We had our very first state-of-the-union post last year in April. In it, we offered you, our readers, some blog stats and introduced some of the new features for High Browse.

This year, we’re doing it a little different. Along with some blog stats and some interesting new features we’d like to try, we’re going to look back at the things we didn’t manage to do. In addition, we’d also like to share with you new directions we’d be heading for this year and why. But before we do all that, let’s get meta, take a step back, and ask another “why” question: why do we want to share all this with our readers?

Meta Knight says, “You have much yet to learn.” Sounds vaguely ungrammatical …

There are several key reasons:

  1. We have no idea what to write so we write inconsequential fluff like this to meet our targets. [Just kidding.]
  1. “Why” is the most important of the questions used for gathering information.
  2. Somebody wrote a book called Start with Why. We thought that’s a pretty good idea.
  3. Very recently we uncovered definitive proof that we have not been talking to bots and spiders all this time: one of our posts was taken down for internal review. Although it was reinstated within 24 hours, that historic incident highlights the need for us to share with our readers – both internal and web-wide – why we do what we do.

High Browse Online started in 2005 as an online complement to a print publication with the purpose of eliciting responses to reading recommendations presented in both the print and online versions. Fast-forward to mid-2011 when both Wan Ni and myself came on board. It’s a mere six years, but it was a different world. In that time, Twitter and four generations of iPhones were launched; MJ died, William and Kate got hitched, Obama became President of the United States, and Osama got got in Pakistan. Oh, and scientists created a functional synthetic genome and built the Large Hadron Collider.

Using the Large Hadron Collider, scientist discovered the Higgs boson particle, aka, the "God Particle." Nothing whatsoever to do with this post.

Using the Large Hadron Collider, scientist discovered the Higgs boson particle aka the “God Particle.” Nothing whatsoever to do with this post.

Something else had also been –and still is – happening: people, particularly  in Singapore, were apparently reading less and less (reading for leisure, not work or study) and public libraries in various parts of the world were reported to be – and perhaps still are – going the way of the dinosaur (see examples here and here). With the endless cuts in funding for public libraries everywhere and the internet and technology invading all aspects of our lives, it makes sense, right?

Not so fast. Recent studies and surveys (such as this and this) turn the whole story completely around: people apparently still highly value their public libraries, and they’re still reading as much as before.

So depending on who you talk to or what you read, the act of reading (particularly books) and public libraries are either moribund or as healthy as they’ve ever been. Well, there goes our faith in our ability to know exactly what’s going on in this world.

In a world hurtling towards the Internet of Everything, everyone – Luddites, tech freaks, and the rest of us in between – is going to be exposed to an endless and ever-increasing stream of information and ideas whether we like it or not. It’s going to get noisy. It’s going to get confusing. And it is precisely in this climate that High Browse firmly places itself.

If everything is connected, then ... nothing is?

If everything is connected, then … nothing is?

We’re not about books; we’re not not about books. (Replace “books” with “libraries” or “reading” and you’ll still be right.) High Browse is about

  • dialing it down,
  • filtering out the noise, and
  • pointing you in the general direction of interesting, reliable, and potentially crucial information and resources.

We could  talk about books, films, music, e-books, e-journals, e-newspapers, databases, blogs, tweets, pins, YouTube videos, fiction, nonfiction, children, young adult, adult, stuff in the Public Libraries, stuff not in the libraries (but should be). If everything in our lives is to going to be connected, then High Browse is ready to write about anything that’s relevant to people who love knowledge. (That’s you, right?)

This ties in with the view of the librarian as an information professional, not some bespectacled despot behind a desk, shushing anyone who makes a sound, who thinks life can be understood via the Dewey Decimal System. Eclectic, insightful, and relevant; High Browse aims to be all that.

[Part II coming up shortly …]