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    Future of the English Language

    Hi there!

    This post isn’t really about libraries, but it DOES involve language and linguistics, so I feel that it relates somewhat.  Recently, I was grousing like a crotchety old man about the decline of the English Language in modern American society.  The truth is, I honestly don’t think that the English language is declining. In fact, I think it’s never been stronger.  Before I get into any of this, bear in mind that I have NEVER taken a formal Linguistics class. I’ve taken classes in the History of the English Language, but never the kind of intense Linguistics where we study things like glottal stops and bi-labial fricatives.  So I might be completely off base here. Linguists in the audience? Please let me know!

    First, a little history …

    A few years ago, I was flummoxed by a library patron who politely asked me if we had any translations of King Lear. Because, she informed me:  “These books are all in Old English“.

    You could probably hear the tendons snapping in my neck as I struggled to keep my jaw shut.

    Those of you who have studied Beowulf in its original language doubtlessly know what I’m talking about.  Old English is not about “prithee”s and “Thou”s, and “yea verily”s.  Real Old English looks like this:

    “ac hine se modega  mæg Hygelaces
    hæfde be honda;  wæs gehwæþer oðrum
    lifigende lað.  Licsar gebad
    atol æglæca;  him on eaxle wearð
    syndolh sweotol,  seonowe onsprungon,
    burston banlocan.  Beowulfe wearð
    guðhreð gyfeþe;  scolde Grendel þonan
    feorhseoc fleon  under fenhleoðu,
    secean wynleas wic;  wiste þe geornor
    þæt his aldres wæs  ende gegongen”.

    … and with that, Beowulf didst dispatch the creature Grendel liketh last week’s coffee grounds.  Mmmm, good stuff.

    Old English, or Anglo-Saxon if you please, is much closer to its Germanic roots, and therefore looks much more … German.  In the Middle ages, as the Christian Church gained prominence, elements of Latin began to seep into Middle English.  The reason for this was that many schools and universities were run by the clergy.  Since Latin was the language of the Church, English morphed into something resembling German with Latin rules of Grammar.  This is where we start to see a split between the English of the “common folk”, and the English of the nobility.  The low-born people would use words such as: “smart”, “moon” or “water”, which are Germanic.  The educated, high-born folk would use words like: “intelligent”, “lunar”, or “aqua”.  As a result, the Latin-derived words just sound “smarter” than the Germanic, to modern ears.  This is also from where we derrive our “curse-words”.  When discussing such impolite topics such as “excrement”, or “fornication”, we use the Latinate words, which sound much more polite and clinical. You most likely already know the Germanic forms of those words.

    Middle English is a little easier to grok.  For the most part, it uses words with which we’re all familiar.  Following is my favorite scene from The Miller’s Tale:  (because I am apparently 12 years old)

    This Nicholas / was ri{s}en for to pi{ss}e
    And thoghte / he wolde amenden al the Iape
    He sholde ki{ss}e his ers / er |þt|/ he scape
    And vp the wyndow / dide he ha{s}tely
    And out his ers / he putteth pryuely
    Ouer the buttok / to the haunche bon
    And ther with / spak/ this clerk/ this Ab{s}olon
    Spek swete herte / I noot noght wher thow art/
    This Nicholas / anoon leet fle a fart/
    As greet/ as it hadde been a thonder dent/
    That with the strook/ he was almoo{s}t yblent/

    This bit of text comes to us courtesy of the late 1300s.  Old, Middle, and Early Modern English were very flexible forms of communication, and therefore constantly in flux.  The language doubtlessly went through many transitions between Gardena in Geardagum and that Aprill with his shoures soote.  But what will happen to our English of today?

    Common wisdom holds that in a few hundred years hence, people will no longer be able to understand the English of today.  Likewise, Future English will most likely be unrecognizable to speakers of Modern English.  Since language is constantly changing, our great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will form their own twisted version of the English of our forebears.

    Really?

    I understand why the English language changed so much between 700 c.e. and 1380 c.e.  Speakers of English would simply change the language as they went along.  It was like a game of telephone.  Each generation would speak a little differently from the previous generation.  Regional accents probably figured into this.  A Medieval villein from Cornwall might not even have been able to understand someone of equal rank speaking in Northumberland.  Small towns and shires would be crucibles of local dialect.  As long as Bob the Baker could understand Bill the Farmer in your local town, it wasn’t important to obey strict rules of grammar.

