Face front, true believers!

Face front, true believers!

I love the way Stan Lee addressed his readers with such an intimate and glorifying phrase. True believers! Sure, you were just reading a Spiderman comic book, but he implied that this act joined you with a like-minded group, and certified your character as loyal and faithful.

I poked around looking for an appropriate “Face front” image, and found this poster in the Soviet Museum‘s digital collections. If you have a bit of time, check out the collection of pro-Lenin fairy tales.  I also found an associated grumpy thread on Metafilter, comparing the ubiquity of this style of propaganda art in Soviet Russia to something like garish ads for fast food and grocery store mailers.

Face front, true believers! Today is beautiful, and we will face it with the resolution to do good.

 

Bookbinding Tattoo, concept art

Someone asked me where I found the art for my nonexistent biopsy scar-covering tattoo, and I thought you guys might be interested…
This came from a series of 18th Century bookbindings. It’s too elaborate for reality, perhaps, but I liked the idea.

This was intended to cover a scar that I have grown rather fond of. The tattoo plan was scrapped, but the concept was good.

I sampled my skin color from a photo, isolated two different florets from book covers I found in a digital library collection, overlapped them, messed with transparency, did a color mask to match a brown ink, and then chickened out at the last minute.

For more on why I didn’t get a tattoo, please see this very special episode of Red vs. Blue.

Technorati Tags: tattoo, book, bookbinding, librarian, nerd, geek

SXSW Interactive 2009 – Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research

Happy news! I was invited to be a panelist at the South by Southwest Interactive conference next month, as part of their ScreenBurn track. bendoverbackwards.jpgI’m on a panel called “Funologists live and in person: Guerilla Game Research.”

I’ll share my experience starting some low-budget user research cycles for Second Life, and my work translating those frustrating observations into shippable engineering requirements.

There will be pretty pictures, and possibly cake.

The cake is a lie, but you should stop by anyway. There could be cake.

There certainly won’t be cake and not cake. Not at the same time, I can assure you.

Ethnically Librarian

I am a librarian. I am not a librarian.

I have an information science degree. I’ve been working for fourteen years, my entire adult life. Most of my jobs have been in libraries.

I am a librarian. I am not a librarian.

emdot
photo by emdot

As a student at Michigan State University, I learned Library of Congress serials cataloging.

I walked through secluded aisles surrounded by rare books, incunabulum, alternative newspapers, and gay pornography.
I cataloged comic books in the world’s largest archive of comic art, radicalism, and popular culture.

In the course of my work, I learned that Spiderman serials change their volume as often as many Spiderman readers change their underwear. By graduation, I could walk into any comic shop in the country and pick a fight about whether X-Men film adaptations should be considered canon.

When I went to graduate school (Michigan ’03), my program had recently transitioned from “Library Science” to “Information Science.” In the process, they picked up a bunch of renegade computer science professors and expanded to include information architecture, information economics, archival theory, and a bunch of crazyass dot com bubble refugees like myself.

sh0dan
photo by sh0dan

We discovered that the term Digital Library can be used to describe an entire array of cool shit, including the Internet itself.

One of my professors, Sue Davidson, tells the story of how Yahoo cofounder Jerry Yang called to ask about the subject guide to the web she had created for the Michigan Electronic Library. Sue answered: “that’s what librarians do, we organize information.”

Librarianship, defined as the act of organizing information, is a broad and inclusive field. Librarianship as a profession, is not. There are strict professional guidelines determining who is and is not technically a “Librarian,” but there is also a strong case to be made for the authenticity of self-identification.

There are librarians who work in libraries, and there are librarians who just Are.

It’s the difference between being a Jew by Religion, and being a Jew by Ethnicity. Both groups contribute to the cultural whole.

While a Librarian by Profession is inherently a Librarian by Ethnicity, the opposite may not be true. A trained librarian can sport a different job title, but her clarity and understanding will still contribute to her work.

by Syntopia
photo by Syntopia

I’m a librarian by ethnicity.

Right now, I work as a user experience designer on a software team. I wrestle with ship dates, dependencies, conflicting user requirements, and engineering constraints. I design interfaces and help identify how the software should behave.

But somewhere, deep in my soul, I am doing the work of the Library.

I’m a librarian by ethnicity, regardless of the job I take. I don’t make my living as an ALA going, patron-helping organizer of resources, but I’ll be damned if I don’t use Librarian skills to battle confusing groupings of information.

Librarians bring order to chaos, and so, with a little luck, do I.

Another Data Mob at Freebase – Ethnicity

Wanna enrich some data? Got OCD? Tired of trying to get a foot in on popular Wikipedia entries? Try helping out with Freebase.

It’s a database. Of stuff. Free stuff. You can mush it however you like. You can compare stuff. You can edit it. And this week? This week you can join a few hundred of your fellow data nerds and join a data mob.

The topic is Ethnicity

Here’s an update on the current state of the datamob. Go forth librarians! Go forth and link up nodes! For the furture! For the children!

On Graduating from School and Getting a Job

I was crawling through my archives this morning and came across this little rant that I wrote years ago, during my first, horrible, post-grad school job at the Cornell University Library. I know several of you Gentle Readers are in school right now, and I thought you might enjoy the sentiment:

First of all, and lets just get this out of the way: a full-time job is actually a pretty shoddy reward for 2.5 years of graduate school stress.

Yes, I’m grateful and all, glad to be here, nice to meet ya, etc. but frankly, I think I was looking for something along the lines of “congratulations on your degree, here’s your houseboat, now get out of here you scamp.”

I suppose having a stable schedule and slightly-more-realistic paychecks is reward enough, but lately I’ve had to face what seems to happen any time you put enormous effort into something. Which is, a rather slow transition into something different that requires enormous effort.

Like learning not to scream when someone suggests you attend the Metadata Working Group Meeting.

Yahoo! Games picks up video game based on Macauly Library sounds

snapshot.pngNYC game developers Large Animal Games have created a downloadable PC video game based on bird sounds and expertise provided by the Macaulay Library at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology.

Which is where I work.

The game is called Snapshot Adventures. It was recently was acquired by Yahoo! games, which is a great for both the Lab and for environmental education, since part of the money it earns will directly fund our ecology work.

picture-3.png You can play it for free here.