Informationistas in New York City

I am in The City this week, visiting friends and shopping. I’m currently being sniffed by this dog, and am looking forward to watching the final game of the World Cup this afternoon at a pub where folks actually care about football. Go France! And Italy! I don’t care as long as the footwork is amazing!

Lizz and I went sari-shopping (sort of) in Jackson Heights yesterday. I was thinking about trying on one of these, but the whole process was way intimidating, and I felt like a cultural-appropriating jerk. Plus even the ugly saris were over my budget. Still, wow.

If any enterprising readers want to go shopping or Darwin-exhibiting between now and Wednesday, send me an email (ericaATlibrarianavengersDOTORG). I’ll be bopping around all day while everyone is at work.

gnu.jpgToday I animated a vector image of a woman singing for an educational flash animation illustrating the difference between the larynx (humans) and the syrinx (birds).

What did you do at work today?

In my travels, I discovered that WikiCommons has a nice-if-random collection of GNU public licenced images, which led to a debate with Cow-Orker Rafe on the proper pronunciation of the word “Gnu”. Turns out we were both right. Geeks pronounce the operating system “G-noo”, and English majors pronounce the wildebeesty “Noo”.

Noo! Noo!

I’m SO going to Cornell!

doones1.gifOne of my role models when I was a baby geek was Kim from the comic strip Doonesbury. She coded nude, geeked out, talked in binary, and awed all in her path. Now her daughter Alex is coming to Cornell. Girl can crash at my place anytime. We’ve got wireless. If she wants, I can introduce her to other local fictional characters in town, like Stephen Titus George from Fool on the Hill.

Humbert Humbert, however, can just stay the hell away.

My Conference Can Beat Up Your Conference

Hi there sexy library creatures. I’m spending this weekend doing prep-work for the upcoming South by Southwest Interactive conference. In my case, this means re-dying my hair, e-shopping for warm weather gear, and drinking a lot of water. Chris and I are flying to Austin on the 9th – we’ll be hunting down margarita machines and Shiner Bock soon thereafter.

The cool local burlesque troupe that I wanted to take you guys to isn’t performing this month. Still, I promised a party so I’ll do what every good librarian should: utilize existing resources. I’ll meet everybody at the Frog Design party (they had belly dancers last year). I’ll be handing out Librarian pins and buying beer for anyone with a library degree. If are going to be in town, lemme know and I’ll send you my cell number. Chris is an Austin native, so we’ll be hitting some good Mexican food joints throughout the week. Finally, I’ll leave you with a list:

The Ethos of ALA vs SXSWi

Gobs of free books Gobs of free drinks
Shoulder Pads Electronic Notepads
Informative panels about last year’s technology Informative panels about next year’s technology
The Caldicotts The Bloggies
Meet Winnie-The-Pooh Meet famous pornographers
Nuclear politics Nuclear tacos
Blue hair Pink hair
Power suits and eye shadow Power symbol t-shirts and iBooks
Sponsored by: Demco Sponsored by: Tito’s Homemade Vodka

I will shoot you with my Barbie Gun

Ladies and Gentlemen: I’m coming out. As a gamer.

I game. I play video games. I enjoy shooting digital things. I have the ability to navigate three-dimensional space. There, I said it.
I don’t know what I was afraid of. I’m not going to be stereotyped. As far as I can tell there are no stereotypes of female gamers. It’s not like admitting “Hey you guys I love to shop” or “Gosh I love me some Jesus.” There are no social assumptions about being a female gamer because up to a few years ago, female gamers didn’t statistically exist.

These days however, I’m in good company. New generations of tech-savvy women are reshaping the game industry. According to the charmingly titled 2004 ELSPA report Chicks and Joysticks, female gamers make up 39% of US gamers. We’re only at 25.1% across Western Europe, but in Japan we rule a whopping 65.9%. Plus, in the US, women buy 53% of all PC games. We love The Sims. We love World of Warcraft. We can whoop you at Dance Dance Revolution. Female gamers exist, and we’re starting to eat up market share.

So what’s the problem? Nothing we haven’t handled before. The success of first-person shooters has left the market flooded with Uber-violent 3D games that don’t appeal to women (Well – women who aren’t me. Battlefront, anyone?) And, of course, decades of male-dominated gaming have left a legacy of seriously sexist game characters. Big-boobed wasp-waisted mistresses of the martial arts still grace the covers of RPG manuals and fighting games. I’ve included a few here for your amusement.

In a great article titled Why is my girl repellent chasing off all the hot chicks? Mythago describes the lament of the clueless male gamer: “Why aren’t there more female gamers, especially when we go to such lengths to make it clear they aren’t welcome?” He claims that the abundance of porn ladies gracing video and RPGs sends a simple message to potential girl gamers: “You don’t exist. We only think of females as sex toys.”

This whole rant got started because I just attended a nifty lecture here on campus by Michigan State Communications prof John Sherry called “Sex Differences in Video Game Play: What the Industry Doesn’t Know About Why Girls Don’t Play First-Person Shooters”. MSU is doing some cool cognitive psychology-type research on the relationship between game preference and cognitive abilities. It made me nostalgic for East Lansing, Midwestern accents, and Social Science research with its delightful openness to interpretation. It’s pretty damn difficult to say why most women seem to prefer one type of game over another, but I had a good time listening to the theories.

To finish off, and perhaps cleanse your eyeballs from all those huge electronic breasts, why not have a go at the fully girl-created online game Sissyfight 2000 which lets you become a bitchy schoolgirl fighting on the playground. Scratch, tease, and gang up on other girls, then try and look innocent. Then shoot them with your huge My Little Pony gun.

Come On Everybody Let’s Get Together and Map Ourselves

If there’s one thing I love more than Google Maps mashups, it’s Google Maps mashups that let me see who is out there is reading this website. Besides my mom. Hi mom.

Frappr is Friendster for maps. I made a Librarian Avengers frappr map so that we might all peer at one other’s geographic representations. Go on, add yourself. Stand up and be counted.

If I get more than 200 folks, I’ll host a librarian party at SXSW. With strippers. Feminist strippers.

Update: Holy crap. It hasn’t been a day and there are already 33 folks on the map from all over the world. That’s 16% of my 200-librarian-challange! I’d better start researching burlesque clubs. Where the heck did all you people come from? Have you been here all along? Jeepers.

Bad physical interfaces: Photo evidence

Those things I was complaining about in London? I’ve got documentation. I just started uploading the ten gajillion photos we took when we were overseas. There are more to come, but here are two fun ones involving British hotels and some baaaaad interface design.

The first is our web-enabled tv that showed a 404 page not found error whenever you turned it on. Someone installed something weird and Windows-based on it, and apparently it went all wrong. Like British TV isn’t strange enough.

And then there was the hairdryer, conveniently located and unmovable from the desk drawer.