I am thrilled to be involved in the Virginia Tech New Media Faculty Seminar this semester. This interdisciplinary group includes staff, faculty, administrators, and grad students from across the university. I’ve been a fan of “New Media” since I first learned it was a thing, and have been desperate to get back into the classroom despite my schedule since getting to Virginia Tech. This seminar seems like a nice balance: the intellectual rewards of participating in a class without having to schedule the time to write papers or study for exams. (I need that time for my own writing at this point, since I’m on the continued appointment track!)
Anyway, we’re kicking off with an excellent reading list using the New Media Reader, starting with Inventing the Medium by Janet H. Murray and Vannevar Bush’s As We May Think. We also started off the class with some of the classic 1968 videos from Douglas Engelbart:
And the much more recent 2007 Michael Wesch’s
When we had the opportunity to introduce ourselves I talked about how I’ve always been an early adopter (at least in terms of software and communication technology). And a large part of that is because I find that it changes how I view information, and to some extent the world. Libraries/Information Studies seemed like a really good fit given that. I’m really interested in exploring how the changing information/communication/media landscapes impact peoples’ access to information, their ability to learn and contribute back, and, ultimately, their understanding of the world. Library work gives me a concrete “lab” in which to explore this, and the information I find then can be directly fed back into my library work to make the library more relevant. Of course, that’s just one of my major interests in my profession. As any professional knows, there are many reasons I do what I do.
By the end of class, I realized that the LIB100 course I’d taught a dozen or so times was actually more a new media course than an information literacy one. Yes, we learned how to use library resources and navigate the web, but the focus of my sections were always on how the information or media environment was changing, and what that meant for the students going forward. The research was always designed around New Media topics. In fact, we watched the very same Wesch video shown above. We talked about domains, the history of the internet, when they got their first cell phones and how it changed their lives. (Fun fact, computers, internet, and cell phone all were creeping backwards with each class. Every class, though, remembered playing Oregon Trail in elementary school. Only their generation had a color version of the game.) We talked about the evolution of news and how that change impacts the news they have access to. I always thought the class had a Science, Technology, and Society spin to it, but now I realize the particular flavor it had was actually New Media.
So, at this point, I’m seeing this seminar as tied both to my own intellectual interest as well as to my professional field, which is a pretty nice synergy. All participants in the seminar are expected to blog as part of their involvement, so expect New Media related posts throughout this semester. It should be fun, and as I said above, still relevant for the library crowd over here. Happy fall semester, y’all!