Archive for the 'Media' Category

Random Sunday music musing

Posted in Media on June 13th, 2010

When I got my dandy little 8GB Sansa Fuze “MP3 player” (because it was on sale for $69 at Radio Shack, which it is again this week), I loaded it with 863 songs from my collection that I think are better than average–ones I give 3, 4 or 5 stars. (The whole collection, excluding classical, is around 3,000 songs–mostly fairly old CDs, but I’ve added a handful of used CDs purchased recently…)

And I’m going through it for a first pass, really listening to songs, usually about 10 a day.

Today I hit a song that was great–a recent addition, so I’d probably only heard it once before–but that also reminded me I’ve lost most of the specific vocabulary for music I might once have had.

The song: “Hard to Love” by Vance Gilbert (from one thru fourteen, released 2002 on Louisiana Red Hot Records).

It’s a blues of a particular style–with verses minimally accompanied (Hammond B3, electric lead & rhythm guitars, acoustic bass, drums–the bass descending one note per bar, minimal riffs from the rest), and then a solid horn section cutting in on the chorus. I mean a tasty horn section. (I’d actually been thinking, you know, I need a few more songs with really tasty horn sections.)

Yes, I can recognize a Hammond B3 almost instantly…or one heck of a good synthesizer simulation. Can’t you? Some day, all the Hammond B3s will be gone and irreparable; that will be a sad day for blues/jazz/whatever. Also yes, I’m one of those who thinks Al Kooper’s contributions to American music have been undervalued…

And I realized that I didn’t know whether this was Tower of Power-style horns, Memphis Horns style, or something else entirely. It only matters in that it’s hard for me to describe this number adequately.

[Checking the liner notes/booklet, one of those things that come with CDs, I find something really interesting, given that the horns seemed to have a pretty natural acoustic and stereo spread: The horns are the "Joe Mennona horns," which appears to consist of Joe Mennona overdubbing all the horn parts--tenor sax, alto sax, baritone sax, trombone and trumpet.]

No real significance here. You can enjoy music without being able to describe it properly.


Posted in Media, Stuff on June 7th, 2010

The June San Francisco Chronicle Magazine (the Chron only does its own glossy-magazine section once a month, a very sensible decision–the weekly book section and review/entertainment section are separate anyway) leads off with an editor’s column with the same title as this post.

It’s not all that long (465 words–shorter than this 558-word post); you can read the whole thing yourself, and look at the amusing picture. The theme: Meredith May (the writer) has been

getting into polite arguments with friends who have been posting pictures of me on Facebook and Flickr that I would never want you to see.

They’re not nude shots or anything like that–but they were “taken in private moments with friends before the world was wide and covered in a Web.” May doesn’t think it’s up to other people–even her friends–to decide which parts of her own history should be made public.

She notes a specific incident–she’s going to the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to talk about her story on girl slavery in Nepal and, checking Facebook in the airport, finds that an old friend has psoted pictures of her drinking and posing at high school house parties…

May doesn’t quite understand people’s impulse to overshare their own stuff–”but over-sharing someone other than yourself without his or her permission is baffling.” And, indeed, since we learn that any candid shot is likely to turn up on the web, spontaneity could be suffering.

I have had parties at my house with a dozen of my lovely artist friends, and nine will bring a camera and start shooting. The whole reason for having your homies over for a party is that you can let down your hair and dance on the counter if you want to. But I’m more cautious now. The joie de vivre, the carpe diem, the being alive part of living – is tempered.

In our haste to document and share everything, are we losing what it means to live in the moment?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but this editorial certainly resonates with me. I’ll take it a step further: “Agreeing” that a picture can be posted isn’t always being entirely happy about it. Coercion is a strong word for the process that takes place, but it’s a form of social pressure–the desire not to be thought a complete killjoy.

There are pictures of me on the web (oddly enough, they show up in Google but not on Bing) that I could do without. One of them has a caption about what a good sport I was. “Good sport” in this case really means “didn’t feel he could avoid this without looking like a killjoy.”

I know that my own behavior at, say, conference receptions is now much more circumspect than it might have been in the past, that I’m much less willing to don silly hats or assume silly poses or hold up silly signs. A few years ago, I would have assumed that a few folks would have gotten little laughs out of the silliness as captured in photos. Now, I assume that the silly pictures will live forever on the web and in search-engine results–and while they can’t really do me any harm, I’d just as soon not, thank you.

