Random thoughts in between

It’s really past time for me to do some “regular” posts–posts that have nothing to do with job searches and new books. I’ve got a list of candidates; maybe I’ll get to them as time goes on. Meanwhile, here’s a few random thoughts that don’t deserve individual posts. One bit of context: This is the second week of a two-week period of deliberate unemployment, intended to clear my head and refresh my energies so that I can do a great job for PALINET. So far, I think it’s working.

  • If you’re waiting to hear more about my departure from OCLC RLG Service Center, don’t hold your breath. I never planned to write memoirs (and have now discarded most of the papers that could go toward memoirs), for the perfectly sound reason that I’m not in the pantheon of celebrated people. If I ever do write memoirish things that are more than casual posts, they’ll almost entirely concern my non-work library life. I had 39 years in the library automation game, most of them good years. That life is over. I’m focused on the future.
  • I’ve now realized just how odd it was to state publicly that I was leaving a position not because “it was a bad fit” or “to explore other opportunities” or whatever, but because the position was being terminated. That’s almost as bad as admitting that I stopped writing “The Crawford Files” in American Libraries not because “three years was long enough” or “it was time to explore other kinds of writing” or “I was running out of appropriate topics” (which is, indeed, the actual reason I stopped writing “PC Monitor” for ONLINE at the end of 2006), but because the column was dropped by the publication. Oops. I did that too, didn’t I? Clearly, I was raised badly, never learning that “honesty is the best policy” has a big escape clause “…except when it could make you look bad.”
  • Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that when somebody writes a post noting various problems that they’re having–problems that legitimately deserve some sympathy or empathy–and says they don’t want a pity party…well, most of the time they do sort of want a little tiny pity party, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • When someone says “Nobody ever said…” with regard to some statement currently viewed as extreme, what they usually mean is either “Nobody ever used that precise set of words, although some people definitely wrote things that reasonable people would interpret that way” or “You shouldn’t actually look at the history–nobody should be held accountable for what they said two years ago.”
  • There’s a big difference between not picking up on every tool that comes along and being unwilling to use new tools when they make sense. To my mind, for many people (myself included) the former is a way to maintain some kind of balance–in fact, we do not all need to know X intimately, whatever X happens to be. (I don’t need to know how to modify a Second Life avatar. Neither do most other librarians.) But being unwilling to adopt a tool that makes sense for a real-world application you have because you’ve never used it before: That’s a sign of rigidity and impending retirement that I hope never to suffer from.
  • What? You want a real-world example? I never created a wiki–because I had no problem for which a wiki seemed to be the best solution. My new job will make heavy use of a wiki–actually, the wiki is the fundamental medium. I knew that before I applied for the job, and it appears to be the right tool for the job. So I’ll become a whole lot more familiar with the intricacies of one kind of wiki software–because it’s the right tool for the job.

That’s six little items, more than enough for now. I do plan to do more substantive posts. There’s no question that PALINET knows about this blog and about Cites & Insights–after all, the press release on my hiring mentions both of them. There’s no question that PALINET assumes I’ll continue blogging and publishing C&I, does not intend to censor or guide the content of either one, and assumes I won’t violate internal confidences or otherwise violate unstated blogging guidelines.

I would say blogging might be irregular as I dive headlong into the new situation come next week–but when has blogging at this here blog ever been regular?

Oh, and in case anyone was wondering: Yes, I will be at Midwinter 2008. Annual, too. Always barring various disasters, to be sure.

4 Responses to “Random thoughts in between”

  1. Laura Says:

    Walt, I’m sure it’s actually going to be very 3.0 to give the real reason for one’s departure from one thing or another. The rest of the world just hasn’t caught on to that yet.

  2. Steve Lawson Says:

    As for “nobody ever said,” I have started saying “I don’t think I ever said XYZ,” or “If I ever said XYZ, let me amend that now” or something like that. Weasel words to the wise.

  3. walt Says:

    Ah, Laura, what a lovely idea.

    Steve: If anybody says, “If I *did* say X, I’ve learned better” or your wording, I not only won’t object–I’ll congratulate them on being willing to admit that we can learn (and that we can be wrong at times). The world changes; why shouldn’t we?

  4. K.G. Schneider Says:

    In the past year I have quit a job because it was a bad fit and resigned from a writing position to pursue other things. But if that hadn’t been the case, I would always have had the option not to say anything. Sometimes babies are ugly, but pointing that out might not be helpful.


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