    But in our enlightened modern age, communication isn’t limited to localities.  We have global communication networks now.  A suburban librarian in New Jersey might have every reason to communicate with a teacher in California.  That person might use the word: “Dude” a few more times than I, and complain that I jam my words together quickly in a sentence, but the basic English is the same.  When children learn English for the first time, of course they will be modeling their speech on the English used by mummy and daddy.  But they’ll also be mirroring the speech of Anakin Skywalker, Clark Kent, and even SpongeBob.   The cultural tongue is defined by mass media, every bit as much as it is by our peers.  Yes, we will still have slang in the future, but slang is always used alongside proper speech.  When my peers used the phrase: “Totally Radical” in high school in the 80s, it never replaced the word “great” in common parlance.  Even well-used words like “cool” have assimilated their way into English without ever replacing proper English grammar.

    As for “new words for new things”, I do understand that we’ll need those too.  No one used the word: “Internet” 25 years ago, because it didn’t exist as we know it today.  Words like “telephone”, “computer”, and “fiber-optic” are newer words, but they describe new things.   Words like “chair”, “sugar”, and “esophagus” are not likely to change in the future, for the simple reason that we’re not going to have an army of Normans simultaneously conquer all of the English speaking peoples of the world.

    Are we finally seeing the solidification of the English Language? Has our mother tongue reached an equilibrium, where our 29th Century ancestors will speak something close to the same English that we do today? Yes I realize that they’ll be watching SpongeBob on a 3D neural virtual interface projector thingy, but will the language itself have changed much?

    and will teenagers still write the contraction for “you are” as y-o-u-r? [fumes]

    NJ Library Dungeonmaster seeks gaming group!

    Hi there!

    I’m back! Did you miss me? 😀

    Um, okay, I’ll get to the content. (Wow, tough crowd)

    So my latest crazy idea involves gaming in the library. You’ve probably guessed that already.  I’ve been blogging over at 8-bit Library in my spare time, and that allows me to talk about gaming in the library. Video gaming, specifically.

    But I’m actually interested in the Old School gaming of my youth.  Over at the Wizards of the Coast website, (the fine people who bring us Dungeons & Dragons) they have an entire page dedicated to playing Dungeons & Dragons in your library.  They provide links and resources that inform librarians how to start a full-fledged D&D campaign right in their library.   This actually makes a lot of sense.  Hell, playing tabletop role-playing games was one of the things that got me IN to my library in the first place!  It was immersive, it had adventure, it used historical facts and figures.   If I’m storming the castle of the Dread Lord Garamond, and I need to know how close I have to be to destroy the ghost tower on the NorthWest corner, I need to know how far a medium-sized trebuchet can hurl a boulder.  If I’m creating an adventure for my players, and I want it to have some genuine medieval intrigue and mystery, I might look to the history of the Borgias for inspiration.  Libraries and role-playing games just go together.  Libraries even have conference rooms where a group of players can meet weekly for some good old-fashioned adventuring.

    Unfortunately, my own library isn’t interested in having a regular gaming group. So I thought I’d put the call out there. I’m limited to middle New Jersey, and my work hours aren’t very amenable to gaming most of the time. But hey, I have a blog, so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Anybody interested?

    with Original art by J. Chick. (I modified it some, though) :(

    I promise that if you invite me to your library for a hosted gaming session, that I’m not a weirdo psycho crazy person that will bring shame and misfortune upon your library. I’m actually quite civil. [nods]

    Fetishizing the Library (Part 2 of 2)

    Hi there!

    So yesterday I spoke about the old school library, and how Google threatens to destroy us all. Today, I’ve got a few ideas about how to remedy this situation.  I don’t know if I have any NEW ideas, but I certainly hope to start a conversation.

    As we all know, we as librarians are under no threat from the likes of Google (or other search engines).   Google has a very clever algorithm for sorting through results, but it honestly can’t compete with a good old-fashioned librarian when it comes to getting the kinds of information that people need.   A librarian is a consultant, someone who can guide the user step-by-step, eliminating false positives, and fine-tuning the search until all that’s left are the patron’s perfect results.    This is the type of interaction that librarians strive for.  When we complete a search, and the patron is looking up at us with glowing adoration in their eyes because we’ve just shown the mastery of our research skills, when the patron thanks us, and shakes our hand and promises to send us cookies every Christmas from now until their dying day, it kinda makes us feel warm and fuzzy inside.  That’s the reference interaction that makes it all worth it.  We feel validated.  It makes all those years of slogging through our MLIS degree worth it.  In these moments, we know deep in our hearts that the world NEEDS us.  That there will always be a place for librarians, no matter what the cynics say.

