The Only Thing This Video Proves is 3 Year Olds Can Be Coached

There is a video making the rounds in libraryland of a very cute 3 year old named Abby talking about what she wants from her library. If you haven’t seen it, I’ve embedded it below. I saw it when it first started making the rounds and thought cute, but clearly that child has been coached and so dismissed it. She isn’t telling us what she wants, she telling us what the person behind the camera told her to say. She is three,  she has no idea what she is saying.

But then it started to be retweeted, and librarians started holding it up as proof of something. Of proof we need to adapt and change for digital natives. Then I started beating my head against my desk. Because please, anyone can see this child is coached and this, THIS is your proof? If you showed this to me as proof your stance in an argument I would mock you. And you would deserve it.

I don’t argue that we need to change it is why I work so hard on the transliteracy issue, it’s why I started the blog. The struggle to incorporate new technology into libraries is well documented from both sides of the fray. This is an incredibly important issue. If we’re going to discuss it we need well founded arguments not props. Get a study, get anecdotes from adults who know what they are saying, get stats. (email me if you need these I have PILES of reports and pages of bookmarks in delicious)

But please, I ask you, no I implore you, do NOT use this video as proof of anything other than three-year old girls named Abby are freaking adorable.


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21 comments for “The Only Thing This Video Proves is 3 Year Olds Can Be Coached

  1. March 2, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    “But then it started to be retweeted, and librarians started holding it up as proof of something.” You are kidding right? All i saw was people tweeting how cute it was. I must be following the wrong (right) people on twitter.

    • March 2, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      Aaron, I wish I were kidding. Perhaps some of them just thought it was cute but yes there were people who took it seriously.

    • March 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm

      Aaron, I wish I were kidding. Perhaps some of them just thought it was cute but yes there were people who took it seriously.

  2. Robin Cicchetti
    March 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Bravo! Couldn't agree more. I was actually a little horrified.

  3. jimmythegeek
    March 2, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Why yes, three-year-old girls are freaking adorable! I have one myself!

  4. March 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Yes, I am with you there. (I asked my three-year-old what she wants in a library. She said, “yittle tiny fish”.)

  5. March 2, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    YouTube videos are serious business.

  6. March 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    This just reminded me of the Will Ferrell landlord sketch (there may be hilarious adult language by a baby): http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/74/the-landlor

    I agree that a baby taking direction doesn't prove anything. Small children can be pretty humorous or cute, but it seems a little like their being exploited.

  7. March 2, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    I like reading your blog (in fact I follow your posts!) but I don´t agree with you regarding this video (by the way, I've posted it in my blog…). This cute girl was, no doubt, coached, she even doesn´t understand what she's saying. It was a kind of 'marketing' operation on VALA (http://www.vala.org.au/index.php) Conference 2010. The issues are critical and make us think about…

    • March 2, 2010 at 6:33 pm

      Angelina – I absolutely agree that these issues are critical and we need to be thinking about them. But there are so many real world, fact based ways we can demonstrate this and start discussions. It makes me cringe to see us holding up something that can so easily be dismissed as fabricated. which would allow the issues to then be dismissed as well.

      • angelina
        March 3, 2010 at 6:22 pm

        Ok, Bobbi. I agree with your point of view but again I'm in favor of this video just because I 'see' it as a marketing product and because it's well done (and the girl is so cute, and so on) it can act in favour of our school libaries…It's my humble opinion..

        • colleengreene
          March 4, 2010 at 9:07 pm

          I too simply saw this as simply a marketing ploy to get people to think. I'd say their P.R. team did a good job, considering how much we're talking about it, regardless of what we say think it. I can't imagine anyone actually pointing to this as proof, and haven't heard that done.

          I did use the video in a presentation on Tuesday, to a group of mostly older special collections librarians and older museum/archive/local history volunteers. The topic was using the social web to promote and provide access to special collections. Most of these organizations are still working with static HTML-based websites, and are in no way poised to make their content accessible in a Web 2.0, much less 3.0, environment. My job was to help them understand why migrating to dynamically-driven web-based content is so critical, and why it will become even more critical in order to stay relevant to younger patrons.

          I started off the discussion by pointing out that this video was obviously fabricated, that it simply, creatively, and humorously raises ideas these organizations need to become aware of if they want their collections to become more accessible to younger generations of researchers.

          And the illustration worked. We devoted quite a bit of Q&A time afterward, discussing terms and ideas raised by the video (most of these concepts were quite foreign to my audience). It was my job to answer these questions and provide more credible data as “proof”. This video simply got my audience thinking.

          • March 5, 2010 at 12:58 pm

            Colleen I’m glad you were able to use it in a successful way.

            My concern is that people are pointing to it was real evidence of something. I also think that the same points could have been made in another way that was not fabricated and have had the same effect.

          • March 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

            Colleen I’m glad you were able to use it in a successful way.
            My concern is that people are pointing to it was real evidence of something. I also think that the same points could have been made in another way that was not fabricated and have had the same effect.

    • March 11, 2010 at 9:31 pm

      Angelina – I absolutely agree that these issues are critical and we need to be thinking about them. But there are so many real world, fact based ways we can demonstrate this and start discussions. It makes me cringe to see us holding up something that can so easily be dismissed as fabricated. which would allow the issues to then be dismissed as well.

  8. March 3, 2010 at 12:29 am

    I read about the controversy behind the video over at Agnostic Maybe. I thought everyone knew this was coached and that it was just a cute example. I read that people were unlinking from it like it was some hoax. If people are that gullible about something online, especially librarians, there is a lot of work to be done.

    • March 3, 2010 at 12:39 am

      I'm not sure they are gullible, but I think in some cases we are so desperate for “proof” we'll grasp at anything, we just need to be careful. It would be horrible to destroy the progress we've made in the name of cuteness.

  9. wandaedwards
    March 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you! Thank you! My thoughts exactly (except mine included cursing and rants about child abuse).

    • March 3, 2010 at 1:56 pm

      well mine included swearing & banging my head against my desk, but I cleaned it up for public consumption :-)

    • March 11, 2010 at 9:18 pm

      well mine included swearing & banging my head against my desk, but I cleaned it up for public consumption

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