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Tuesday, 26th August 2014

A Better Web

Source: Nominet Trust (UK)

Most new communications technologies with mass appeal produce some kind of moral panic over whether people can be trusted to use them. When the first mass market novels were published, people worried that women would spend too much time reading, alone with their imaginations, rather than attending to their duties. Most of these panics have proved ill-founded.

Yet what stands out about the mixture of wonder and unease that we currently feel about digital technologies is that this dilemma is not provoked by self-appointed, out-of-touch moral guardians. It is now widely felt among people who use these technologies on a regular basis, including many young people as well as their parents.

This paper is about how we respond to that unease. Its central argument is that we need to reclaim a sense of control over our technologies, which means better understanding how they are developed while also promoting how they can be used to provide dramatically improved public services: education and learning; health and care; collaborative solutions to shared challenges. If we think the web can be reduced to Google, Facebook, YouTube, iTunes and Amazon, then we are at risk of missing huge opportunities to learn, care, debate, make, share and create online.

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Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

Adrian can be reached at adrian.janes@freepint.com

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