    Yet I fear that these types of reference interactions are slowly becoming fewer and farther between.   With the rise of the Internet, people are simply becoming more savvy.

    I remember in the old days, when I was the only person at my workplace who understood the concept of e-mail.  I remember the questions that I used to get when I would explain to someone that they could write to anyone on the planet, as long as that other person had an e-mail address.

    “Okay, how much is this gonna cost me?”
    “Huh?”
    “[sigh] I’m sending them a letter, right?”
    “Well … yes! Yes you are”.
    “So who pays for it?”
    “Well, it’s … free”.*
    “You mean to tell me that I’m writing a letter, that this letter is going across PHONE lines, and no one’s making money off of this?”
    “Well, I guess someone is, but you don’t have to pay any–“.
    “Yeah, I don’t buy that. You must be getting scammed somewheres.  I’m just gonna type this out the normal way and use a stamp”.

    But in these days, no one even questions e-mail.  No one thinks twice about the fact that they can read newspaper and magzine articles online, free of charge.  No one questions that they can look at family photos online without going to a photo-mat.  We all just take it for granted now.

    So what happens when doing online research becomes second nature to people?

    Will this ever happen? You tell me.  Maybe I’m giving the user too much credit.  But I feel that most people know how to page through Google results until they find what they’re looking for.  I feel that a lot of people can tell the difference between a reliable, well-researched web site, and something thrown together to promote a specific agenda.   I mean sure, we all know that facts  are facts, and once you’ve determined the reliability of a source, you know that it’s the TRUTH, right? So what are the facts about climate change?  About abortion? Are human being descended from apes, or were they designed by a creator? Is marijuana a harmless drug, or can it irrevocably destroy your brain functions?  The answers to all of these questions depend on which side of the political fence you stand, don’t they?  In this day and age, it’s gotten to the point where people almost have to carefully pick through every single news item they read to determine its reliability.  Is Barack Obama a secret Communist sleeper agent bent on destroying the America we all know and love, or is he the savior of the American dream?  You probably don’t believe either of these things, but they might certainly affect the way you read a news article about him.

    This dichotomy in our country is probably a terrible thing, but I feel like it’s creating a new type of library patron.  People are more skeptical now.  We analyze information carefully.  The popularity of websites like Snopes, and of TV shows like Mythbusters, demonstrates that people crave this kind of truth-seeking information.  Our field seems to have boomed in recent years, with MLIS programs churning out more graduates than we know what to do with.  Everybody wants to be a librarian these days, because everybody knows how to find information!

    I could be totally wrong about this.  It’s possible that people are as dense as ever when it comes to information-seeking, and that we as librarians still need to serve as guides through the perilous jungles of modern library research.  I hope I’m right about people, simply because I like to think that we’re evolving as a species.  But I could be over-estimating people, right?  Even though it would conceivably put me out of a job. 😦

    So what should librarians do instead?  I’m glad you asked. [grin]

    In our last installment, I spoke about the most idealized concept of library research.  I invoked the image of an avuncular old wizard delving through dungeons in search of information.   I thought about stacks of books piled high, and Gandalf the Grey sitting there amongst ancient tomes, with a churchwarden pipe and cup of warm tea.  This is what I think a library should be.

    Now, I’m not saying that your small local library should allow pipe-smoking, and I don’t want any of you piling books in a scattered, byzantine fashion.  But what if a library were more about the space than the books? What if a library were a place where people could go to … escape?   I would love to open a privately-owned library, where people could pay a membership to just hang out.   I’m imagining a library as created by the imagineers at DisneyWorld.  Where it would be okay to sit for hours with a cup of tea and recline in full-backed antique chairs.  The kind of place where you’d expect to see a wizard rummaging through old steamer trunks stocked with maps and charts.  I want a Victorian library with great glass windows and a bust of Pallas over the door frame.   I want there to be a coffee bar with a leviathan Steampunk cappuccino machine.  Alternatively, I could imagine a library going the exact opposite way, with giant LCD screens and space-age ergonomic chairs.  A cyber-library with alien architecture and leading edge computer systems with virtual reality banks and holographic projectors wired into the ceiling. I want going to a library to be an adventure, with marvels and mysteries around every turn.

