Indexablog

Not not really, but I am beginning to index my own blog.  I have had a very hard time on occasion finding things I know I have written about here. 

I export the blog regularly, and still often cannot find what I "know" exists by opening it as a web page or XML and doing a find.  It is a help but unless I choose the exact wording, or if a made a typo in the entry, it fails.  TypePad‘s categories are increasingly uesless.  OK, they have been for a long time.  [See the eclectic librarian on indexing her blog.]

Fortuitously, next week’s Indexing & Abstracting assignment is to index another format.  Surprisingly, or not, I chose to do my blog.  Now this index is really for me, so that I can better find the things I have discussed and thus better stitch the broken thoughts back together.  If it helps others, so much the better, but that is not my motivator.

I am going to use technorati to do the heavy lifting, and have been developing my own thesaurus.  Ever the overachiever, seeing as I’m not taking Thesaurus Construction until summer.  But we did touch on thesauri in I&A, and I sketched a first start at one for indexing the 1000s of archived class and special lectures that we have at GSLIS in Real Audio format.

Of course, this is a (very) long-term project and I only have to index a few posts and answer some questions about my decision-making process on such things as depth and specificity, what is indexable mattter, etc.

My thesaurus is still in the rough stages.  I have thought about many of the issues I need to consider, but most aren’t "documented."  I need to re-look what I’ve done so far, make some "final" decisions, do some more authority work, and so on, and then document it all.  So you proabably won’t see many being indexed right away, even new ones, unfortunately.  Or you might see some partial indexing.

Anyway, if anyone who is doing the same thing (with or without a thesaurus) and has some definite suggestions, warnings, or even questions, please feel free to comment here or contact me.  Email address on About page.

I am aware of the great work at Library clips on this and related topics, and of a few other sources I have bookmarked or have in del.icio.us, but if you are aware of a great how-to intro on how to accomplish this task, again, feel free to send it along.

Note:  Notice I haven’t indexed eclectic librarian nor Library clips, as I haven’t quite decided how to handle blog name authority work, nor individual name authority either.

I absolutely love the library I left

I want to make very explicit my thoughts on the library I left.  The other night I made some comments related to managment and driving "techies" away in a personal anecdote.  Those comments cannot be allowed to stand by themselves.

I absolutely love that library, its people, and its patrons.  It flows through my veins, particles of its dust are exhaled in every one of my breaths, and my heart beats to its rhythms.  I honestly believe that will be true until all of those processes cease.

Some of my best friends and "family" members were, and in some cases still are, there.  The people who nurtured and encouraged my desire to become a librarian were/are there.  The people who gave me my wings and allowed me to soar and figure out how to contibute in my own way were/are there.  Same for the ones who encouraged a "lowly" staff member to submit a proposal for a conference and then willingly came to provide audience feedback as I prepared my presentation. 

A selected few faculty and staff members quite literally kept me alive through the darkest period of my life with their love, support, and caring.  My blood family cannot even begin to imagine the debt they owe these people who nurtured me on a daily basis for several years.

The patrons that I was able to help really taught me the beauty of service.  I already had an amazing service attitude from my jobs within the military, but that was primarily mission-related.  But to see the light bulbs go off and have that light shine forth from some undergraduate’s eyes "simply" because I had shown them the power of an index as a research tool.  To receive the gratitude of a faculty member because I had been able to facilitate the ordering of a book they needed.  Or to get an article up on e-reserves in a more than a timely manner, even though they had procrastinated for far too long and knew it.  To see an ancient emeriti faculty member light up because I addressed them by name, although they had left the university years before I arrived.  All of these and so many other things taught me the beauty of service.

Just when my son started college half a country away and I got divorced and lost daily (weekly…) contact with my high school daughter, the library gave me the opportunity to be a peer of many students the age of my children.  I, too, was an undergraduate and student worker and my hours working with these amazing "kids" was a most incredible opportunity.  I made so many friends and even picked up a few "family" members.  While I was never a "typical" undergraduate, my relationships with these kids allowed me to get so much closer to that experience.  This special nearness (of being a peer) allowed me to do much more active role-modeling and mentoring than pretty much any other adult could provide these students.  It was a privilege and an honor to serve with these amazing young adults.

And it now allows me to pretty much sneer at all the ridiculous gen-gens that I see proliferating in the library "literature," both in print and online.  Sure, some generalizations can be made.  But the people making them have spent no real time with them.  Anyway, enough of this; it is another post.

I served my patrons, my library, and my institution as a student worker, as a student supervisor, and as "paraprofessional" as a Library Technical Assistant for 6 years.  I had the keys to the building for most of that time.  While I was a student/supervisor, and a because I was a "townie", I worked almost every single holiday that the library was open.  Often it was the only thing open on campus on those holidays.  As a staff member, my hours got shifted so I could be there on Saturdays to ensure that the library opened on time in case our student supervisors didn’t make it in.  Even as a student supervisor, that often meant that I was the ranking campus representative on duty.  It was a privilege and honor that many either do not understand or take for granted.  Year in the military hones that sort of implicit knowledge of your institutional role.

Over the 6 years I was there, I opened and closed the library more than any other individual, hands down.  Its rhythms are my rhythms.  I emptied book drops when no one was supposed to be working because they had to be or the books just got left outside the drop once it was full.

