The August 15 issue of Wired has an article about using “ambient information” to generate peer pressure on individuals to achieve a social good. In particular, Thompson suggests that if we make a game out of conserving energy — by publicizing our individual energy use through our web sites — that we could create a competition around reducing our energy usage.
Are there ways, I wonder, in which libraries can use a similar approach to foster library usage? Maybe build a small tool that lets library users show the money they saved by not buying the book they just read from an online bookstore? Or perhaps brag about how much time they saved by consulting a reference librarian? As more people put more information about themselves and their activities into social networking and other sites, perhaps libraries should make it easier for their patrons to publicize our institutions’ benefits.