It’s 4 am and I’ve got some sort of low-grade headcold. I can’t sleep. The only advantage to being awake in my house at 4am is the cat is so! happy! to see me! He’s overcome his usual aloofness and has wrapped himself around my neck.
We’re back from Austin, where much fun was had. SXSWi was twice the size as last year, which means it lost some of its outsider geek charm, but it made up for it with better programming, better planning, and a greater number of women both presenting and attending. There were actually lines in the women’s bathrooms this year, which I choose to see as an indication of a brand new influx of women in the I.T. professions.
Achoo. Ok, the cat is now upside down and dragging himself along the underside of the couch like a furry rock climber. It’s zero degrees outside and I have to go to work tomorrow whether I want to or not. People wear parkas here. Here’s some links.
Sheldon is a great webcomic about a 10-year-old dot com billionaire. I met Dave the author at one of the many social functions which have now blurred together in my sleep-deprived brain. I recall him being very funny. So’s his comic, so check it out. Start a few weeks back so you’ll catch up with the whole Zod thing.
There was a good dragon this year. Every year Cornell students build, parade, and burn a huge dragon. Dragon Day is a tradition, dammit. A century-old tradition that only makes the campus police slightly nervous. They skipped the riot gear this year, to the relief of all. Also, a giant rabbit was involved. I can’t believe I spent the last week complaining that nothing happens in Ithaca.
This is broken is a bad interface blog. It’s just like hanging out with an interface designer, except without the annoying tendency to critique interfaces while others are trying to enjoy themselves. Sorry friends and family. (yoinked from sivacracy)
Finally, you’ve been reading 50 Books haven’t you? Well why not? What, you don’t like books?
My ex-professor and information architecture guru Peter Morville is in town promoting his new O’Reilly book, Ambient Findability, which I’m going to buy and review, whether you like it or not. For all you digital librarians out there, he had a slide showing some attractive ladies that was meant to illustrate how metadata is sexy these days. Not exactly librarian strippers, but better than nothing.
I also caught the end of the web comics panel, which was so popular I ended up enjoying it from the floor in the back. Bill Barnes from Unshelved was talking about the future of his comic, and how webcomics can become financially self-sustaining. I recommend everyone buy his books RIGHT NOW. Bill also showed up at one of the parties in his library FBI jacket, wowing the geeks.
I met one of my favorite writers, Heather Armstrong from Dooce.com at a local coffeehouse along with fifty of my fellow slathering idiots. Heather was, of course, funny, kind and gracious. I was, of course, a big dork. Meeting your favorite blogger is an inherently awkward social situation. But not as awkward as last year when Chris’ mom asked us why we haven’t gotten married yet. In front of three of my coworkers. Several times. Really loud.
Seriously though, I have an enormous gratitude for Heather and for the story she tells. There are so many women in my generation who are trying to create a unique existence separate from the ones we were raised with. I’ve got a small family and I’ve always felt that I haven’t had many examples of women doing what I want to do, living a modern life, living a creative life, becoming mothers without losing themselves in the enormity of the endeavor. Heather, along with several of my friends and other women who write about their lives, have allowed me to consider possibilities that I wouldn’t have had enough information or inspiration to consider before.
Last night I wisely avoided the nuclear tacos, and went to Trudy’s for Tex Mex instead, along with my savior Jenny Benevento. The Google party we went to afterward had hired a terrible dj who was spinning hits from what sounded like an MTV Party to Go cd. Everyone scuttled next door to the Adaptive Path party once the free drinks ran out. Geeks are fickle.
There was an attack of librarians at SXSW this year, with several library-related panels on topics like digital preservation, information architecture, and the Google Book project. Carrie Bickner-Zeldman, whom I just learned graduated from SI right before Chris and I, did some mad moderation in the digital preservation panel. The panel succeeded at keeping a roomful of hung-over geeks awake at 10am and engaged in what can be a pretty numbing topic. It was nice discussing digital preservation with such an interdisciplinary group – and it generated some potential technological solutions. One of my favorites was Josh Greenberg’s suggestion that we harness the popularity of software like Blogger and WordPress to allow individuals to take charge of their own digital preservation, rather than waiting for the Big Library In The Sky to come along and scoop everything up. Considering it took librarians years to emulate the BBC Domesday laserdisc, a deep web-wide solution could take awhile.
I admired the panel’s ability to keep the conversation from degenerating into that sort of self-involved acronym-riddled institutional naval-gazing that librarians can fall into when they are left alone for too long. I also admire Carrie’s ability to translate rambling half-coherent questions from the audience into something interesting. I don’t remember them teaching that at SI, but I wish they had.
The whole experience reminded me how much I enjoyed studying digital preservation and librarianship in the first place. After an extremely bad experience at the Cornell Libraries Research department, I was pretty burnt out on the whole library thing. Joining my current I.T. team was such a cultural relief (I can swear at work again!) that I really kept away from the Major Library Issues. You may have noticed that it’s been mostly jokes and media reviews around here for the last few months. I’m not sure I ever want another feet-first jump into libraryland, and I definitely still identify as a User Experience Designer, but I did enjoy the morning of library geekiness.
And on that note, some great lists on the topic of How to Lose Your Techie Librarians.
Liz Henry from BlogHer describes how to hide content on the Internet:
“Obscurity through verbosity”
I think this also explains the reason why many academic websites have trouble finding readers. Digital Librarians take heed! Avoid unnecessary words.
Thank you to Jenny Benevento, the resourceful librarian who saved me a few seconds ago as I desparately searched for a knife to cut moleskin for my poor beat up feet after a run-in with some sandals last night. It was a pretty weird coincidence, since I was literally in the process of sending Jenny an email about meeting up tonight.
Or maybe it wasn’t a coincidence. I supect the number of librarians carrying useful tools in their bags is significantly higher than you know, normal folks.
Just a reminder. Stop by for librarian buttons and bitching about metadata.
Here’s the info.
I’m back from webgeek megaconference South by Southwest in steamy Austin, TX. For all y’all librarians out there, SXSW Interactive attracts designers, web standards cheerleaders (closed tags, closed tags, rah rah rah!), and I’m-famous-online types for five days of geek panels and heavy drinking. One of things I got out of the conference was a strong feeling of guilt for not taking better care of my website. So, once my headache subsides you can expect big changes. Big!
Until then, I’m just glad to get back to the cat and my G5.