I served for 2 1/2 years as a student representative to the University Library Committee, a Senate level appointment.  For most of that time I was the only student representative.  As a staff member, I served on 3 faculty search committees, one for my own boss.

I was nurtured, I was professionalized, I was mentored.  It was an incredible experience and a privilege to work with so many wonderful people at all levels, and to serve our patrons.  I will never forget it.

But then there was the other side.  Luckily, it only consists of a very limited set of people, but they are the ones at the top.  It was those very few who drove me and so many others away.  And they are still leaving; those who can anyway.

A short few months after I left, I was visiting (as I have done many times since) and another staff member (a definite techie), in the presence of several other staff members, told me, "Mark, thank you so much for giving me the courage to do what I must.  I’m finally leaving, too."  It tore my heart to pieces.  But I fully understood. 

There are still many wonderful people there.  They are my friends, my family, my mentors, my role models.  But many others have moved on, even though that is where they wanted to be.  If only things could be different.

This needed to be said.  Some people often act as if what another says is the definitive truth of the matter as to how the speaker/writer feels.  Life is never that simple people; it is incredibly complex.  Human communication does not allow for all the necessary nuancing that often should take place; not even the best means of communication does, but certainly not blogs.

I am proud to soon be entering the ranks of "professional" librarians and look forward to new and different experiences, but some of those past experiences that I cherish so much will never be repeated.  That is the price of becoming a "professional."  I said it before and will again, if I could have afforded to live I’d have happily stayed a staff member.  But I could not.  Now, please don’t misunderstand me (see the previous paragraph), money is not the only, nor primary, reason I made this move, and I am glad that I did.  But there are experiences and opportunities that I had and were available as a staff member that will not be as a "professional."  Certainly, there are other new and exciting ones that will become available.  It’s just a trade-off is all.  But I am certainly glad that I got the chance to serve in an academic library at all the levels I did; it can only inform my "professional" career in a positive way that most librarians cannot fully understand.

So no matter what I might say, please keep in mind that I love that library, its people and patrons with all of my being.

Oh, what I’d give to be able to open those doors just one more time….

Change in summer plans

Updated with link to "Education for a Lifetime." 1 Apr 06

Through some personal evaluation and the help and support of some very wise women (friends, mentor, advisor, hopefully soon-to-be advisor), I have changed my plans for this summer.

I am definitely taking 590TC Thesaurus Construction with Pauline Atherton Cochrane.  First, because I would be a complete idiot not to take any class with her that I can! 

I did not stick my neck out on the line fighting for our emeriti faculty just to ignore them.  And that doesn’t imply that I have to take every class offered by our emeriti faculty but, besides fighting for their opportunity to teach and for the rest of the current and future student body to have the privilege of learning from their immeasurable experience, I also did so for my own opportunities.  I wanted this class by Dr. Cochrane and I also wanted Indexing & Abstracting by her.  The 2nd one did not work out, but I have to say I am really enjoying I&A with Frank Kellerman from Brown.

Second, I am begining a new degree program and there was the question of when I actually will start it for the official paperwork. 

Third, although based on my current GA contract I am employed until August, and won’t have to take any classes as normally required of GAs since I’ll have graduated, if I want health insurance and clinic benefits, etc. I need to be registered for 4 hours at some point this summer.

Thus, I’ll graduate and be back in class the very next day for 4 weeks. 

I had planned on taking Steve Oberg‘s Technical Services class over the main summer semester, and the timing really is perfect for several reasons.  But, I have to move this summer and it would be during that class.  I do not personally believe in "blow off" classes, but tech services is very important to me for several reasons, most of which should be clear if you’ve read my blog for more than a day or two.  Nonetheless, I doubt I could give it the attention it deserves and move at the same time.  "What," you ask, "didn’t you do the same thing and on an even shorter notice during your 2nd semester of library school?"  Why, yes I did.  Which is exactly why I’m not doing it again if I can avoid it.

The other main reason is that I have been at this higher education thing since Fall 1998 when I started full-time on completeing my undergrad degree after "retiring" from the Army.  I have had exactly one semester off since then.  I took off Summer 2001 after graduating with my BS and was not yet employed by the university.  If I had gotten employed in time, I probably would’ve taken something on their dime.

As it was, for the 3 years that I was a university employee I took 2 classes every semester while working full-time.  Some I audited, some I took for grades.  I earned 36 hours of credit during that time, with about  the same amount in audited hours.  None of which was ever intended to transferred or aplied to any degree program, and in fact has not been.  It was, as I have said previously, one of the most liberating experiences of my life.  But I need a break!  [Why, oh why, can't I find the reference I'm looking for?  Which is answered by, start on the indexing project.  I can't seem to find what I was sure I had posted, and or at least commented on, so I'll soon post the continuing education and "most liberating experience" references soon.]

On Mother’s Day (about 6 weeks) I will be a certified Librarian (can this really be true?), but the next day I will begin what I consider to be an even more important educational adventure towards really becoming the librarian that I want to be.  I have a good idea what that is, but it isn’t perfectly clear (and probably shouldn’t be!).  But I do need to focus my ideas more.  I only have 40 semester hours to do what I want educationally, at least on a serious full-time basis.  I know many students consider 40 hours a lifetime, but to me it is practically nothing.

