About the Blogger

This is I.

Hi there. My name’s Jessie Mannisto, and I write this blog. Allow me to introduce myself and share a little of what has shaped and continues to shape my perspective on the digital revolution.

My Work and Education

I’m currently the Google Policy Fellow at the American Library Association Office for Information Technology Policy in Washington, DC. I think this blog helped bring me to that position, as I am currently studying (as one of my projects) the impact of our constant connectedness on our work, quality of life, and thought processes, and the implications for our educational system and economy.

In April 2011, I graduated from the University of Michigan School of Information, where I was studying library and information services and information policy. As you might expect of an iSchool student, I’m interested in all the ways that all this information we get is changing our lives and our society. I also completed a graduate certificate in science, technology, and public policy at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. STPP students learn to do technology assessments, which is a skill I’m trying to apply to the information and communication technologies that I study and work with every day. I was also the web content writer and research assistant for the STPP website that I linked above, as well as a student reference librarian at U-M’s Hatcher Graduate Library and Shapiro Undergraduate Library, where I provided both in-person and virtual reference services.

Sometimes I did feel like I was a small minority at my school in that I was at all hesitant, or even critical, of certain developments in technology. Some may see the word “library” in my field of study and jump to the conclusion that I must be anti-technology because I don’t want big buildings fill of books to disappear before I can get a job in one, but those people likely aren’t aware of how much the library field is changing and evolving, and how librarians are some of the most technologically engaged professionals out there.

My Technology

I consider myself a digital native. I know there are scholars working hard at determining exactly what that term means, but at the very least, if I’m not a native, I have little memory of the Old Country. I don’t remember ever not having a computer; I created my own fonts and icons on our Amiga 2000 at age 6 or 7; when I was 12, I was the kid talking to college students through Usenet; when I was 15, I was featured on CNN because I was one of those Millennial teens using exciting new Internet technology that wasn’t quite ubiquitous yet. I’ve had a web site now for over half of my life. I’m a Linux user.

I have been a fan of computers and the Internet for as long as any 28-year-old can have been. It’s from the perspective of someone steeped in the culture that I’m evaluating—and now sometimes criticizing—the digital lifestyle in which I find myself.

Despite being a digital native, however, I do not want and do not have a smartphone. My mom offered to pay for one for me so I wouldn’t be embarrassed amongst the other Google Policy Fellows. I assure you that I am not embarrassed. People keep telling me it that when they got the smartphone, it “changed their life.” (I’ve heard that at least three times.) But I don’t feel that my life needs a change, and I’m not at all sure that there would be a net gain in my quality of life if I got a smartphone. I’m not saying I won’t get one eventually; I’m not vehemently against them. But I don’t see being an “early adopter” (not that it’s early at this stage…) as something inherently desirable. As evidenced by this blog, I like to think carefully about my technology use. One day I might decide it’s time for a phone, but feeling like a freak amongst the Google Fellows wasn’t a good enough reason. (And while many of them seem to think I’m nuts, if amicably so, I have fellow iSchool students who agree with me on this.)

Other Stuff About Me

I lived in Japan 2004-05, working as a guide at the U.S. Pavilion at the 2005 World Exposition, and then again 2007-09 as a participant in the JET Programme. まだ下手ですが能力試験二級を合格したので日本語が話せると言えるでしょう。I like writing stories and you can read some of those at Skygawker.com, my writing/personal web site. I like roller coasters a lot. If you want to know more about me, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at azilie at skygawker dot com.