So does this make me a killjoy? Maybe so. Such is life. Apparently I’m not the only one…

A quick twofer

Posted in Libraries, Media, Writing and blogging on June 2nd, 2010

Two miniposts for the price of one!

Gold star

I would be remiss if I did not mention that this here blog received a gold star from Salem Press in its library blog thingie, particularly since they were very quick to move this blog from Public Library Blogs (!) to General Blogs (I was hoping for Quirky, but you can’t always get what you want) after I let them know…

(There seems to be no shortage of links to the Salem Press list, so the lack of one here shouldn’t be an issue.)

Quick expert advice from librarians about web tools

Here’s an easy two-part test for modern librarians–or, better yet, just those who are considered web specialists. They’re honest questions, and presumably y’all should be able to answer them on the spot, in the comments:

  1. I have a fully-formatted book ms. done using Word 2007, but also in PDF. How do I convert it to epub (without DRM), retaining as much of the formatting as possible? I even have Calibre, if that helps.
  2. OK, so I have the new Facebook privacy tools now, but I just looked at my Privacy settings and I don’t understand what’s going on here:

Facebook Privileges
Note: This is a straight screen capture, cropped but with no other changes. You may have to scroll right to see what I’m really interested in.

To wit: What does “Other” mean? How can I find out?

I await responses with some interest. Based on other discussions, I assume that any employable web services librarian should have answers…

dr? dc!

Posted in Media, Writing and blogging on May 24th, 2010

Right up front: I’ve been guilty of this before and probably will be again.

As I was working on a Zeitgeist piece, I looked at a nicely-done 1,300-word essay. On a national newspaper website. About one aspect of social networking. With some interesting and slightly controversial things to say, some of them certainly open to argument.

The very first comment detailed the length of the essay–how many words, how many characters, how many sentences, average number of letters per word, length of longest sentence–and ended with a note suggesting that there was no content, or at least that the commenter hadn’t read it.

Understand: The commenter didn’t disagree with what was being said–the commenter was trashing the essay based on its length (apparently). Several other commenters offered variants of the old “tl; dr” brushoff–that is, “too long; didn’t read.” (I rarely see that on liblogs–maybe library folks actually have more than ten-second attention spans, or at least believe that “tl; dr” leaves one open to accusations of subliteracy.)

I’m not going to argue that people damn well should read longer essays. After all, 1,300 words is just a bit less than two pages of C&I, or three or four pages of a typical trade paperback, or one-third of a typical In the library post, or nine Friendfeed posts. If that’s so much text it makes your brain explode or your eyes hurt, who am I to argue.

dr? dc

But, well…

If you didn’t read the article or post, why are you commenting on it?

Equally, if you read the article or post and have nothing to say about the topic or the substance of the post or article… why comment on it?

Because you know the writer hangs on your every word so much that she will at least appreciate knowing you dropped by? Because you’re so damned important that you must respond? Because you’re a frustrated graffitist? Because you have no life?

I think all of usmany of us do this sort of thing–or equally vapid responses–once in a while. (Yes, that’s a preventive strikeout: I was about to commit a universalism, and I damn well should know better.)

It works both ways. I waste time on FriendFeed. (I also use FriendFeed, and maintain friendships on FriendFeed, and gain valuable insights on FriendFeed. And sometimes I waste time on FriendFeed–the activities aren’t mutually exclusive.) As many categories as I’ve hidden, as rarely as I Follow anybody new, I still see dozens of posts (mostly from Twitter, but not all) of the “what’ll I have for breakfast / I just had X for dinner / I just posted from Y” flavor, stuff that for me is almost exclusively in the “who cares?” category–just as some of my posts here fall into the “who cares?” category for some, maybe most, occasionally all readers.

I don’t believe I’ve ever found any reason to comment on a “what I had for breakfast” FF item by asking who cares or saying “don’t clutter up the feed with that crap” or anything of the sort. If I don’t care, why would I take the time to comment? (And, for that matter, if I don’t care, how does that imply that nobody else could possibly care?) I’m dead certain I’ve left equivalent responses on some posts and FF messages, however, and I’m sure I will in the future.

