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Podcast: Pew's Lee Rainie drills into mobile, the Internet, and libraries

There's no that doubt mobility has changed the way people access and connect with one another. Just think of how laptops and cell phones have changed our lives. But another clear demonstration of this is in the library. Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project, described it this way during a recent podcast with Janelle:

"We see a lot of evidence that the life people lead in libraries is very similar to the life that people lead in a lot of knowledge-based industries. There's a flattening of organizational structure. There are fewer layers of bureaucracy in lots of places and that's a direct result of the Internet and other communications technologies that are making it easier for people to reach across departments ..."

Click play for more from Lee. You'll hear him discuss his latest research from Pew Internet, "Friending Libraries: Why Libraries Can Become Nodes in People's Social Networks." It finds, among other things, that over half of Americans are using the Internet as a diversion and method of coping during the recession.

Lee and Janelle talk about information overload, and how knowledge workers are feeling more stressed about work because of the always-on connectivity of information technology.

But even though it's easy for people to look up things on the Internet these days, it's not eliminating librarians' jobs, says Lee. Patrons are still dependent on librarians as expert gatekeepers and curators of information to help guide them to what they're looking for and filter out irrelevant content.

A major trend Pew Internet is focusing on right now is mobile connectivity. Lee says: "There's tremendous excitement that started with the introduction of the iPhone a couple of years ago, and now there's a whole marketplace for smart phones. It's not clear how this is all going to sort out and it's not clear even what patrons want out of the technology. So we're in a great experimental moment and moment of uncertainty of how mobile connectivity is actually going to play out in a useful way in people's lives."

Lee is also working on a book, tentatively titled "Networking: The New Social Operating System." He and coauthor Barry Wellman, a sociologist at University of Toronto are exploring ways technology has "put traditional social interaction on steroids." It's slated for publishing by late 2010 or early 2011.

Lots of things covered in our podcast, so be sure to tune in!

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