I need to decide if I really want to give up 20% of that time to learning about surveying and processing survey data for my project, or if I can still do my project and learn the research methods I need in some other, less formal way.  I need to decide if that is really the project I want to do.  I like it, I think it could be enjoyable, and I think it is needed.  But I have come to the cynical conclusion that it really wouldn’t make the slightest impact; doesn’t seem like a good start for something so important.

So I’m taking a "break" over the larger part of the summer to regroup, reinvigorate, and re-motivate myself, all while moving of course.

I hope to accomplish the things I just mentioned and also maybe do a large amount of personal and professional development on my own.  I have books and articles to read; Svenonius is frantically whispering in my ear.  I hope to share much of this with you all, and then reenter classes in the fall with a much better idea of what my goals really are, both short- and long-term.

On the use of fangirl/boy and squee

Recently, Dorothea Salo of Caveat Lector used the word ‘fangirl’ in regards to Lorcan Dempsey.  That use got commented on in a few places (it’s all good, Family Man Librarian), and she followed it up here.  I then used ‘fanboy’ the other night in reference to Rory Litwin and then in a comment in reference to Walt Crawford on the same post.

Disclaimer:  I have absolutely no pop culture credit to use such a word.  I get the gist of it (denotation), of course, but I probably misunderstand the connotation(s).

I was basically just riffing on Dorothea’s use.  I was trying to be a bit lighthearted in a rather serious discussion, and maybe trying to feel just a bit more hip than I do on a daily basis.  But truth be told, I don’t consider myself a fanboy of anybody.  I just am not the celebrity or hero worshiping type. 

The closest I get to being a fanboy of a still living person would be with Ani DiFranco.  But that is because I absolutely adore (most) of her music.  It has provided so much meaning in my life in difficult times.  I respect the messages in her songs and the messages she sends by her actions in the world.

Having read a bit more around the web about the use of fanboy/girl and based on comments here, I’d like to offer the following:

First, I don’t imagine you’ll see me using it much anymore.

Second, I am and am not a fanboy.  It all depends on how you parse it.

Here’s Dorothea’s initial comment:

But I got to Lorcan Dempsey’s talk this morning, and he came down, saw my nametag, and shook hands with me, so I’m all fangirly and stuff. (I refuse to feel silly about being a Lorcan Dempsey fangirl, because Lorcan has a posse of CiL fanchildren. I don’t know if he knows it, but he does. I can give him names!)

This is what I initially said about Rory Litwin:

This post was hard for me to write, because while Lorcan Dempsey may have fangirls, you have at least one fanboy (if someone nearing 50 can even be a fanboy).  See the above excerpt on community for why.  And, no, I’m not a fanboy of you per se.  We haven’t yet met.  It is of your "voice" and your intelligent writing.

Here’s part of Walt’s comment at this post:

As for being a fanboy over, oh, 30, I’ve got a good decade on you, and I’ll say it was a considerable pleasure to meet Lorcan Dempsey, for example, although I’m not sure the pleasure would rise to "fanboy" level. (Meeting Tim Berners-Lee might have qualified, if I hadn’t been sharply skeptical in person about one of his pet notions, the Smart Web. It’s hard to be a fanboy when you’re disagreeing with someone…)

Here’s most of what I said in response to Walt:

Heck, I’m a fanboy of you too! But my description of "fan" is probably different than most people’s. I really am not one for celebrity. I could care less about most "celebs," and even those I do care about I don’t need or want to know who they are dating, what their views on some political question is, etc. To me, being a fanboy means that upon meeting someone I admired I probably would end up saying something inane like, "Ooh, I really enjoy your blog," instead of something more meaningful that leads to discussion.

When I met you at the OCLC blogger salon at ALA Annual 2006 I told you I was the one who had sent you a link to the CEA press release …but probably didn’t say much of merit after that.

I certainly meant no disrespect to Lorcan. I wouldn’t describe myself as a fanboy of him, but I DO highly respect him and would love to meet him also.

And while I agree with you that it’s kind of hard to be a fanboy while disagreeing with someone, I’d want to nuance that a bit, because we will always disagree with any specific individual on some topic. Thus, I might want to say something along the lines of the disagreements should not be over substantial areas of why we are a fan in the first place. I think your Tim Berners-Lee example is perfect in this case, and for me it is for the same reason. [Emphasis not in original.]

Walt’s reply:

Hmm. Defining fanboy the way you do, I’d say I was a fanboy at the first Blogger Salon and, to some extent, the second. Lots of smart, interesting people whose thoughts I’ve been reading in what appears to be fairly unvarnished form, and most of whom (not all, but probably 95%!) I can disagree with, without things getting disagreeable. What’s not to like?

Exactly!  What’s not to like about that?

Then Rikhei chimes in (and at this point, you are *not* off topic as this is the turn the comments clearly took):

I’m sorry to get so far away from your original post, Mark, but I am inspired to confess that I am a huge librarian fangirl myself. I’m actually pretty embarrassed by my behaviour at the ALA 2005 bloggers’ salon: I found myself completely unable to utter anything other than "hi" when I discovered myself in the elevator with Roy Tennant, Walt Crawford, and Karen Schneider, and couldn’t bring myself to say even that to most others, including some librarians that I dearly wanted to meet. Strangely, I find this phenomenon almost strictly limited to librarians.