And I’ll be (trivially) wrong to do so.

As of that last period, this post contains 570 words. That’s probably too long for some of you–but I suspect that people who can’t handle 600, 800, or 6,000 words aren’t among my audience anyway.

By the way: I’m tagging this “Net Media”–but I no longer believe that term has much of any meaning, and I’m also doubtful about “Social Media.” That’s an essay I’ll be writing one of these days, probably in C&I. 636 words. My work here is done (645).

Industry Standard, RIP–again

Posted in Media on May 21st, 2010

The Spring 2010 C&I essay “The Zeitgeist: hypePad and buzzkill” includes several notes taken from The Industry Standard–a site that I still had bookmarked, even if it was a pale shadow of the wonderful trade magazine The Industry Standard, which was great reading, fat, interesting…and overextended itself during the dotcom boom, going under as that boom went bust.

That pale shadow is now itself dead, as of a couple months ago (I don’t remember exactly when). It was absorbed into InfoWorld…sort of.

Sort of?

Yep. I had a number of items from The Industry Standard tagged in delicious, for use in future C&I essays. I probably still do. Today I wanted to use a couple of them for part of an Interesting & Peculiar Products essay.

The delicious link leads to InfoWorld. Not to the article.

Searching for the articles, by any keywords I could think of (e.g., those in the title), comes up empty.

I can’t swear the articles aren’t there…but they’re not findable. Which means they might as well not be there.

This is a shame. There was still some good coverage there. And, as far as I can tell, it’s just gone.

MP3 Doesn’t Have DRM–Or Does It?

Posted in Copyright, Media on April 19th, 2010

One of the great steps forward for fair use and first-sale rights came last year, when iTunes finally stopped selling DRM-encased tracks and started selling DRM-free MP3 (or its direct, DRM-free, AAC equivalent).

“DRM-free MP3″ is redundant, right? The MP3 format doesn’t allow for DRM, right?

Right…at least not now, at least not directly.

A Digression

DRM gets a bad rap. Actual Digital Rights Management can–or could–be valuable, in situations (which pretty much every library is familiar with) where access to digital resources is based on the user’s rights. Most of the time, in practice, those rights are understood indirectly: If you have access to a campus network for an appropriate definition of “access,” for example, you’re assumed to have rights to the databases the library licenses–and similarly for public libraries, if you’re either standing at a library computer or you can demonstrate (over the internet) that you’re a library patron. But the rights management could be more complex; you could have a digital signature that identified all the ways you might have rights to use various digital resources.

But most of the time, when we talk about DRM–especially as it relates to copyright–we’re talking about what I call Digital Restrictions Management: Basically, reducing or eliminating your fair use and first sale rights in digital resources that you think you’ve purchased.

The funny thing about that kind of DRM is that it has never done much to stop The Bad Guys, those who are out to pirate copyright material. They either have other methods to get access to non-DRM resources or they break the DRM. DRM mostly damages the innocent, people who want to device-shift or maybe use legitimate excerpts from something. So it’s hard not to cheer the move away from DRM in music…noting that audio CDs never had DRM. (Yes, there were silver discs with DRM; no, they weren’t legitimate Audio CDs. The Red Book, the key license for all audio CDs, does not allow for DRM.)

End of digression.

“At least not directly?”

Yep. Read this story in TechCrunch.

Seems that the tracks you buy from iTunes–or from LaLa or Walmart–have personal information embedded in the MP3. The post shows an example.

Who cares? Well, read the quoted section.

If you’re really paranoid, consider the possibilities: Could iTunes scan your library and delete any files that don’t have the right username?

Seems unlikely, but…

Maybe no more unlikely than, say, Amazon deleting an ebook from your Kindle…

Updated 4/23/10, to remove idiot error in post title. Odd that nobody called me on that!

Auditory Memory

Posted in Media on February 17th, 2010

Now that the flood of responses on my quick quiz has slowed down…

Which is to say: Now that it’s become pretty clear that nobody gives a damn…

It’s time for the answers, and for the post that I was holding off on–but that post may have less to it than I originally thought.

