In the Lepkie and Hopkins article, p. 352, there is talk about, "Libraries have traditionally been idealized as a spatially unrestricted communal meeting ground for all members of a pluralistic society, a shared site where people of various classes, ethnicities, religions, and cutlures, mingle to create the 'heterogencity of open democracy.'" There has been much written about this concept in our readings. Yet, I keep wondering, "Do all these different kinds of people really mingle? I enjoy observing people in libraries. I rarely see all these different kinds of people interacting, or engaging in public discourse and debate at the library (unless there is a class in the library). Just because many different kinds of people are together in a space (a space with enforced quiet, where many are trying to study or read, an individual activity), does NOT mean people are debating with each other. Often what I see are people who are alike (be it by physical appearance, age, etc.) sometimes talking to each other; I rarely see different kinds of people hanging out together and engaging in discourse. The same thing happens in the undergraduate college, but that is another story.....
Also, Jom brought up an illuminating concept of technology providing a comfortable space for those who may not feel comfortable speaking up in an oral situation (due to language, culture, physical disability, etc.), in effect creating a marginalized group. Yes, we see it in our own class; the native English-speaking people speak up quickly and rapidly, and the international students, although extremely intelligent and articulate, can feel more relaxed and comfortable on the weblog, where there is more time to think, collect one's thoughts, and write them down. Technology as an avenue of expression for a marginalized group (though I am not fond of that term; it has some negative connotations for me). Even I have said to some friends, "You speak faster than I think!" and I am a native English-speaker!
It is fascinating to think how technology may indeed provide a public space for the expression of so many people who have important things to say, but may not have said them in a face-to-face situation.