Over the past few days of my non-continuous, mostly partial attention and this morning with a bit more breathing room, I found these:

Alane at it’s all good (Actually I knew about this one last Friday.):

And thankfully, many people blogged his talk about metadata in a Web
2.0 world(on Technorati, use the tag CIL2006 and "Lorcan" and you’ll
find all the mentions) so now I know what he said. Dorothea of Caveat Lector, though, wins hands down, for her remarks. "Fangirly" has been added to my vocabulary.

Here’s Steve Oberg of Family Man Librarian:

And I particularly got tired of the "fangirly" comments about — gush — actually being able to — gush — speak face-to-face with the Library Gods (a.k.a. aforementioned Mr. Dempsey, among others).  Yes, I’m being sarcastic. 

From there, go check out the comments. Some really good stuff by everyone.  Discussion, clarification, and nuance as it should be, and not just about ‘fangirl’ and ‘squee.’

I think Dorothea makes an excellent point, and Steve Oberg agrees:

No worries; I wasn’t offended.

I guess I’m a little disappointed, though. We’re not allowed to be excited about other people in our profession? We can’t admit a thrill at meeting people who shape it?

Sure, squeeing is more than a little sophomoric. But “I deeply respect so-and-so because of her N years doing X…” is BORING. Librarianship has enough of the boring. I don’t think slipping it a little of the squee is a bad thing.

There are, or at least should not be, any rock stars in our profession.  There are people we (as individuals, and sometimes collectively) respect.  It may be for their minds, it may be for their contributions to the field, it may be because they are a warm and decent human being who is happy to give of their time, ….  We should promote these people to each other, we should laud them, we should express our admiration.

But that is a very long way from believing every word they say, it is very different from "luving" them.  It does not mean we’ll become their bulldog the first time someone else criticizes them.

Good Lord, if we can’t appreciate each other in this undervalued profession, then what is left?  I am not a martyr!  I’ll work for peanuts.  I’ll make myself physically and mentally ill for the right mission and boss (well, maybe not again, but I have).  But, dangit, I want a little bit of props once in a while, and I believe that we all do.  We deserve it, and we owe it to each other when it’s honest.

I fully understand what Rikhei and Walt said about the first OCLC Blogger  Salon.  While I may not be embarrassed about my behavior, I would say that I was unhappy with myself.  I did talk to several people, and a few made it far easier than others.  But I also walked around a lot not saying anything to anybody.  And some folks who I did want to talk to didn’t seem very welcoming.  I’m not naming any names and I honestly think that everyone was a decent person.  It’s just that some were more welcoming than others.

But, yes, I definitely had my squee moments there and in a few other places and times in my life.  Then, in others I haven’t.  Part of my problem isn’t necessarily squee, it is often more like I am not worthy to take up this person’s time.  Maybe they would rather be talking to So-and-so….  Silly?  Maybe.  But many of us feel that way when we meet people we admire.

But Rikhei, you really should talk to all of those folks (and more) that you mentioned.  I did not spend a lot of time talking with Walt and Roy Tennant, mainly for the reasons I just mentioned.  As for Karen, well, I found her to be exceptionally warm, easy to talk to, and encouraging.  I actually had several conversations with her.  Maybe the known past military connection helped to break the ice, but she was (is) wonderful.  I really, really wish I could remember (after several glasses of wine) exactly what she said later in the evening when we were discussing "my voice" on my blog.  Heck, I didn’t even know I had one.  She was extremely encouraging and it may have been the highlight of my conference. 

I have no idea if this is ‘squeeing’ or not, as it is another word I shouldn’t attempt to use.  But it is truly heartfelt. 

So, my point?  I see no harm in being a fangirl/boy and maybe squeeing a bit around our peers that we admire.  A little unabashed respect can’t hurt.  Hopefully, though, the object of our admiration will make it easy on us to quickly move past the squee stage to actual dialogue and the sharing of knowledge and interests.

Or to see it put more eloquently, see Dorothea’s followup, "Starchless Blogging."

Sorry about all the meta-blogging.  Just trying to work through some pop culture I don’t fully understand, and trying to rehash an actual conversation that took place out here for once.  If there were others that commented one way or the other that I missed, I’m sorry.  But, honestly, there has been a whole lot of non-continuous, highly partial attention on my part lately due to school/work issues.

I love the Midwest!


  Pale purple delicacies 
  Originally uploaded by broken thoughts.

Today it was over 70 degrees out and I wore shorts to school.  On 30 March.  The Midwest is awesome some days. 

I just wish I had realized it sooner in the day.  I could have sat outside and wrote those lengthy blog posts this morning.  Just wasn’t expecting it.

I walked in and took almost 20 photos of lots of different little beauties.  Most of the crocuses and all of the snowdrops are gone.  But now the early jonquils and daffodils are blooming, along with other little beauties to warm a boy’s heart.

By the way, does anyone know what these are?  Maybe I can find them in my field guide when I get home, but I almost always prefer asking my trusted info sources than looking up an answer.

tags technorati :

Something stinks in my country

News from the BBC yesterday:

Ahmed Omar Abu Ali gets 30 years for conspiracy

"Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, but Judge Lee
said that Abu Ali’s actions "did not result in one single actual
victim" and no weapons were found in his possession."