    Or … is that just a ridiculous adolescent fantasy with no possibility in the real world? 😦

    Again, if there are always going to be libraries, (and really, I hope there are) there should always be a public library where someone can just go to use a computer or check out a book.  But I feel that libraries should also be free to explore other options.  I don’t want a library to look like every other public building I’ve ever seen, with the same chairs on the same carpet in front of the same computers.  I want a library that makes me feel like I’m in a fantasy novel.  The kind of library that isn’t competing with modern online search engines, because it’s an experience, rather than a resource.  If every restaurant looked like a college cafeteria, most people would just stay home.  But restaurants today invoke a mood. Modern restaurants have themes.  I just want to apply that kind of spectacle to libraries as well.

    Is that so wrong? 😦

    So tell me what you think. That’s my latest in a long ling of completely hare-brained ideas.  A library space that instills a sense of wonder and mystery, completely separate from the local library.  Obviously there are problems with this concept, and I don’t personally have the kind of money to open up this kind of business, but I’m willing to hear criticism.**  Some of you might feel that this kind of thing would cheapen our profession, but I don’t think it would.  I’m thinking more EPCOT than Magic Kingdom here. 😉 It’s the kind of place that I’d love to spend my time. 🙂

    What do you people think?

    *Yes, I know it’s not technically FREE, but for the most part most people can send and receive e-mail without paying any kind of postage.
    ** Or, if any of you happen to know anyone that could finance this sort of thing … 😉

    Fetishizing the library (part 1 of 2)

    Hi there!

    Yeah, I had a feeling that the title would’ve drawn you all in.

    I am going to talk today about “fetishizing” the library, but I have to warn you that I’m using the much less lurid definition of fetish, so if you’re worried about this being a pervy blog entry, you can cease fretting right now.

    Still here? Good! 🙂

    Before I get into les fetiches bibliothèque, I’m going to address one of the great schisms between librarians and the rest of the world.  This might be ambitious, so bear with me.  It’s one of those subjects that librarians avoid, but is inevitable when talking with “normal” people.  I don’t want to use the phrase: “elephant in the room”, because that’s just so cliched, and seldom used correctly.  😦 I am talking, of course, about the most common misperception of librarians.

    I was at a party last year, and one of my friends said to me: “So how does it feel to be replaced by GOOGLE?”.

    I don’t think there was a loud “HAR HAR HAR” following that statement, but my brain obligingly fit it in.

    As a librarian, I had SO many ways to answer that question.  It was practically a required course for my MLIS degree. Right between “Basic Reference Services” and “Human Information Behavior” [shudder] was: “Answering Smarmy Questions About Your Field By Non-Librarians 101”.  Go to any library conference, find the largest group of people you can, and ask: “So you guys must read a lot of books all day, huh?” and wait for the collective exasperated sigh to ripple through the room in waves.  (Don’t ask about the cats-eye glasses and the bun, though, you’re risking your life on that one)

    For many of you reading this, this would be a meaningless question. Librarians are NOT being replaced by Google, and we all know that Google can’t do the things that we can do.  Ask ANY librarian, and he or she will doubtlessly cite the many false positives, hoax or agenda-driven web pages, irrelevant search results, faulty links, Wikipedia entries, and the porn, dear gods the porn.  One of the main selling points of the scholarly databases I use every day is: “These aren’t Google! This is RELIABLE information”.

    And yes, this is all true. At the present time, Google simply can’t compete with a good quick-witted librarian. Yes, we are the masters of information and the gatekeepers of knowledge and all that other elite brainy stuff.  We librarians pride ourselves on our ability to get right down into the meat and marrow of the true facts and statistics, and no slick cyberspace jockey with a search algorithm and a WiFi connection is going to take US in a fight.

    But I can’t help feeling that the very SHAPE of information is changing.  I worry that librarians as a profession are hanging tenuously to the kind of information that we know from our glory days, when we were young and stupid and getting to information was a TASK.  In the Lord of Rings, when Gandalf needed to know how to find out if Bilbo’s magic gold ring was THE ring, he got on a fiery horse with the speed of light and a hearty “Hi-Ho Shadowfax”, and bolted out to the city of Minas Tirith, and followed some poor librarian down 80 flights of stairs to a room in a dungeon stockpiled with so many books, maps, and scrolls that they must have chopped down seven-eighths of Fangorn Forest in the First Age to provide all of that paper.  There he sat with a big old cup of tea and a long pipe leafing through ancient tomes one page at a time, until he found the information he was looking for.

