Back to Danny Sullivan’s keynote. Mr. Sullivan announced a new, personal asceticism. He told the group that he would not waste his time on companies that might fold and disappear in the near future. Mr. Sullivan wants to associate only with the winners. He thinks Google will be bruised by the current financial crisis, yet it will somehow find a way, amidst its billions in profits, to soldier on, and to vanquish competitors. I thought that I could sense the relief in the room, given the collective investment among librarians in the verb “to Google.” Mr. Sullivan assured the audience that nothing was on the horizon “to Enron” Google, and possibly cause a precious verb to become defunct.
Contrast Mr. Sullivan’s view with a comment by Bruce Lawson about the competition among companies that offer internet browsers: “If there’s no dominant leader, everybody wins.” This sounds progressive, until you read that Mr. Lawson also views capitalism, and corporate competition, as a “war.”
Mr. Sullivan’s examples in his keynote address were telling, as have been the ones that have been uttered by presenters the past few days. Mr. Sullivan brought out his iPhone during his presentation to make some points about software that he uses to find restaurants. Many presenters assume that the population has ready access to iPhones. Not even one per cent of the world’s population has an iPhone. The iPhone happens to be popular among many people involved with high-priced technology, and others who want to show that they are on the first wave of technological trends, i.e., at least some of the audience at IL.
Yesterday, Mary Ellen Bates used some examples in her presentation about searches on the internet, and her examples involved ATMs and Starbucks. These examples tell an ideological story that needs more attention at IL. When Mr. Sullivan says Craigslist is “lame,” he means that it is provincial in comparison to the kinds of things to which he and his audience have grown accustomed, but it also reveals a clever rhetorical move that generates a sophisticated simultaneity. Call it class un/consciousness. That is, a presenter can mention an item that generates class recognition (class consciousness), while also not foregrounding the audience’s own privileged status. The speaker does not want the audience to recall the billions of human beings who will never drink at Starbucks, use an iPhone, or be able to afford the monthly charges for an ISP (class unconsciousness). How easy is it to forget that only five years ago, a $34,000 per year salary put someone in the top 5% of all wage earners on the planet? We at IL are quite the fortunate group.
From another blogger at IL, Robin Hastings, I learned that there was a session devoted to librarians who devoted extra energies to help what the blogger called “underserved” communities. We all know the code embedded in that adjective. The librarians at that particular session also worked with people in prison, and the prisoners’ families. I hope that Mr. Sullivan was in the audience of that session.