Disgraced former US lobbyist Jack Abramoff has been jailed for nearly six years for conspiracy and fraud.

Oh, the horror!  He’s been disgraced of all things.  In his case we’re talking 10′s of millions of dollars and thousands (at least) of victims.

Please don’t misunderstand me, especially you spooks out there.  I am not advocating terrorism nor assassination.  But if Ali deserves 30 years, so does Abramoff.  Honestly, there’s a far bigger disgrace here than poor Jack Abramoff’s.  Hmmm, I wonder how many politicians (on both sides) butts have been saved by such a light sentence.

Remember kiddies, in theocorporate America it is perfectly OK to steal from and for politicians, and even better if it is from those pesky Indians, but you had best not ever even think about assassinating his Highness the President.

Further discussion, responses to Jenny and Alex

Responses to Jenny’s and Alex’s comments on "How to lose your tech librarians and Rory Litwin: Some thoughts," which was a response to Jenny’s comment on "Rory on "Questioning the Techie Mission."  This discussion was also furthered along by Jessamyn at librarian.net.

Jenny’s comment:

And you get the marquee again, because I seriously appreciate those who make me think, even if it, and maybe especially if, it is to challenge my views.

Thanks for these well-thought out comments.  I guess the best way is to kind of go paragraph-by-paragraph.

I fully agree with your 1st paragraph.  Maybe I didn’t nuance my point enough.  I certainly don’t think there are real librarians who accept ALL technology.  That’s not the point.  It is the unquestioning acceptance of any specific technology.  And as to whether the finer points of del.ic.ious vs. spurl vs. Connotea (just as an example) are debated is also not the issue.  It is the unquestioned acceptance, or one-sided discussion of benefits, for the need of said technology that is at issue.  All technologies have positive and negative impacts on those who use them, those who don’t, and on the world.  What is extremely rare is any honest discussion of anything other than the benefits to users or potential users.

2nd para.  I generally agree with what you say here.  It is complex and highly difficult, but what I am advocating for above must be (tentatively) attempted even with "unproved technologies."  Of course, it is an ongoing process.  The most benign seeming technologies may later be discovered to have a most nefarious use, thus it is an ongoing process.

As for who we are attempting to attract, I’m not sure if you mean as patrons or as future librarians, but I’m going with patrons.  I’ll be addressing this soon (I hope) in more detail, but I think this is a classist response based on the inherent classist bias of the studies that lead to gen-gens [generational generalizations].  Maybe, Urbana Free and Champaign Public and many of the other libraries that librarian bloggers work at have these sorts of (potential) patrons in their communities.  But read about Jessamyn’s efforts to educate seniors on how to use a mouse, or to take the grand step to emailing their grandkids [an example].  These sorts of patrons are everywhere.

So there certainly is some validity to implementing some of these technologies in certain libraries, but only based on one’s own patrons and communities.  Of course, this simplistic answer is seriously complicated by the fact that many communities are highly mixed along various factors that influence the tech savviness of potential or current patrons.

There does seem to be a preponderance of voices in the biblioblogosphere that are arguing for ALL librarians and ALL libraries to just wake up and get on the bandwagon now and start IMing, start doing podcasts, have a blog, and so on.  Once in a while, they’ll slip in an "but it’s really about your users."  But, as Mr. Litwin was trying to point out, take a look at the rhetoric.  It is rarely nuanced as it should be.

3rd para.  "…technology needs no help from us… However, we could use some help from it,…."  I certainly agree, and I have no doubt that Mr. Litwin would.  Again though, the point being, what are the reasons for the use of a specific technology?  And what are the reasons one might not want to use it, and were they even considered?  And I am not referring to using a different piece of software (or whatever0 because it is cheaper, is open source, or whatever, but of the consequences of its (or a similar products) use generally.

5th para.  True.  No contest.  There are cases where services are not being provided, even easily and cheaply, because they do involve some sort of (higher) technology.  I don’t have an answer to the "Michael Gormans" of the world.

6th para.  On need to serve both sides of the digital divide.  I can’t say that I disagree.  But.  And this is a big but for me.  While we (and rightfully so) serve those on the "positive" side of the digital divide, the gap just grows wider and wider.  And there are serious issues of power and social justice here.  And I have issues with that; for many reasons. 

I really like my iPod, my surround sound home theater system, my laptop, having a car, and so on.  But many, many Americans (much less billions of others in the world) will never have any of these things.  Our lifestyle is simply unsustainable.  And in the process, we will make human life on Earth unsustainable.   If "Western culture" would simply self-implode I wouldn’t care so much, but it won’t.

I certainly don’t have the answer(s).  And in many ways I am a hypocrite [See the (short) list of possessions.]  But, nonetheless, these issues of social justice, power, and sustainability concern me deeply.

7th and 8th para.  "Few people outside of academia/libraries/publishing care about books. Sorry, it’s true. They do care about getting info easily tho! They like renting dvds and video games!" 

Sorry, I cannot and will not accept that first claim.  The data from library circulation stats (of books) and from the publishing industry (worldwide) simply do not support any such claim.  It is completely untenable! 

