Monkey Delight

Last night I went to Monkeybook 2 at Monkey Town to hear Brad Paley give a fascinating talk about TextArc and a few other projects. I’m still sorting out all of the ideas Brad offered us, but the major concept he seemed to want us to grasp was this: if you want someone to absorb information, offer it to them in a form that lets them find the patterns in it. He repeatedly mentioned that humans delight in finding patterns and pulling together threads of information, which, of course, sent me down a path thinking about the ways library catalogs, article databases and other digital tools don’t delight researchers. Which in turn sent me down one of my favorite paths, which is thinking about how these tools could delight researchers. So many of the aha! moments I see students and other faculty reaching when I’m working with them are moments of “Aha! I finally understand how this crazy database thing works!” rather than moments of engagement with the actual information they’re finding. Shouldn’t the database or catalog be disappearing in that moment? Or, even better, complementing the information in a way that makes it easier to understand? These seem like such simple questions, but I’m frustrated by how few resource providers in the library world even begin to address them.

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2 responses to “Monkey Delight

  1. so, perhaps after Thursday you can show me what you’ve drawn that shows what a catalog/database may look like if it were displaying information in a more engaging way. or maybe you can tell me how you would like to interact with the information to make it function better.
    yes, i absolutely agree that resource providers are pretty much ignoring the inherent problems in the resources they design. they are still thinking of how we deal with print materials and not looking at the opportunities or exploring the possibilities that may be able to make information even more useful and interesting.
    I want you to draw a picture, though (that can mean whatever you want it to mean, but I want to “see” something). What that is will be up to you…

  2. Thanks for taking on the role of Studio Drill Sergeant, Holly!

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