also, they offer an extensive children's section that is often filled with up to 80 children after the school day is over!

Humbolt branch library is located in an area that is mainly hispanic. Because of this, Humbolt contains a huge selection of hispanic books, magazines, and dvds. The library director also combined the youth section with some adult books to cater to all levels of readers.

Uptown library- offers a diverse language section to cater to the diverse cultures that reside in the uptown area. Also, the library offers language programs to help those who speak English as a second language.

Why is this library a 3rd place- functions as a kind of community center by recognizing regulars and offering fishing poles, etc.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Midterm Response

Bowling Alone Response
  • Social capital refers to the relationship between a community and its individuals, emphasizing on honesty. There can be good social capital networks, for example a neighborhood watch group; each neighbor contributes in order to make their neighborhood safe, and in response each household benefits. However, their could be a negative social capital like the KKK. This group is brought together to achieve a common goal with every members contributions, but the group is seen immoral to most people. (p.22)
  • The problem of leisure is associated with the lack of participation is activities, clubs, etc. which arose after WWII. This is a problem because people are less involved and the quality of social capital decreases when the contributions of individuals to their community decrease. 
  • The decrease of social interactions are due to a lack of involvement in the community because not many citizens are as concerned (p.25).
  • Bridging social capital is inclusive and external because to bridge social capital means to reach outward to an external community, group, person, etc. in order to increase the benefits of another social capital network and inclusive to everyone. Bridging social capital generates border identities and reciprocity. Bonding social capital is exclusive and internal, referring to a specific social network improving. Bonding social capital is the "glue" whereas bridging social capital is the "WD-40." Bonding is very tight within a network and doesn't leave much room to add or build upon whereas bridging isn't as tight and leaves room for flexibility within the system.

A Neighborhood Analysis (Week 2)

How do the researchers define neighborhoods?

It's defined as a geographical or spatial entity with boundaries. A library is only really useful to a community if it successfully accounts for the different aspects of the community, like the ratio of demographics, how accessible it is based on not only proximity, but also making sure to account for the "invisible barriers" at play. The article discusses that the most important aspect of a neighborhood is the social interactions or communication. Neighborhoods have identities therefore that libraries need to recognize and act accordingly.

Midterm- Analysis in New York City

What is GIS?
--A geographical information system
According to Wikipedia, it "captures, stores, analyzes, manages, and presents data that refers to or is linked to location. In other words, the term describes any information system that integrates, stores, edits, analyzes, shares, and displays geographic information.
--The notions of space were important in this study because this study focused on the neighborhood library branches. The "space" in this sense were the different library characteristics, such as size and services.

What is the "central place theory"
---"a location theory in geography explaining the location of consumer services such as library service." (p. 448)

How did the researchers define "neighborhoods"
"a limited territory within a larger urban area, where people inhabit dwellings and interact socially" or a geographic "unit within which certain social relationships exist" (p 449)

Midterm: Questions from Chapter 2: "Branch Libraries-The Heart of the Community"

What are some special or innovative features of Chicago's Near North Branch library?
Page 36-37
-larger than previous neighborhood branches; parking lot
-"meeting rooms available for classes discussions and neighborhood groups"
-incorporates art by local artists 
-collections and services reflect the needs and interests of the community it serves, ad they change as that community changes
-"this new style of library is more comfortable and useful than the old one, a place to be known and get to know others, a source of services as well as of books and information" (pg. 37)

What were two goals local politicians and community leaders hoped to accomplish with its construction?
"It is meant to be a social force in the neighborhood, a 'community anchor.'" (pg. 38)
1. Encourage other improvements in Cabrini Green 
2. Bring together residents of two neighborhoods who had virtually no contact with one another.

How did location play a role in the creation of the library?
-"Choosing exactly the right location was critical. The site chosen was still in Cabrini, in a run-down neighborhood and adjacent to a liquor store that attracted a lot of daytime drinkers. she hoped, though, that it would be close enough to the Gold Coast to "feel" accessible" (pg. 38)
-The location was critical because they wanted to attract people from both communities

How did planners engage with schools in the area, and why?
-"Ayres met all of the school prinicpals and took photoraphs of the schools. On Dedication DAy, when Near North opened its doors for the first time, children found a map of the area surrounded by photographs of schools, including their own (plus a picture of Hogwarts to give young readers the thrill of imagining that Harry Potter's school might be hidden somewhere in Cabrini Green)." (pg. 39)
-Ayres also goes to the elementary schools to read stories; Then, when students come to the library she is recognizable and easier to approach.

Midterm: Give an example of both bridging and bonding social capital. Which one is inclusive and external, and which, exclusive and internal?