As for the last part and para 8, yes, it’s true.  I’m sorry, I cannot answer as to why it has taken 30 years to get video games into libraries (and only a few at that).  Part of the reason may have something to do with the again classist assumption that ALL Gen Xers grew up with video games, although that does not answer the why question in areas where that generalization is highly correlated to the community.

Penultimate papra.  "Seriously, no one thinks all tech is good, specifically those of us who work with it every day.  Who are these people?"

Again, the who likes ALL tech is a strawman argument.  No one has made (or at least intended to make) that claim.  [I refer anyone to my Disclaimer on the upper left sidebar.]  I do, unfortunately, often talk (and write, in "looser" forums such as this) in vague, universalist ways.  It is a very old habit that I have yet to discover how it arose.  And, yes, I often believed many of the silly universalist claims that I made. 

But I have since learned to the very depths of my being that there are few (and maybe none, but I won’t go universal here) universal "truths," "facts," or whatever you want to label them.  The human world, at least, simply does not work that way.  The argument is about the general tendency towards acceptance of technologies as useful.  This trend is not universal, and it affects people to different depths, but without serious and extended conscious effort on one’s part this trend is inherent in our technological society [See Jacques Ellul on this.  And, yes, Ellul has some definite limitations, but his analysis of this part of the technological system is correct.].

Alex’s comment:

First, let me say thanks for comment and that I think it adds to the larger discussion.

I had saw your comment (when exactly, I’m not sure) over at librarian.net.  And I have to say that I agree.  As for what I missed, well, I beg to differ, but I didn’t miss it at all.  That was the point of my mostly extraneous personal reflections, which I added for some context.  I didn’t leave because of the technology.  I left entirely because of management decisions, or lack thereof.  I thought that was clear, but maybe not.  I do admit to being somewhat vague; for many reasons.  Maybe I was wrong, but I thought that part was somewhat clear.

As to why I didn’t make it explicitly clear, it was peripheral to the question.  Jenny asked me what my thoughts were on Mr. Litwin’s post in reference to the "lose your techie" lists.  I don’t see any explicit connections between management issues and his comments.  Yes, many of the lists do comment on these aspects of the problem.  And some could (and do) argue that Mr. Litwin’s views are what leads to this bad sort of management.  To any causal connection, I say bullshit!  Questioning of technology is not directly connected to bad management, nor does it causally imply that technology will not be embraced.  It is the socially responsible and morally proper stance to take.   And it, questioning, is a managerial function.  What specific managers do with the results of their questioning, and even how they do the questioning, is causally disconnected from the need and responsibility to do it.

I feel your pain, Alex, I really do.  I am not a "serious" tech person, as are many of the people I read or have worked with or go to school with.  But I did start out as a major in applied computer science, which I dropped to a minor after completing all of the CS coursse.  I code web pages, and try to do so to standards.  I teach workshops to library school students on making web pages and assorted topics.  I broadcast distance ed classes for my library school and do my utmost to provide a good tech learning experience for my very special patron base (my fellow students) and received many sincere compliments on my ability to make these issues clear.  I provided electronic reserves to a university campus for 3 years.  I have given presentations to over 90 people on Voyager e-reserves.  I am learning XML and mutliple metadata standards, and so on.

But I don’t write in python, or any other programming language.  I don’t do mashups, etc.  These are all things I may well need to learn, and possibly soon.  But I do agree that our field has some serious issues; one of which you brought out in your comments here and at Jessamyn’s:

I have *many* examples of this exact thing happening; developer X (a specialist is Y) suggests we do Y but gets overruled by librarian Z (who does *not* know too much about Y, and certainly have little real-life experience with it), often on the basis that they ‘don’t think that will work for us’, because libraries are special, etc. It is so astoundingly naive! I’ve spent 17 years of my life building up expertise in certain fields, only to be "taught" by librarians who’s read about this somewhere and think they know much about it, that what I’m a specialist in won’t do X, Y or Z. Amazing.

I wholeheartedly agree with you on this one.  I don’t understand the why of it though.  I have some guesses, but no real understanding.  Part of it, at least in academic libraries, is that many librarians have at least 2 masters degrees and are considered subject specialists.  But honestly (imho), that is a complete joke.  At best, most overeducated librarians are semi-focused generalists.  The attitude may come from our supposed *humble* mission to organize all of the world’s knowledge.  It may come from ideas of a Western liberal arts education.  It may come from….  I just don’t know, but you are correct. 

Librarians, the world’s best generalists, seem to treat most other experts as highly dispensable.  Heck, we’ve collected and organized your expertise so we can just look it up.  I have several friends who are systems librarians or staff (don’t get me started on that one) and I see it all the time.  I alluded to it in my personal anecdote.

But, I don’t think I missed that point either.  While many folks deferred to my expertise and I deferred to theirs where appropriate, the (librarian) senior management would not defer to the expertise of any of us.  I just made the point by personal anecdote as it was causally peripheral to the question at hand, at least as I saw it.

Ok, that’s enough on this one for now.  I need to move on and address other comments on other post and bring out some other topics, some of which were hinted at here.

Of course, I don’t mean to squelch discussion.  I’ll be happy to continue it if need be.  I just mean I need to move on at this moment as my morning is rapidly running out.

Thank you both very much for this discussion!  Thanks to Rory Litwin for starting it, and to Jessamyn West for adding to it.

Heck of a day…

…but it ended well, and had some good parts in between.

