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John Seely Brown Keynote at Internet Librarian Conference

Written by Kate Leuschke Blinn
October 17, 2011

Earlier this week, John Seely Brown gave the opening keynote talk at the fifteenth annual 2011 Internet Librarian Conference. What a great choice of speakers! John Seely Brown is one of those visionary folks who seems to have been able to see for some time what the rest of us are still realizing and trying to integrate into our professional lives: That the digital shift is closely tied to trying-and-failing, to playing and tinkering, to making.

In his opening address, Brown said that the half-life of a given skill has shrunk to only 5 years. If that is the case, how can teachers and librarians help prepare students for the world?

The Librarian in Black‘s post about Brown’s talk includes this amazing nugget:

In a world of constant change entrepreneurial learners must be willing to regrind the conceptual lenses with which they make sense of the world. And for this an essential thing is PLAY. Play is imagination, poetry. Play is freedom to fail, and then get it right. Play leads to epiphanies—everything suddenly falling in place. Learning leads to a reframing or a re-registering of the world.

I think we need to cultivate the attitude of play-fail-try again. It’s not part of what our professional mentors taught us. (Or is it?) And I think librarians are spread out across the spectrum from having integrated that attitude into their practice to still trying to understand the ideas. As a recent graduate of a Library Science program, I am still getting a sense of where I am on the spectrum, and who the digital mentors in the library field might be. Here are some more of the folks who are blogging from the Internet Librarian Conference: Bloggers @IL2011

And here’s the video of JSB’s keynote – go watch it!

By the way, Digital Is has some great resources where teachers take on the idea of tinkering:

Tinkering and Exploration by Angie Bunday

Essential Elements of the Digital Classroom – Digital Is … Tinkering

and you can read more about the NWP-Make Partnership project, where teachers at several writing project sites are integrating making projects and writing about making into their classrooms and students’ lives.