Bonding: is an inward looking and tend to reinforce exclusive identities and homogeneous group. An example of that would be a high school swim team which can be a cult, where individuals have to somewhat "prove" and guarantee their membership. Since it somewhat can be difficult to prove worth of joining the cult, the team has a defined identity and each member tends to reinforce it. This kind is also characterized by strong in-group loyalty an strong out-group antagonism,
Bridging are networks that are outward looking and encompass people across diverse social cleavages. Example: civil rights movement, youth service groups, also considered "Information Diffusion." This kind of social capital can generate broader identities, whereas bonding social capital bolsters our narrowed selves. An example of this would be Chadbourne Learning Community where they have academic activities that connect students and expand their knowledge. This would be WD-40 while Bonding would be considered "Glue"

The White Cathedral vs. The Yellow Palace

To compare the two libraries...
· Now describe the “white cathedral.”
· What social and community changes prompted Hall’s visit to the white cathedral?
· What were some barriers to Hall’s access to the white cathedral? How did this change her view of the yellow palace?

Hall first visited the white cathedral in 5th grade, and previously had been content with the library on her side of town which she affectionately called the yellow palace. She went on a field trip with her class which she describes here on the second page of the article Race and Place, "My contentent with the yellow palace was challenged by a visit to a branch in a wealthier neighborhood in my 5th grade year. It was one of those 'let's pretend to be a pro-integration' exercises that post - Brown v. Board of Education schools engaged in back then." Her visit was prompted by social changes to try to start integrating blacks and whites into one community. When she got to the library she was very impressed. There were no burglar bars, rows and rows of books, and the librarians whispered in soft, inviting voices. Hall's vision of what a library should be, or could be, was copletely changed as soon as she walked into the white cathedral. Initially she was astonished that a library as nice as the white cathedral could even be in the same system as her yellow palace. She wanted her mother to take her all the way across the tracks to go visit it, and her mom found time to take her there after the field trip. When Hall came to the library a second time, though, she did not leave as enthusiastically as she did the first time. The barriers of her access become more clear after the second time she visits. Clearly it is a barrier in itself to have to go all the way across town to get to the nicer library, but there are also other invisable barriers. The notion that the wealthier, white side of town got the privaledge of having such a great library made her side of town, and she herself seem inferior. The white cathedral "taunted" her library, which once was a palace and now seemed like a sorry excuse for a library. She noticed things about it she never noticed before, "I thought of the yellow palace's early closing hours as if it were racing the street lights, of how the cramped quarters spilled over with children all talking and reaching at once, and of how the clamor frustrated the librarians and shortened our story times. After seeing the white cathedral Hall lost interest in the yellow palace and even eventually stopped going all together. The tracks were a physical barrier to the white cathedral, but the idea that she wasn't good enough to have a library like that was really the most devastating to the young girl, and after seeing the great library on the other side of town, Hall couldn't even bring herself to go back to the yellow "palace."

Tracie Hall's audience

I'd just like to add to the posts of the Race & Place article that I think Tracie Hall's audience are librarians across the nation. She's a librarian herself and in the reading she states that "Libraries are not colorblind".

I think we sometimes get the perception that libraries are these great places where everyone is treated equally and has equal resources, but as her story of the Yellow Palace and White Cathedral show, this is not the case. I feel like she kind of wants to change the disparity that exists between libraries (some which are even in the same system), and this article is her way of showing that there is a real problem here, even in today's society.

RACE & PLACE Tracie Hall

“the yellow place”

· anti-theft bars over windows

· library placed between police station and jail

· 2 very small reading rooms

· her grandmother would take her to the library – walk long blocks to get to library

“the white cathedral”

· beanbags and soft chairs, inviting atmosphere

· multiracial library staff

· much nicer facility

social and community changes that prompted Hall’s visit to white cathedral

· pro-integration

· post Brown vs. Board of Education

barriers to Hall’s access to white cathedral

· distance

· yellow palace was considered “her” library because it was easily accessible and in her hometown

who was Hall’s audience? I think library workers and anyone working on new library plans for insight on what community members think of libraries and how they can actually divide a community instead of integrating it

Race and Place Yellow Palace Description

Describe Hall’s childhood local library, the “yellow palace.” What were its features and/or barriers? Where was it located within her community?

Tracie Hall's description of the yellow palace begins on page two of the article. She describes anti-theft bars on every possible point of entry. It contained two reading areas, each quite small, that separated children from adults. It was in good company what with being adjacent to the police station and neighborhood jail. It was painted a drab yellow, thus the 'yellow palace'.