The Answers

The song’s penultimate line was, as noted:

And everybody knows that the very last line

  • The last line is: “Is the doctor said, give him jug band music, it seems to make him feel just fine.” (Presumably, everybody knows that because–with changes in the first word–that’s the last line of each verse.)
  • The name of the song: “Jug Band Music.” (There’s more than one song with that title. This is one that doesn’t happen to be jug band music.)
  • The name of the writer: John Sebastian.
  • The name of the lead singer: John Sebastian.
  • The name of the group: The Lovin’ Spoonful
  • Bonus answer: The song was on Daydream, released in 1966. That was apparently the Spoonful’s best-selling album: It reached #10 on the charts.

The song is a hoot, as are the lyrics–it’s very much a wacky story-song. It’s also, in some ways, a classic earworm–as are several other Spoonful songs. I finally picked up a good copy of a decent selection of Spoonful songs from SecondSpin, a 2000 “Greatest Hits” CD that was remastered from the masters–the earlier CDs I had were made during an extended period in which the master tapes were apparently lost or unavailable.

Auditory memory

Anyway…while I was listening to this, I found that I was hearing a John Sebastian song that was not a Lovin’ Spoonful song–and a song that I probably hadn’t heard in at least 25 years, namely She’s a Lady.

The song appeared on Sebastian’s first solo album (John B. Sebastian) in 1970. (Now that I check it on Wikipedia, I see that there weren’t all that many other memorable tracks on it–and that Sebastian had to make it with a bunch of nobody session players: Some unknowns named Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Dallas Taylor, Buddy Emmons…life is tough when you don’t have connections in the music industry.)

It’s a beautiful little ballad (“little” is right–the original is under two minutes). I could hear it plain as day, including the low-key orchestration…

I suspect everybody’s a little different when it comes to auditory memory. Sometimes, I can hear pieces, fully arranged, that I haven’t heard in years (or in this case in decades). Sometimes, I can even manipulate the arrangements.

Are earworms like that? When a song gets stuck in your head, do you just hear a melody, or do you hear the whole arrangement?

There’s another question: Is my auditory memory accurate? There’s no good way of knowing, I suppose.

Nothing momentous here. I will say that having a good if flakey auditory memory is helpful when someone mentions one of the really annoying earworms: I can usually drive it out with something I like.

A pre-post post

Posted in Media on February 13th, 2010

Some time this holiday weekend (it is a holiday weekend, isn’t it?) soon (giving the legions of readers both a chance to weigh in on this!), I’ll probably do a post about one particular kind of memory.

Before that post, here’s a quick quiz–one where I suspect old fogies have an advantage.

There’s a song in which the penultimate lyric is:

And everybody knows that the very last line

What are:

  • The last line
  • The name of the song (if you know the first, you’ll know the second)
  • The name of the writer or lead singer, your choice
  • The name of the group for the original recording
  • Bonus answer: The year in which it was released.

Using a search engine to find the answer is just plain tacky. So is using a lyrics site.

Updated February 17, 2010: The answers are in this post.

FriendFeed, trainwrecks and accelerated discussions

Posted in Media on October 22nd, 2009

Despite the ambitious title, this is purely some early thoughts (that might eventually lead to a Cites & Insights piece–or a column elsewhere–but “eventually” probably means “next year sometime”). (Read on: I have a question at the end.)

Just this week, I’ve seen three very long FriendFeed threads (participating in one of them) that struck me as particularly interesting in terms of implications for issues, reputations and connections. In two of the cases, my own feelings about specific people changed significantly over the course of the discussions; in one, my existing feelings about a category of people strengthened. In all three, the sheer acceleration of FriendFeed threads (and hashtagged Twitter posts, I guess–but I don’t currently use Twitter) strikes me as both refreshing and a little disorienting. I’d use the word “dangerous,” but I think the only real danger is to complacency and artificial reputation, and that’s OK by me.

(Yes, it’s going to be Another Rambling Crawford Post. I don’t have time to hone it down to 450 or 800 well-chosen words; I want to get back to working on But Still They Blog, now that I’ve finished the draft for one humongous Making it Work essay for the December C&I.)

On one hand: OMG! FF’s Dead!

