Work at the Mortenson Center facilitates globalization in the global library context. Their work to provide training is done in a culturally sensitive way. In the BBC informational session, Susan Schnuer, in talking about participation in IFLA, observed that “in many ways worldwide flow across time and space goes in one direction, from developed countries and multinational corps to rest of world.” In being sensitive to the unique needs of any particular library around the globe, Susan is promoting the Mortenson Center’s mission to “strengthen international ties among libraries and librarians worldwide for promotion of international education, understanding and peace.” This sensitivity is also evident in treatment of Moldovan public librarians, who had taken a Western idea and tried to make it work in their own library, but were steered toward developing their own programs with their own communities in mind.
Additionally, Rebecca McGuire’s SILL project also adheres to the mission, in that target communities are encouraged to use a revision cycle of implementing programs that ends up with the best results for the community.
Because, as Susan said, Mortenson is a Northern organization, and this tends to mean that flows of information tend to be unidirectional, I see where some would see the Mortenson Center as an imperialistic effort to inject Northern ideals of librarianship into the South, I feel that the checks and balances in place keep the organization a viable, effective means to aid groups that can benefit from the expertise of highly trained mentors.
Reference: BBC session, “Globalization and the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs”
In our globalization class, we’ve been reading about cultural flows and global flows of people (migration in particular). As I read about the plight of undocumented immigrants, I was reminded by a recent read: The Leavers by Lisa Ko. I did a post for my book summary blog for The Leavers, which is the story of a mother and her child who are separated by immigration authorities, and the emotional aftermath that ensues as a result–the child, Deming, is adopted into a white family, but he essentially becomes a rudderless vessel as a result of the trauma. The book won the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. In an interview with Hyphen magazine’s Melissa Hung, Ko notes that a white reader was skeptical of the events in the story, saying, “But this would never happen. This doesn’t feel believable to me — that an Asian child would experience this amount of racism nowadays.” Ko wrote her book based on a true story! (Hung, 2017).
In reading the novel myself, and in connecting the story to reading from our Ritzer and Dean text, I appreciate the cultural and global competence that these experiences afford. I teach in a high-immigrant community, and see firsthand the effect anti-immigrant legislation under our current government administration has on immigrant American citizens and their families. I grew up in a middle-class white home in California, sheltered and oblivious to the struggles of people who have come to this country to escape, to survive. As a teacher, and then a librarian, I have 10 plus years of experience, but it wasn’t until Silicon Valley Reads (regional literacy program) focused their 2015 theme on immigration and I read NoViolet Bulawayo’s (2013) We Need New Names and The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez (2014), then INFO237, when we covered the importance of cultural competence, and now in this globalization class, that I’ve really moved toward increasing my understanding through reading first-hand experiences and novels that illustrate true stories. I am convinced that this deepening understanding/awareness makes me a better teacher librarian and a better global citizen.
We are reading about economic globalization. One of the readings assigned is a January 6, 2017 New York Times article by Cecilia Kang and Katie Benner, “Russia requires Apple and Google to remove LinkedIn from local app stores.” The main idea that I took away from the article is this quote: “Tech companies and civil rights advocates warn that the increasing push by nations to create their own internet rules will Balkanize the internet and potentially lead to privacy violations and the stifling of political dissent. ”
This all stems from what is seen as an invasion of privacy by governments like Russia and Turkey who want their citizens’ data stored in the homeland. The issue is seemingly unwarranted control.
But I wanted to get a better feel for this whole LinkedIn bit. Why is LinkedIn refusing to comply to Russian law when many other companies have “caved” to Russia’s demands so that they can continue to operate in Russia? I found that the Nabi Abdullaev’s December 8, 2016 Forbes article, “Why Russia’s LinkedIn ban is not about Internet freedoms” helped me understand via an alternate perspective. Abdullaev points out that Russian laws are similar to those in many other countries. Also of interest is the author’s statement that Roskomnadzor (the “the relevant regulator and internet oversight watchdog”) just wants LinkedIn to amend its data collection policies, wherein“not only personal data of its users but also personal metadata (IP-addresses and cookie files) of its website’s visitors”is collected. Abdullaev notes that Russia is trying to protect its citizenry, since unlike the U.S., and more like EU regulations, “certain types of cookie files” are defined as personal data.
We in the U.S., under the Protect America Act, allow the government a pretty incredible amount of data surveillance. I’m not surprised by Russia and other nation-state’s desire to keep its citizens data out of the U.S. when our citizens must trust that our government’s access to data is all for the good.
Note on the image: I knew I wanted to write about this, and I like to create a title to capture attention. I thought about the old meme, “All your base are belong to us” and did a little research on that in Wikipedia. The image that I used popped up, and I couldn’t pass it up. Did you know that an unidentified group of April Fool’s Day pranksters scared the citizens of Sturgis, Michigan in 2003 when they posted signs with the meme around town. “Police chief Eugene Alli said the signs could be ‘a borderline terrorist threat depending on what someone interprets it to mean.'” Very interesting…
In my reading from INFO281 (Seminar in Contemporary Issues: Globalization and Information) this week, I got a look at globalization theories. I was particularly interested in Manuel Castells’ Network Society. Perhaps it is because I was inundated by neoliberalism, or that I couldn’t help but equate Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s Empire theory with Star Wars— Emperor Palpatine and the Rebel Alliance and all. Whatever the case, Castells’ Network Society theory was like a breath of fresh air, because I felt like it resonated with me. It’s not because “technological change exercises underlying causal determination in the myriad of processes referred to as globalization” (Robinson, 2007, p. 132), although that does play a big part. Honestly, I appreciate a theory that, rather than focusing on the economic or political pieces of globalization, sees something like advances in technology making an impact on the various, interconnected parts that make up what is, to my budding understanding, globalization. The reason it resonates is because I, in my role as a teacher librarian, thoroughly embrace Sir Francis Bacon’s famous saying, “knowledge is power.” Part of the theory of Network Society is the idea that the economy is knowledge based.
So how does that relate to network neutrality? Well, the September/October 2017 issue of American Libraries includes a news article, “ALA fights for an open internet” (p. 8). Part of librarianship for any librarian is the support and championing of freedom of information: as ALA president Jim Neal notes, “Network neutrality is all about equity of access to information.” It’s necessary to support the 2015 Open Internet Order, which puts in place rules that protect access to information. The article’s author reminds readers that “access to the internet and other library resources empowers all to participate fully in today’s digital economy.”
The language current to most of today’s school standards focuses on students that are able to function in a digital environment, with the understanding that today’s technology does empower as it breaks down barriers to knowledge (see AASL Standards for 21st-century learners, 2007 and NGSS “The need for standards” & Monica Burns’ 2015 Edutopia article “The Common Core and digital skills development”). All of the standards recognize the fact that successful students are prepared for life in a highly technological society. In order to support these students, it’s imperative that knowledge is accessible, that it’s not restricted by government and commercial internet service provider interference.