The neighborhood of the yellow palace was poverty stricken and dysfunctional. There were no grocery stores, the hospital had closed and was replaced by a smaller health clinic. The ambulances were very far away and so was the 'real' hospital they would take you to. There were plenty of churches in the neighborhood, but the author considered the library dearer to her than the churches.

The only key features of the library were that it provided the impoverished community a library. It was very dear to the author, and possibly other children. The grandmother in the story has said she never had anything like it when she was young. The barriers of the library far outweigh the features. Drawbacks like the location near the jail and the community itself being without a hospital or grocery store and people like the author's grandparents who did not receive much education are far more prevalent than the few 'features'.

Social capital and cyberpower in the African American community

What do the authors mean by the term "racial ravine"?
It refers to the difference in digital-divide among different races.
"The digital divide has turned into a "racial ravine" when one looks at access among households of different races and ethnic origins"(Social capital and cyberpower, p177)
What is "public computing"? What is a "Community Technology Center(CTC)?" Define
"In addition to home and work, people access computers and the Internet in public settings including government institutions (such as libraries and schools), commercial enterprises (such as copy shops and private business schools) and other venues making up the public sphere. We call this public computing." (p. 178)

"The community-technology centre is a generic name given to a computer lab open to the public." (p. 178)

The authors invoke Castells' "dual city"? What is it? Briefly identify.
Castells claimed the dual city is that
" By dual city I understand an urban system socially and spatially polarised between high value-making groups and functions on the one hand and devalued social groups and downgraded spaces on the other hand..The power of new information technologies, however, enhances and deepens features present in the social structure and in power relationships (p. 178)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Midterm: CARI model

What is the 'CARI model'?

According to Community analysis: Research that matters to a north-central Denver community, the article by Sarling, J.H., & Van Tassel, D.S. (1999):

"The Community Analysis Research Institute (CARI) model begins with a focus on the community from four perspectives--individuals, groups, agencies and lifestyles--and incorporates both quantitative and qualitative research methods to collect a variety of data including demographic characteristics, history of the community, topographical features, transportation routes and traffic patterns, commercial activities, communication patterns, housing, education, cultural activities, health facilities, employment, recreation, entertainment, and the characteristic lifestyles of the community and its sub-cultures" (pg 8-9).

Basically, the method emphasizes the need for the library to understand what the community needs. The library should be molded to fit the community around it. For example, in the library that this study covered they recommended areas for children to study since they might not have the space at home. They also recommended a large video selection, since there was no nearby video rental store. And because the surrounding community was diverse, they knew that the library needed to be very bilingual. The researchers found this all out by using various methods--such as conducting interviews, driving around, and consulting Census data--and seeing what the community had and what it needed.

Midterm: The problem of leisure and bridging and bonding social capital.

What is the "problem of leisure"? Why is it a problem? When did it arise? (Bowling Alone)

Leisure is quoted as being the "most dangerous threat hanging over American society..."(16).  Similarly, leisure is a problem because it makes community members complacent and uninterested in the overall well being of the community, and it also lessens the impact of social capital. On page 25 of Putnam's "Bowling Alone," some statistics are given about how individuals believe leisure has damaged their society (interviewed in 1987)...
  • "53% thought that their parents' generation was better in terms of 'being a concerned citizen, involved in helping others with the community...'"
  • "Fully 77% said the nation was worse off because of less involvement in community activities..."
Interviewed in 1996
  • "Only 8% of all Americans said that 'the honesty and integrity of the average American' were improving, as compared with 50% of us who though were were becoming less trustworthy..."
Leisure is a problem because it results in the breakdown of social capital, which further results in the breakdown of "good will, fellowship, sympathy and social intercourse..." (Bowling Alone, 19). 
Putnam does not put an exact date on when the problem of leisure arose, but he estimates that it is around the last few decades where leisure has taken a toll on Americans...
"For the first two-thirds of the twentieth century a powerful tide bore Americans into ever deeper engagement in the life of their communities, but a few decades ago- silently, without warning- that tide reversed and were were overtaken by a treacherous rip current. Without at first noticing, we have been pulled apart from one another and from our communities over the last third of the century" (Bowling Alone, 27).
Give an example of both bridging and bonding social capital. Which one is inclusive and external, and which one is exclusive and internal? Which one is "glue" and which one is "WD-40"?
Bridging social capital is inclusive and external and examples include the civil rights movement, many youth service groups, and ecumenical religious organizations (Bowling Alone, 22). On the other hand bonding social capital is exclusive and internal and examples include ethnic fraternal organizations, church-based women's reading groups, and fashionable country clubs (22). 
Furthermore, "bonding social capital is good for undergirding specific reciprocity and mobilizing solidarity," while "bridging networks... are better for linkage to external assets and for information diffusion" (22). Similarly, Xavier de Souza Briggs states that bonding social capital is good for "getting by," while bridging social capital is crucial for "getting ahead" (23). 
While both are important for building social capital, "Bonding social capital constitutes a kind of sociological superglue, whereas bridging social capital provides a sociological WD-40" (23).

