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.

Drunken blog post #3

The Thursday night Linden Lab whisky tasting has degraded in the traditional way. I’m surrounded by tipy nerds, discussing the glories of JQuery. One of my co-workers is wearing a shirt that reads “The Age of Consent Tour 1997”. Nerdcore rap blares from the QA office.

Life is good.

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.

In which Metafilter links and I fret

EEE! I’m quite excited about being linked on Metafilter, but was it just me, or did some snarky person imply that the name Librarian Avengers is a possessive plural? I’m so confused. There aren’t even any adjective-noun agreement issues, and hello, avengers serves as a collective noun anyway. It’s like saying “dental hygienists” or “sports team.” This is really bugging me people. I’m wasting valuable rant time here reading linguistics texts and trying to figure this out. Besides, I stole the name from the Lesbian Avengers so am I really to blame?

Oh wait, I just realized that the snarky person was being snarky about the entry below mine. Never mind.

Hmm. Or maybe they weren’t. Hell.

A few weekends ago the charming Alexandra came out to visit. Although she, Pedro, and I all have degrees from the University of Michigan’s School of Information and took a few library and archives classes, none of us really consider ourselves librarians in any sort of traditional work-in-a-library way. This might be of interest to any of you potential library school students: Information School can lead you to choose strange and unusual jobs. Beware!

Anyway, while she was here we went out to a local sheep farm and met the nicest people, dogs, sheep, and pigs. We don’t really have access to stuff like this back in metro Detroit, so we got all excited and Alexandra took lots of pictures. And since Alexandra is a champion craftsperson, in a few weeks one of those sheep will be turned into a sweater or something. I’ve always thought that if some sort of Y2K event occurs, we are going to load up the bees in the Jeep and drive to wherever Alexandra is. She’ll take care of us. She would just knit up a nice four-bedroom house, and then cook a six-course meal out of acorns and dandelions.

If some horrible Y2K type event DOES occur, Ithaca is actually a rather nice place to be, considering the amount of locally grown food and the homebrew philosophy that sort of permeates the place. Mmm, homebrew. Gotta go.