Friday, January 20, 2006

"Interest Groups Are The New Geography"

In a piece from Fast Company called Ambidextrous Exec, Steve Murphy, CEO of Rodale, Inc., makes an interesting statement:

Interest groups are the new geography. Because of the Internet, old paradigms of demographic analysis and segmentation -- by sex, age, household income, and especially zip code -- are meaningless. People are gathering around their interests. The more we can identify those interest groups the better we can serve them.
My experiences on the internet support this claim. I'm part of several online communities based not on geography, gender, or socioeconomic status but on personal interests. Old barriers are breaking down, but I wonder if new ones -- just as seemingly impenetrable -- are being erected. Instead of hanging out with people of the same race, gender, religion, and/or income level, will we hang out only with people who are into the same music or have the same hobby? If so, we'll still miss the great diversity of this world and still become balkanized.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Straight Dope on Public Libraries

The Straight Dope just posted a great history of public libraries -- Straight Dope Staff Report: How did public libraries get started?. I've been a librarian for nearly 14 years, and I learned a few things. What most surprises me, though, is the question that prompted the report -- from a 25-year-old who doesn't understand even in general terms how public libraries are funded. Clearly we in the library profession need to do a better job of educating our users if this question is any indication of the public mindset.