Opening Keynote – Henry Jenkins

Live from Chicago and the Gaming, Learning, and Libraries Symposium!

Henry Jenkins
What Librarians Need to Know About Games, Media Literacy, and Participatory Culture

[You can feel the buzz in the room and the buzz is saying, “We are here to have some fun and learn.”]

Henry Jenkins opens by saying that this is the first time he has been out of the house since he got the Harry Potter book Friday. [The crowd laughs in understanding. I have already seen a handful of librarians, crunched in a corner, furiously flipping pages.]

1996 bought Doonesbury Election Game for his son and the school librarian would not let him take it to school. This was Dr. Jenkins’ introduction to games in libraries.

It is not about the product in the box, the game; it is about what people learn from the game. [Everything else is just packaging.]

In Participatory Culture, there are low barriers to artistic expression and civic engagement. There is no fixed hierarchy in participatory culture which allows all age levels to interact and learn from each other. The example Dr. Jenkins uses is fanfic which is written, reviewed, and published.

Kids who have better access to the internet are better consumers of information. Libraries are sometimes the only access points many kids have to the internet. How can you make that experience better for them? [Well, giving them a computer and letting them do what they want, within reason, is a start.]

How do we teach students to use information ethically? Students need to know:
Traditional print literacy
Research skills
Technical skills
Media literacy

Technical skills does not equal typing. Teaching typing as technical skills is like teaching penmanship and thinking that you have taught writing.

New skills needed for participatory culture:

Play – the capacity to experiment with your surroundings as a form of problem solving

Simulation – the ability to interpret and construct dynamic models of real world process

Performance – the ability to adopt alternative identities for the purpose of improve and discovery

Appropriation- the ability to meaningfully sample and remix media content

Multitasking – the ability to scan ones environment and shift focus onto salient details on an ad hoc basis

Distributed cognition – the ability to interact meaningfully with tools which expand our mental capacities

Collective intelligence – the ability to pool knowledge and compare notes with others towards a common game

Judgment – the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility of different information sources

Transmedia Navigation – the ability to deal with the flow of stories and information across modalities

Networking – the ability to search for, synthesize, and disseminate information

Negotiation – the ability to travel across diverse communities, discerning and respecting multiple perspectives, and grasping… [oops, I did not quite get this one.]

How does this affect the people in this room? Librarians are information facilitators, not merely archivists of the printed word. Libraries are part of the social network with other libraries and this would allow us to collaborate and take advantage of the role as information service providers.