CIL 2011: Three Keys to Engaging Digital Natives

Speaker: Michelle Manafry

It doesn’t matter how cool you are, at some point you will find yourself sounding like your parents. “In my day, we had to look things up in the catalog.” That’s okay — there differences in the generations.

Tara Hunt says, “Andy Warhol’s saying, ‘everyone will be famous for 15 minutes’ has changed to ‘everyone will be famous to 15 people.'” This did not start with the internet. It was already heading that way from the therapist’s couch to Jerry Springer. It’s no surprise that reality TV is so popular.

It might seem dangerous to be sharing so much information, but it also provides the opportunity to crowdsource for good.

One way libraries can blur the lines and bring the social aspect to their communities is by using social sign-on instead of anonymous browsing or a lengthy registration process. This allows them to integrate the users’ social community into the website and take it back to their social networks. They can become your advocates out in the world.

This generation is interested in knowledge sharing, not knowledge hoarding. For example, the trend of haul videos on YouTube shows a very engaged user base. This is innovation on their own terms. Quirky is an organization/site for social product development. Users submit ideas and the community decides on which one will be created and sold. Not only do the inventors earn money, but also the people who were involved in deciding on the product, because nothing gets made if no one will buy it and the selection process is a huge part of the product development.

Knowledge alone is not power. Knowledge shared is power. We ignore this at our peril.

This generation has more faith in the things it is involved in creating. This generation is interested in interactions, not transactions.

Social capitalism is an emerging economy based on ratings and interactions. We need to be aware of and involved in this new economy. Many libraries are adopting ways to engage with users, from resource guides to chat services.