Keeping Up With Technology

Graphene. If you said graphene to me yesterday, I would have nodded and smiled, secretly hiding my complete lack of knowledge. Graphene is a two dimensional derivative of carbon that is the topic of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Nanodots. Again, I say, “What?” Shame on me, since there was news in April about a library on a chip thanks to nanodots.

Rather than letting Slawyers know about my shameful lack of knowledge on general scientific topics, I have a suggestion. Check out MIT’s Technology Review. Follow them on twitter if short snippets of article titles are more palatable. Personally I am finding the twitter stream for the publication most useful for my purposes. It is general enough for a broad brush overview of the science based information that I miss with my personal preference for reading in the humanities.

I attended an Edmonton Law Libraries Association lunch yesterday where we had a presentation by Geoff Harder. Geoff is Digital Initiatives Coordinator, University of Alberta Libraries, and he came to talk to us about Twitter and web technologies. Perhaps unintentionally, Geoff made me think about who is in my network. This sparked some reflection about the balance in my knowledge base, and what I choose to learn and know about from my connections and my personal current awareness processes. As a librarian, I feel a certain responsibility to be a generalist, but as a law librarian, there is pressure to be hyper-aware in my specialty.

My question for Slawyers is this: In a world of exploding information, how can we define ‘general knowledge’ or ‘common sense’?

If Leonardo Da Vinci lived today, what would he know?


  1. It’s a fine balance, isn’t it, Shaunna? As info pros, we need to keep peripherally aware of a very large range of topics, so that we have some basic vocabulary in the topics we’re chasing, and so that we can evaluate sources with some confidence. But, we also need to be focused and deeply tuned into what is happening in the legal world. This shift from broad to narrow focus can give you vertigo.

    At WebcomTO, Don Tapscott made reference to a student who told him: “If it’s news, it will find me”. I think we all rely on that to some extent. We rely on our networks, formal and informal, to keep us up on what is worth knowing.

    The problem, of course, is having too many of the same minds in your network! We run the risk of narrowing the focus too much, and hearing only the echoes of our own voices. We need a wide variety of perspectives, and a manageable flow of content.

    I’m certainly not there yet. How do others make sure they’re tapped into the right sources, and getting an accurate read on what’s happening?

  2. If Don’s student is a lawyer he or she might be relying on his librarian to forward the news to him…

    Thanks for your comment Wendy. I am looking forward to comments that answer your question “How do others make sure they’re tapped into the right sources, and getting an accurate read on what’s happening?”