Issue 79: Educational Technology Futures, Social Media Legislation, Apollo 11 Launch at 50

Posted on 3 minute read

Welcome to the re-inaugural issue of DLTJ Thursday Threads. Counting backward, there were 78 previous issues (all by the most recent still need to be converted from the old WordPress style of formatting) with—all told—several hundred references and commentary. Here at the start of 2022, I’m making a resolution to restart Thursday Threads with links and thoughts about library technology, general technology trends, and internet culture.

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What EDUCAUSE’s 2022 Top 10 IT Issues Mean for Libraries

The EDUCAUSE 2022 Top 10 IT Issues take an optimistic view of how technology can help make the higher education we deserve—through a shared transformational vision and strategy for the institution, a recognition of the need to place students’ success at the center, and a sustainable business model that has redefined 'the campus.'
Top 10 IT Issues, 2022: The Higher Education We Deserve EDUCAUSE

Let’s start with this report from EDUCAUSE from a panel of its members that reviewed survey results on what they see as the big educational technology issues for the year. I cover this report in more depth in a separate DLTJ article, but I think it is useful to provide some of the headline commentaries here. First, these IT leaders anticipate an acceleration of the role of technology in teaching and learning. The pandemic has spawned a new recognition of how big the cohort of “non-traditional” students is—part-time learners, remote learners, asynchronous learners, etc. Instructional technologists will certainly be called upon to support new tools and new roles; the academic librarian’s instructional experience and traditional “high-touch” approach to supporting users can be an asset for institutions that choose to tap that capability. There is recognition that we are all tired and stretched as well as the reality that one-time emergency money is drying up. Still, there is room for growth for academic libraries seeking to re-form their mission for a new era.

Legislation in the Works for Social Media Regulation

Washington is awash in proposals for reforming social media, but in a narrowly divided Congress, it’s little surprise that none have passed. Many Democrats believe that social media’s core problem is that dangerous far-right speech is being amplified. Many Republicans believe that the core problem is that the platforms are suppressing conservative political views. The new Senate legislation, which was introduced by two Democrats, Chris Coons and Amy Klobuchar, and a Republican, Rob Portman, may have a path toward passage because it doesn’t require taking a side in that argument.
A Former Facebook Executive Pushes to Open Social Media’s ‘Black Boxes’ New York Times, 2-Jan-2022

I haven’t heard anyone say recently that the ills of social media are a matter of information literacy. It seems like the world has recognized that social media algorithms prey upon socioeconomic standing and addictive human psychology to drive engagement in negative feedback loops and that no amount of education can combat the power of the algorithm. I don’t expect “social media curriculum” to come out of any legislative effort—particularly in an environment that is as polarized as the one we are now in. But I wonder if there is a role for library programming and library services in helping citizens understand the effects of social media algorithms, should new regulations provide the public data and research about how these companies are affecting our social relationships.

Relive the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Launch…Projected onto the Washington Monument!

"Apollo 50: Go for the Moon," recreated the launch of Apollo 11 and told the story of the first Moon landing through full-motion projection mapping artwork on the Washington Monument. Over a half-million people joined us July 16 to 20, 2019, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 on the National Mall.
Apollo 50 Launch in 4k: Washington Monument Projection Mapping , Vimeo (16 minute video)

This is nearly three years old—pre-pandemic times—and it is still worth a quarter of an hour of your time to watch. The creative production and the technical execution of this performance must have been spectacular in person because it is mesmerizing to watch on a flat, two-dimensional screen. Details about this collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution can be found in a press release from the time.