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.
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.
It all started at the South x Southwest conference this spring. I sat behind a fellow who had written a piece of weblog software called WordPress. The very mention of WordPress made the open-source and webstandards geeks at the conference go all gushy, so I figured it had to be pretty good software. Well. I installed it for a project at work and my heart went pitterpat. Great interface, tons of plugins, complete control over templates, open source, and a slick layout converted me.
Blogger has been good to me, but I’d like to experiment with this software. I’ll keep my old weblog up so your links will work (you will always be able to click on archives 2003-2005 in the right column to get to the ancient stuff), but this change of venue means you’ll have to update your RSS and bookmarks. I’m going to start writing about the books and media I’m consuming, in addition to the usual collection of rants, antecdotes, gloating about my cool job, and library related things.
Soon, I’m going to start writing about some of the nifty things we’re coming out with at my workplace, The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. I’ve been able to watch and help build an insanely complex audio-video digital library over the last year, and I think there might be some stuff of interest to you guys from what we’ve learned in the process. We’re doing a big launch at the end of the summer, so I can show you the payoff then.
Thanks again to everyone who has posted and helped this site out along the way. Grouchy librarian kisses to all of you.