    Gandalf in the library

    "Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg ... yada, yada, yada ... "

    [sigh] Now THAT was library research.

    As a point of contrast, I remember a discussion I had with a friend back in the far-flung age of 1988, when the pop charts were dominated by a pretty boy from Sayreville, NJ.  My friend told me, credulously, that Jon Bon Jovi had been rushed to the hospital to have his stomach pumped, having swallowed an enormous amount of a biological substance that I won’t mention here, suggesting that the young rock star had engaged in a herculean feat of same-sex activity.

    Poppycock!” said I. “Why this is the very same anecdote that has dogged the reputations of so many other young musical talents of ages past, such as Mick Jagger and Rod Stewart!“.
    Deny it all you wish, my skeptical friend.“, he replied. “I maintain that this most recent news item is nothing less than the God’s honest truth! Harrumph!“*

    … and this is how information was disseminated** during the golden age of my youth.  Two teenagers having a debate in the streets on the bedroom activities of our favorite musician was the 18th century salon discussion of our time.  One participant maintaining that Jon Bon Jovi was a kinky same-sex addict, and the other denying it.  No further information exchange needed. Now, imagine how this conversation would go today:

    “Duuude! Didja hear about Kevin Jonas? They like totally took him to the hospital and pumped a pint of –”
    “Nah. Snopes, dude”.
    “True? Aw man…”.

    That this exchange could take place in the middle of the same street where I debated my own friend, then researched and resolved completely on a mobile device, illustrates a salient point.  Kids today, despite what many adults of my generation might think of them, are VERY competent at closing information gaps.  The very selfsame thing that we as librarians used to corner the market on.

    No, Google can’t solve everything. Yes, Google and many other search engines notoriously access many false results, and we as librarians are like, millions of times better at evaluating and discerning truth in information than a faceless sorting algorithm with relevancy ranking.  But I fear a sea-change within the field of library and information science, as young people are getting better at this whole “information seeking” thing.  Even if the current generation of young people are vaguely fumbling through the new information landscape, what happens when the next generation learns how to access and vet reliable information before they can even ride a bike? What do we do THEN? :O

    So where do we go from here? Tune in tomorrow for part 2!!***

    * Yes, we absolutely talked like this. Do you deny it?
    ** pun most certainly not intended.
    *** Bump Bum Bummmmmm!!!”

    Google doesn’t hate me after all.

    Hi there!

    Well, I finally got my GoogleWave invite. You can find me at librarianinreallife at googlewave dot com.

    So far, I could see how this would be awesome for realtime role-playing games online, and not much else.

    But I’m still exploring. Add me. 😛

    Google Hates Me

    Hi there!

    Okay, so everybody’s been talking about Google Wave lately.  In fact there’s a perfectly awesome YouTube video making the rounds, which describes Google Wave in terms of a key scene in Pulp fiction. It’s really awesome, and you should watch it. But be careful, because the dialogue is not very work-safe.

    So, when I saw this video, I was very excited to test drive this new social media platform. I feel like this is the sort of thing that I’d be pretty good at, since I have one of those brains that quickly shifts from song lyrics to movie quotes to inside humor between my friends and I that no one in their right mind would find funny.  So I was excited about Google Wave.

    Unfortunately however, at this time it is by invitation only.  The fine folks at Google apologize for not allowing EVERYone to experience the wonder of GoogleWave, but at this time, it’s still in it’s experimental stages.  So … I wait.

    Eventually, one of my awesome awesome friends on Twitter sends me an invite.  This encourages me to do a little heterosexual white man dance right in my office.  I follow the link, intending to sign up to Google Wave using my work e-mail address.  The university at which I work uses a Google interface, so I should be able to use this to log into Google Wave.  When I follow the link, it tells me: “This account cannot be used with Google Wave”.  Apparently, having an open source Google interface is not enough. I need to have an account that ends in @gmail.com for it to work.  So I go to librarianinreallife@gmail.com and attempt to sign in. No luck. “That’s odd”, I think, and try logging out and re-logging in. Still no luck. Well, this is all too confusing for me, and besides, I have to be on the reference desk anyway, so I give up and decide to try again from the ref desk.