Midterm: Community Informatics: Integrating Action, Research and Learning.

  • What is “Community Informatics”? What does it hope to accomplish?
    • CI is a multidisciplinary field for the investigation and development of the social and cultural factors shaping the development of the social and cultural factors shaping the development and diffusion of new ICTs and its effects upon community development, regeneration, and sustainability . (p6)
    • CI is making efforts to promote a positive role for computers and the Internet in society. (p7)
  • Define “pragmatic technology.”
    • Pragmatic technology encompasses the common language notion of how to design tools to meet real human needs and accommodate users in their lived situations. (p8)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Social capital

In my opinion, Social Capital is not really who you know and what they can do for you, because that kind of implies a selfish view to it. I think it's more the concept of trustworthiness and willingness to participate, as well as the shared values of a community.

It's not necessarily like you as an individual have to benefit from social capital, but the society as a whole does. For instance if I were to participate in a Bowling League, it's not like the other people in the league are doing anything "for" me, but it probably benefits the society as a whole because leagues like this are what connects the society and reduce negative things like discrimination.

In a town with zero social capital, it'd be pretty easy for people who know nothing about eachother to start judging everyone else based on race, economical status, etc. With things like book clubs at the library for example, people who normally wouldn't gather together are meeting and mixing. Things like race and how much money you have are irrelevant.

Again, this benefits the society more than an individual person and that is how I view the concept of Social Capital.

What is social capital?

Social capital is basically who you know and what they can do for you. Here I lift a direct quote from page 19 of the Bowling Alone text:

[Social capital consists of] "those tangible substances that count for most in the daily lives of people: namely good will, fellowship, sympathy, and social intercourse among the individuals and families who make up a social unit.... The individual is helpless socially, if left to himself.... If he comes into contact with his neighbor, and they with other neighbors, there will be an accumulation of social capital, which may immediately satisfy his social needs and which may bear a social potentiality sufficient to the substantial improvement of living conditions in the whole community. The community as a whole will benefit by the cooperation of all its parts, while the individual will find in his associations the advantages of the help, the sympathy, and the fellowship of his neighbors."

It is also important to note that social capital consists of different parts. You would not go to your hockey buddies to help you write a ten page paper, and you wouldn't rely on the bookworm to go out and score a goal. Different people are valuable in their respective environments. Once they have been taken out of that environment, their use as social capital becomes diminished.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

MIS from "Race and Place"

"I want to believe that the library is unerringly socially progressive, occupying some sacred dimension that sets it apart, above. But the truth is, there is no such vacuum. More often than not libraries mirror rather than oppose local politics and socioeconomic stratifications. As the song goes, Them that's got shall get, Them that's not shall lose." (Pg. 32, Race and Place)

I was particularly struck by this section from "Race and Place" because I think sadly this is the attitude that most people have today about all third places and cities in general. Everyone wants to see a socially progressing  world where everyone has equal chances and resources yet in a lot of ways the environment in which one lives mirrors what is available and accessible to the people living in that environment. Also, after doing the comparisons of libraries this week for online lecture, it was clear that the make-up of particular cities influences what is emphasized in libraries or reflects the information that is provided at particular locations. 

I also think that the quote at the end is very representative of the path we have been on for the past few years in the United States where the people who already have everything have continued to increase their wealth and prosperity and the people that are at the bottom seem to be losing even more. Unfortunately, in a capitalist world, that trend is inevitable, but I still believe (and from looking at other capitalist countries, I know it's possible) that the gap should close between rich and poor, because it is the separation and inequality within every facet of our country (i.e. government, social policies, jobs, health, education, etc.) that is dividing people apart and hurting so many around the United States.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Wk. 3 - Race and Place MIS

The "Race and Place" article was particularly interesting for me. Tracie Hall's narrative style created a clear picture of the changing times in her environment. Because of this, I was able to see in vivid detail part of what separates us from our grandparents in terms of society and technology. This week's MIS comes towards the end of the article. It reads: "There we were, in an era where time has become the ultimate commodity, waiting for access, my wireless-ready laptop a privilege made useless there on the wrong side of the tracks." I think this line does a good job of distinguishing two different generations. Nowadays, we have everyday luxuries that make our lives easier and more efficient. Yet, when we take a step back from our loading screens, it seems funny that we have grown to be so dependent on our machines. It is paradoxical how we invented these luxuries to help us with our daily lives, while in reality they hold us back socially and seem to do a good job of consuming people. I think that this sentence does a good job of summarizing this paradox.

