Michael Peter Edson, The Soul of a Library #internetlibrarian @mpedson

Long-time web director at Smithsonian Institution, creator of Museum of the United Nations

“Cutting the Gordian Knot, or Jibo’s Goodbye”

Marsh Mello conference on Fortnite. 10 million people attended and most of us never heard of it.

Jibo: emotional robot (like Siri only expresses feelings)

Boston Dynamics dog robot.

How do we get difficult work done in society?
How do we get millions or billions of people to work on local/global projects
Who are we and what is our future?

Climate change: 11 years to prevent irreversible damage

UN: Sustainable development goals

Story: ceramics class: half of students judged on one pot, the other half judged by weight of pots. Second group did better work

Story: MacArthur Foundation to award $100 million for solution to a global problem. Chose child welfare, but dollars were tiny compared to the problem.

Story: Asked people in Oakland, “Where do you get your culture?” People didn’t have answer. But when they asked “Who are the creative people in your community?” People lit up with answers.

Student searched “Cannery Row” on a digital library site. Disappointed none of the results were about the book, and the results were sorted by institution, not relevance. “It’s not for me,” he said.

“A problem space.”
There are many alternatives to top-down problem solving.
Even large amounts of money under central control are not enough to solve certain problems.
Common assumption about “reaching” and “serving” people are often mistaken.
There are tremendous resources among the people on the ground.

Problems often come at the beginning from mistaken premises.

“Dark Matter and Trojan Horses.”

“Delay all decisions until the last responsible moment.”

Atul Gawande: Just saying your name to somebody increases efficacy in teams.

Choose one of the Sustainable Development Goals that speaks to you. Tell your story.

Gordian Knot: Alexander the Great cut it to prove he should rule all Asia. Take the direct path. What happens more often, people take a meandering path and hope someone else will do what needs to be done. Ask: “Tell me a story about a time when that worked.”

Museums and libraries say they are activist institutions, but what are they doing about the problems they think they are solving?

After withdrawal from Paris climate accords, museum web site were doing business as usual. Teen Vogue and the Weather Channel were speaking out.

“Handoffs” in society aren’t working as they used to. Ideally, journalism should find out about wrongdoing and government should act. Everybody needs to take a little more risk.

False dichotomies: global/local, digital/physical, etc.

Gun control movement: Young people led, older people supported them.

Global is just a lot of local together.

Most institutions think of trust as something you earn, but it’s useless if you never spend it.

Dark side of tech.

Playfully, with your neighbors, networked and at speed

Bill McKibben: “Winning slowly is the same as losing”

“If you wonder what you would’ve been doing during slavery, the Holocaust, the Civil Rights movement, you’re doing it now.”

Greta Thunberg: I don’t want you to be hopeful … I want you to act.

Postscript: Jibo is going away.


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