    However, when I go down to the reference desk and try the exact same thing, I discover that apparently, the last time I was on the ref desk, I was signed into Draconius.Merlin@gmail.com. Yes, this was a g-mail account that I’d made specifically for my Second Life avatar. I’d intended to keep my Second Life separate from my First Life, and so created an account specifically for my Second Life identity.  I check that e-mail address maybe once a MONTH. It’s not related to my real life at ALL.  However, when I tried to get into Google Wave, it immediately told me: “Welcome to Google Wave Draconius Merlin!”. So … my avatar has Google Wave, and I don’t.

    So I decide to sign up for Google Wave the old fashioned way. I apply for a Google Wave invitation.  Being an honest sort, I explain to the fine folks at Google my conundrum with my Second Life avatar, highlighting the fact that this was all just an honest mistake that anyone could have made, ah ho ho hee.

    A week later, many people on my friends list are just overflowing with Google Wave invites.  The interwebs are all a-twitter with tidings of GoogleWavery.  Humbly, I ask one of my Twitter friends for an invite. Still being an honest sort, I explain to her the terrible circumstances of my LAST GoogleWave travesty and how it was a simple mistake that could happen to anyone, ah ho ho hee.  Minutes later, I get a direct message telling me that she’s sent out invitations, and that I should be getting one.

    Weeks pass.

    So I’m still sitting here in my non-Google-Wave-having poverty, wondering what happened to my GoogleWave invite. The only thing I can figure is that Google has uncovered the sordid little detail that I … technically HAVE a Google Wave account. Or more correctly, my Second Life Avatar has one. I could be submersing myself beneath the Waves of Google right now as we speak, if not for the fact that I don’t want hordes of my library friends to be on my Draconius Merlin @ Googlewave account, and then have those friends be forced to RE-add me to their account once  Librarianinreallife@googlewave.com eventually goes live. Is that selfish and petty? Probably.

    So now I’ve completely abandoned any sort of pretense at honesty. I’m like an addict searching for a Wave invite on the streets. I’m wandering cyberspace with an oversized trenchcoat, pulling the collar up over my face, asking if anyone’s got a Wave invite for me.  I just need one fix, so I can get myself straight. Just one fix, and then I promise I’ll be a lawful upstanding member of Google Wave society. Just one invite, man. One invite and then you’ll never see me again. C’mon dude …

    So, do ya know anybody?

    Grr … ARGs

    Hi there!

    Hey! Y’know what I just realized? That I can actually make BLOG posts on this site without having to stammer my way through a video every time! That’s special! 😉

    My boss just sent me an article about the various ways that academic libraries attract freshman into their library space.  Showing here: http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6703840.html?nid=2673&source=title&rid=2048373597& Although this article mentions a few different ways to get users into the library, I’m going to focus on the briefly mentioned “ARGs”.

    When I was younger, I used to write out these complicated ‘Dventures (because leaving off the initial “a” makes it cooler) in which I’d leave clues to a “treasure” all over the neighborhood and force my brother to begrudgingly find it.  I got my idea from movies like “Midnight Madness” and “It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World”. (and one episode of The Incredible Hulk which ripped off The Most Dangerous Game) I’m told that nowadays, people construct byzantine scavenger-hunt-type “Alternate Reality Games” which throws roleplay into the mix by getting people to imagine that they’re international spies, super-sleuths, or even Hitchcockian “Ordinary Men” who must uncover a fiendish plot by following clues.

    This is pretty much the kind of thing that I was BORN to do. Getting a bunch of people to do something silly and immature in the name of gaming is kind of my forte.  Making it LIBRARY-based only sweetens the deal.  There’s only two things that make me nervous about this. 1) Getting a bunch of jaded college kids excited about library research, and 2) organizing an event that requires people to sneak around campus acting suspiciously and leaving unattended packages all over the place in our paranoid post 9/11 world. 😦

    Has anyone out there had any experience in playing/organizing ARGs? I’m afraid that this would either be a project far too complicated for me to accomplish, or else I’d wind up with some pitiful little exercise where students  go on a boring little scavenger hunt for books. 😦 (or, that the first person to go through the game will muck up the clues for others)

    If I knew that actual GAMERS were going to play with this, I’d know exactly how to handle it, but these are [gasp!!] … students. 😦 I guess one alternative would be to do some kind of tabletop gaming session where people are forced to perform library searches while at the game table. The article up there even shows kids seated at a table with maps and other print resources spread out before them.  So that might work, too. Maybe a weekly game throughout the semester where students have to get me the answer by each week for the “story” to continue. At the end of the semester we give out a prize? That would be great if we get a bunch of people playing, but if there are only two or three students involved, it loses something. 😦

    Any suggestions?