Tuesday, July 07, 2009

The library is a macroscope

I am a non-designer who wants to bring better design into the library. Nurses have designed better environments for themselves and their patients. We can do likewise.

So that's why I think you should watch this video of a presentation called Scope by Matt Webb from the most recent Reboot conference [Boing boing]. Matt Webb isn't a Designer but he is part of a four person company that does design work.

He begins his talk with some of the definitions of design that he has collected, including:

"Design is the conscious and intuitive effort to impose meaningful order".
"Design is not about problem solving. Design is about cultural invention".
"The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public."

If the parallels between our work and the work of designers isn't yet clear at this point, then please watch the first five minutes of Webb's talk in which he introduces these ideas in context.

Oh yes, and around the 8 minute mark, Webb introduces the concept of the macroscope. "Designers -- in order to see things really big, like culture, need macroscopes."

The library is a macroscope of recorded human knowledge. And it needs to become a better one to help the reader make sense and make use of the recorded knowledge in their culture. And we need to design better library space for as Beth Jefferson has said, as paraphrased by Rochelle Mazar,

We, also, are less about our content than about the medium in which we can present them. Our devices are buildings; while “the library without walls” meme has been going around for a while, the reality is that people still need space, and our spaces are popular as spaces to work, think, be and be seen. At the very least. When we move into things like ubiquitous interfaces, maybe our space becomes the medium, the device.

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