Ran over to Bloomington/Normal and spent about 45 minutes with one of my best friends ever and mentor [nice combination] and then visited with my daughter for about an hour and a half.  Went to the dentist and raced back to Champaign-Urbana for work and class. 

Raced to finish my back-of-the-book index and get it turned in before class at 6:45.  I guess I’m OK with it, but I really wish I had about another 20 hours to put into it.  It is seriously overindexed in some areas, and seriously underindexed in others.  Ah well, it was a very valuable learning experience.

On the way home after class, I stopped at Crane Alley and had 2 Guinness and some exquisite crab cakes and wrote the previous post, except for the links.  Crane Alley would be near perfect with some free wireless.

Thank you to everyone who has been making comments or sending emails over the last day or so!  Even though I now need to switch to other school projects that are looming [no rest for the wicked here!] I’m giving myself a "break" tomorrow.  I’m going to try and get caught up with some discussions here and in a few other places.

And talking ’bout discussing, boy oh boy, do I ever have some things to say.  I’ve been so busy with indexing lately that I haven’t had much time to process a lot that has been going on.  But, man, did my mind ever let loose today on my hour trip over (and back, but to a lesser extent) to BN!  If only I had a mind recorder, I’d have books, dissertations, and theses to publish.  Unfortunately, I won’t be able to remember 80% or more of it, and what I do remember won’t be said near as eloquently. <sigh>

Nonetheless, I got me some stuff to say.  Stuff about things.  Stay tuned.  Now it’s almost midnight and I need to take some time to calm the heck down from a busy, stressful, but joyous in many ways, day so I can get some sleep.

See you all tomorrow.

Teach your children…

[Title courtesy of CSNY]

I had some wonderful discussions with my daughter today.  Issues she is having with her mother came up and, thus, we got into parenting.  Seems Mary (the ex) is sorry about some of the things we did or did not do as parents. 

With Sara graduating from college soon and entering "the real world" (her term, not mine.  I used to use it, but no more.) we talked a bit about her losing the support of her friends; the people she has relied on the most over the last 4 years.  She brought up how she is a bit scared of losing this support group, but that one thing she has learned is that she is good at quickly making friends, so she can deal with it.

I mentioned that the frequent moving was one of my parental concerns over the years, but that I had always consoled myself (and tried to console Mary) that it made the kids good at quickly making friends, and learning that often in life the "good ones" do move on. 

See, Mary grew up in the same house until she graduated from high school and left to become "surrogate" mom to her eldest brother’s 3 kids at the ripe age of 18.  I moved a few times as a kid, but the main formative years were spent in one location.  Either way, we both grew up in safe, secure neighborhoods surrounded by people who would look out for us in one manner or another.  We were able to roam reasonably freely and widely, and got the lay of the land for miles around.  It was a very stable and steady influence.  My kids did not have that in any sense.  Mary and I often worried about the effects of constant moving on them, considering that our childhood and adolescence were vastly different.

This discussion with my "baby" girl really heartened me.  She is happy with what she learned from the frequent moving.  She does not regret that she did not have a (geographically) steady life.  She had plenty of close friends who did, and they often discuss such things.  She figures why regret what she didn’t have since she can’t even begin to imagine what that would have been like. 

Both of the kids learned to make friends quickly and, often, deeply.  They have learned to value those friendships no matter how long they may have together (geographically).  Another thing they both, thankfully, learned was to be good judges of character.  Making deep friendships quickly with the wrong sorts, which was an equally plausible outcome, would not have been a good.  But we all got lucky on that one, I guess.

Sara and I discussed a few other things about what Mary and I did "right" and "wrong" in our child-rearing.  The main thing was that Sara is generally happy with what we managed to do despite ourselves (my words, not hers).  Have I ever mentioned how much I love this kid, and how very, very proud I am of her?

One thing that came up, due to one of Mary’s regret, is her (Sara’s) religious upbringing or, more accurately, lack thereof.  Mary was raised Catholic, but wasn’t really practicing when I met her.  I was raised Southern Baptist and have been agnostic since long before I met Mary.  So we just kind of avoided any specific religious "training" of our children.  We figured they could choose when they were ready.  We were happy to let them go to church with friends, and so on. 

Sara’s regret is definitely not that we didn’t indoctrinate her into some belief, but that we didn’t give her a broader cultural understanding of various religions.  Her most critical "complaint" is that she has no cultural grounding in the literature of the Bible.  She does not get cultural Biblical references.  Her other "complaint" was that being at a school with many, and having many friends who are, Jews she knew nothing about Judaism.

Now, I agreed with her that on this count we "failed" her.  I couldn’t have fully done so back then.  But, and Sara does realize this, we were in no good position to provide that sort of education.  What the heck did white, middle class, Midwestern  kids who were born around 1960 know about Judaism?  Other than over 6 million Jews died in the Holocaust, we had no cultural or societal references.  I don’t know about Mary, but if I knew any Jewish folks I did not know it.  I certainly did not know any practicing Jews.  Nor did I see them in my neighborhood or schools.

As for the Bible and cultural references, well, I was not in the right place mentally, nor was I properly educated at the time, to realize the vast amount of Biblical cultural references, nor to respect the Bible for the great literature that it is.  Heck, as recently as my divorce (1999) I still did not.  But I quickly "got religion" as they say.  I got a Bible or 2 in the divorce and immediately donated them to the library. Or maybe I threw them away.  I honestly don’t remember. 