Wk. 3 - Race and Place MIS

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bowling Alone - MIS

My MIS is from the introduction of the book, Bowling Alone, by Robert D. Putman. It is on page 26, line 9, and it states, "perhaps the younger generation today is no less engaged than their predecessors, but engaged in new ways." I found this to be the most interesting segment of the first chapter because it contradicted what many of the statistics conveyed in the previous text. After reading much of what seemed to claim younger generations are not engaged in society, the only thought on my mind was that the author just wasn't looking for the right statistics. His argument seemed heavily weighed to only one perspective. I think today's generations are still engaged, and that it is happening all around us. Just because we not bowling or hanging out at the VFW doesn't say anything about how engaged we are, but rather more about how boring and uninteresting the social activities of the past might seem to younger generations. I had hoped after reading this statement that the author would have gone into more details and statistics relating to how younger generations are engaged in new ways.


My MIS would be in page 8 of the reading by Putnam "Better Together," it talks about the elderly woman's struggle with the online financial aid form - and how that exemplifies two problems in our society that define the so called 'Digital Divide.' In my opinion, this is very aggravating because technology is being used as a tool to get information. And now, with our world rapidly changing into the online format, people, who are unfamiliar with this technology, are each day more and more far away from this information and learning (since the government assumes that everyone knows how to use computers).
This intensifies the gap already present in our society making the 'have-nots' more vulnerable to find better jobs and improve their well-being while the 'haves' of the population will be even better off in touch with the technology and information culture. Public libraries exist to revert this tendency, however, it does it so in a 'bittersweet' way since it can reinforce these inequalities seen in society, as mentioned in the reading "Race and Place." I do believe though that with the renovation of generations, these racial and social walls start losing their power and libraries will each introduce those who are unfamiliar to the technology era (for free) - being able to lessen the digital divide.

MIS from "Thinking about Social Change in America"

"Trustworthiness lubricates social life" (page 21)

Because this sentence could possibly contribute to every single reading we do in this class, I think it is very important and effective. As we talked about social capital and look into the relationship between the community and and individual and how each benefits; the basis of this relationship is trust. In order for social capital and social life to flourish, trust needs to be established in the interaction of individuals. This quote is very much related to any personal interaction, in order to believe in a community and contribute to its expansion, one needs trust and to believe in the outcome. Social life is built upon trust in order to create "mutual benefit" between both an individual and its community. An entire community based upon trust and personal responsibility will generate a better community.

MIS for week 3, Race and Place

The sentence that I found most interesting in the readings for this week was from Race and Place by Tracie Hall. When talking about her childhood her childhood experience with the library "on the other side of the tracks," compared to the one in her own neighborhood, she says, "The inequities between the two libraries had restated our insignificance. 'There is something inferior about the people who live over there,' the white cathedral seemed to be taunting." I think the racial divide that was present in the fifties is especially apparent in this passage, and it shows how the young, naive girl did not even fully realize the extent to which she was being cheated by society. She had made weekly trips to the library in her neighborhood, but after seeing the "white cathedral," she stopped going to her library, which must have seemed simply insignificant. I think that the phrase "separate is inherently unequal" is proved quite vividly in this short story.


"More often than not libraries mirror rather than oppose local politics and socioeconomic stratifications" - Tracie D. Hall

I found this to be a very interesting sentence. I find myself agreeing with it as well. Libraries are meant to treat everyone equally and are also supposed to be equal among themselves. However, it tends to be that the nicer libraries are in the nicer neighborhoods or communities. At first, when I started to take this class, I didn't realize there was such a difference and I thought people were making a big deal out of nothing. After reading the assigned readings I realize this is not the case and in fact I had grown up with the "yellow palace" and when I first came to the United States, I was amazed at how big the libraries are. After two years, I still can't navigate through one. I saw the communities I lived in mirrored in the libraries. I went from an Air Force community, which is thought of as being the "higher class" community out of the military to an Army community, which sadly is thought to be much "lower class". (Just to clarify, neither of these even make it into "higher class" unless their officers, all enlisted for both branches tend to have lower middle class economic status, one is just treated better than the other). These class differences are mirrored significantly in the libraries. Neither of the two libraries can compare with the United States libraries. When reading about the "yellow palace" I immediately thought of the two libraries I grew up with. I have to agree with this statement that local politics and socioeconomic stratifications are mirrored in the libraries.