Discussing geek speak with The Austin Chronicle

A lovely fellow from The Austin Chronicle wrote to my fellow South by Southwest panelists asking for a definition of our enigmatically titled presentation. He wanted to know what a “Funologist” was, and rather than sadden him with the news that our moderator made it up, we all took a shot at defining it for him.

The full article is available here: How to Speak Geek – SXSW Interactive has landed. Can you talk the talk?

I’m quoted about halfway down. Fame!

Overheard at SXSW

Guy at mike: In the words of Walt Whitman, do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

Guy next to me (stage whispers): Gay.

Edit: I’m annotating this one for the non-literature/human-sexuality majors.

It’s deconstruct-jokes-day here at Librarian Avengers.

Walt Whitman’s status as an historical gay icon is key to this comment. His poetry is universal, but a Whitman reference in a different context is sometimes used to covertly signal homosexuality, a la “are you a friend of Dorothy?” The humor comes from the incongruity of the unfortunate speaker quoting Whitman in the context of a professional discussion, and having his comment sarcastically interpreted as a self-referential proclamation of his sexuality.

A similar situation occurred during the 2006 New York gubernatorial debates at Cornell University. Republican candidate John Faso inadvertently caused laughs among the student-aged crowd when he declared that he did not want to “force gay marriage down the throats” of New Yorkers.

SXSW Interactive – Sunday

Guess who drank too much last night? Everyone!

It’s hangover day here at South by Southwest. The panels are slow and attendance is low.

This morning I went to a panel debating the merits of ignoring users. It matched my mood nicely.

User profiles are taking a beating this year.

Guess who was the only woman in the gaming room playing Guitar Hero and shooting bunnies with the Wii? You may call me Token.

Reverend Billy and the Church of No Shopping are here. They’re staying at our hotel, which was kind of startling when I crawled out of the elevator this morning.

I’m going to try and find someone from the Creative Commons who wants to come speak at Cornell about using the CC in scientific publications. If you know anyone, give me a holler.

SXSW Interactive – Saturday

Lists. Lists are the secret to blogging during a panel while still paying attention. Watch.

Best things about SXSW Interactive so far:

  • The BlogHer meetup is described during the opening panel as “the biggest taco-fest in Austin”
  • Vendetta, 1999 – a more modern version of the humanist Jenson typeface
  • Consumating.com
  • Seeing people from last year and feeling like they are old friends
  • Analog Tagging
  • Carrie Bickner at the NYPL gets it. Librarians don’t own metadata. Metadata, like all information, belongs to the people.
  • NYPL Labs
  • Breakfast tacos

Texas Update

Thirty seconds to post – I’m in a computer lab in the Austin Community College campus.

Things we’ve seen today:
Peacock in the neighbor’s yard
Peacock in the tree at Mayfield Park
Peacock with his tailfeathers up
Turtles
Agaves growing in bunches along the road
Spanish moss
The House where they filmed a Willie Nelson/Kris Kristoperson movie once in the 70’s
The Stevie Ray Vaughn Car Wash
Rosemary bushes as tall as me
Migas at Kirby Lane Cafe
Palm Trees
Blooming redbuds dogwoods dafodills tulips apple and cherry trees
People in shorts and tank tops outside a sno-cone stand
Cactus growing on the roof of a coffeeshop
Kayakers on Town Lake

Librarian meetup in Austin this weekend

Good morning, all. I’ve been death-on-a-stick for a week, thanks to accidentally ingesting some sort of peanut bi-product last weekend. The Epipen plays hell with my immune system. The good news is, I’ve gotten a lot of very important America’s Next Top Model watched. So, that’s done.

I am heading to Austin, Texas tomorrow for the annual South by Southwest Interactive conference. Jenny’s putting together a Libraryworker meetup in Austin on Sunday if you are in town.

I love the word “libraryworker”. It’s like sexworker, but you know, wholesome.

SXSW antics, continued

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, mexican.pngwhether 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.

Digital Preservation Panel at SXSWi

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 Skbookcradle.jpgy 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.