But after a few years at an institution of higher learning and embarking on a quality liberal arts education I came to realize the value of the Bible as a reference source and as the great literature and guide to living that it is.  I also learned some honest history of its coming to be, which further cemented its value on those counts into my mind while simultaneously cementing the belief that it cannot be the word of God.  I quickly rectified the lapse in my collection and bought a good (used) KJV Bible complete with concordance.   And it gets used on occasion.  I would also, someday, like to re-read much of it as the great literature that it is. 

[On a side note, related to my comments on surveys from Tues night, I recently saw a survey from some Christian organization that was basing claims on how overwhelmingly Christian the US is based on the number of Bibles owned.  What a completely stupid claim!  Anyone who tried to imply anything based on my owning a Bible, other than that I own a Bible, is a complete moron.  The fact that I do reflects absolutely nothing about my religion, my religiosity, my spirituality, or anything else, other than I own one.  It would be like claiming that anyone who owns Marx is a communist, or that anyone who owns Mein Kampf is a nazi.  Simply ridiculous!  Oh, yeah.  Idiots do make those claims though.  <sigh>  An interesting thought, though, is that it is often the same sort of people making those claims who want to make claims based on my owning a Bible.  Hmmm!]

Anyway, we were not prepared in many ways to give our children the broad cultural education in religion that they deserved.  Now, Sara has rectified some of that on her own.  She took a comparative religion class in college, and she took at least one class in Japanese religions, or maybe just Shintoism.  But I do feel the pain of failure in her lack of cultural references to the Bible.  She does realize that she does have some control in that she could, and should, invest the time to read it on her own.

So, all in all, I left with my heart singing after talking with my beloved daughter today.  We mostly did OK, even better than OK.  She is an incredible young adult and I could not be more proud of her.  By the way, for many, many years I gave all child-rearing credit to Mary.  She was, thankfully, a stay-at-home mom and she did an incredible job!  I still give her much credit, but I now [and my children make sure of it] take some of the credit.

Sara is confident.  But not in some stupid "false confidence" [see my comments here] that is claimed for the rest of her generation.  Yes, she and her older brother were much more constricted than their mother and I were.  Yes, they had bike helmets….  But they were both challenged.  They both were in gifted programs.  They took AP classes and tests.  They were challenged.  They DID NOT get gold stars because ALL the kids did.  They were taught to challenge themselves, and they learned that failure, sometimes deep and painful and possibly with serious consequences, happens to us all when we chase our dreams, or even just the object of our immediate attention. 

Neither she, nor her brother, are some stupid list of what their generation supposedly is.  In some ways, yes.  In many ways, not at all.  And some of those yeses, well, you need to know their history because it matters.  All that crap about growing up completely wired, playing games, blah blah.  Yes, they both play video games, now.  But neither one of them started playing these games until late in high school.  And so on.

Is there any question as to why I get so offended by all of the pop sociology that passes for gen-gens?  [Thanks again, Walt!  By the way, did you take it out of your post?  I wanted to link for attributional purposes but I couldn't find it, even with Ctrl-F.]  ["Gen-gens, generational generalizations.  Walt Crawford.]

And lest anyone wonder, I so very deeply love, and am proud to the depths of my soul of, my son.  But for vastly different reasons.  And while my daughter and I may be at the top of our relationship "game," and my son and I may be near the bottom (but recovering) of ours, that has absolutely no effect on how much I love, or am proud of, him.  I only wish he’d believe that.  Or maybe I should say feel it.  I know all about the disconnect between knowing, believing and feeling [See very end of post.].  They all have their places, but often in personal relationships the feeling is vastly more important.  Hopefully all three are present simultaneously, but if I had to choose one, sign me up for the emotion.

Who could have guessed that the hour and a half spent with my daughter could have mattered so much.  For once that stupid phrase, "quality time", also part of her and her brother’s generations, actually meant something.  Quality time indeed!  And now I’m sitting here in a bar trying not to cry, but not really caring if I do.  Sometimes my heart simply breaks from the sheer amount of love I have for (adult) children.

I be Guinness

 

Guinness

(66% dark & bitter, 100% working class, 100% genuine)

Okay, we all know Guinness is the best possible score on any "What Kind Of Beer Are You" test, so you can just go on and pat yourself on the back now. Like the world’s most famous brew, you’re genuine, you’ve got good taste, and you’re sophisticated. What else can I say, except congratulations?

If your friends didn’t score the same way, get ready for them to say: Guinness is too heavy; it’s an acquired taste; it’s too serious–and they probably think those things about you at times. But just brush ‘em off. Everybody knows Guinness is the best. Cheers.

 


My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
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You scored higher than 25% on dark
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You scored higher than 94% on workingclass
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You scored higher than 51% on genuine
Link: The If You Were A Beer Test written by gwendolynbooks on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Now a few years ago I’d have been one of those folks offering excuses.  But thanks to my friend, Nav, I gave Guinness another try.  And I fell in love.  I don’t drink much else anymore.

Found thanks to my friend, "triumphantly, jenny," at our drinking problem.  Talk about stereotype busting.