Let’s take the silliest one first–or at least silly to me. Facebook purchased FriendFeed. That’s probably resulted in tens of thousands of messages on FF and elsewhere, including some panicky threads from people and groups who’ve come to rely on FF for their community of interest and fear that FB will shut it down and they’ll have to move elsewhere. I’m not really addressing that particular kerfuffle. (I’ll suggest that if you really depend on a sustained and sustainable community of interest, “you get what you pay for” continues to be a relevant saying, but I’ll let it go at that.)

Nope, I’m addressing the secondary kerfuffle, mostly among Hot Tech Types and Hot Social Marketing Types, after some of the FF people now employed by FB made it clear that FB has no intention of shutting down FF–but, at least implicitly, that new-feature development for FF may not be speedy.

Some people found this reassuring. OK, I found it reassuring: I’m finding FF to be worthwhile as a set of overlapping communities of interest and, with Pause always firmly in place, a social medium that I can handle via occasional visits. I really don’t much care whether any new features are added to FF (I don’t use some of the existing ones); I want it to be fast, stable, and not so popular that I spend all my time finding new categories to Hide.

Personal case: On FF, I currently have 100 subscriptions–geez, how did it get so high, when I thought it was still 77–and 131 subscribers, including 62 that I don’t subscribe to. I can keep up with that, probably spending half an hour to 45 minutes a day on two split across two or three sessions. On FaceBook, where I’m much less active, I have 199 “friends,” a necessarily reciprocal arrangement–and there’s no way I can keep up with the wall in the 10-15 minutes a day I’m willing to devote to it, so I really only look at my family list of 8-10 and a “libclose” list of a couple dozen. I don’t use FB for professional issues at all; I do use FF for that.

Then there were the others–for whom not having rapid development of new features is equivalent to being dead. One social marketing hotshot said he couldn’t be bothered to “develop his network” (which I read as “getting followers for My Brand,” perhaps inappropriately) on a system that wasn’t busy adding new glitzfeatures, and would probably go elsewhere. To which I can only say: Good. For some of us, the point of social networking is social networking and communities of interest–not personal marketing and branding.

In this case, the effect of the accelerated discussion–”accelerated” over what you’d find on a blog (unless it’s something like John Scalzi’s Whatever) or a list–was to verify impressions I already had about many A-listers. Would you turn away from a Craftsman hammer because Sears hasn’t added rhinestones to it or, in fact, changed the design in years? Probably not–but some people don’t see online tools that way.

On the other hand: The trainwreck

There’s this special organization that includes a bunch of librarians and a bunch of other people. And there’s a move afoot to change the name of the organization. It’s a change that, to some librarians, seems to devalue librarian, to other folks seems high-handed and to still others as a great move…away from that dusty old “L” word to a series of buzz words that people supposedly respect more. I won’t say more about the specific organization or change, since it’s not my battle. What I have seen, though:

  • On one of the association’s apparently-official blogs, the word “hater” was used to refer to those who opposed the name change.
  • Apparently, one of the Great Organizational Gurus and frequent speakers sent out email that basically labeled name-change opponents as unprofessional.
  • Twitter and FriendFeed had (and, I suspect, continue to have) lots of comments–mostly opposed. A number of people were really unhappy about the tone of some of the pro-change stuff (see the first two bullets).
  • Some pro-name-change folks seemed to feel that it’s OK for a pro-change bigshot to dismiss opponents as unprofessional, but not OK for opponents to say bad things about the bigshot.

Again, this isn’t my battle. I already left one association around the time a president said that one of its problems was having too many librarians (a different association, one that never did use the L-word), so I’m used to seeing librarians derided by people who should know better. Doesn’t mean I have to like it, even as a non-librarian.

In this case, the acceleration and ease of threading has exposed some issues that were probably bubbling beneath the surface; this is all to the good (I believe) but certainly makes some people uncomfortable. (Could LITA actually pass a dues increase without a member ballot in 2009? I suspect–and hope–not, but back when the Board of Directors took what I felt was high-handed action, there was no good way to get fast, broad responses. Things have indeed changed.)

I believe this particular controversy has damaged the reputations of a few folks. I know it’s clarified my feelings in one case (but not fundamentally changed them) and slightly lowered my estimation in a couple of other cases (where I admired people but without much specific knowledge). And I believe that wouldn’t have happened without the relatively transparent acceleration of the medium.

On the gripping hand: Rockstars!

[Credit to Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle for this particular version of a third hand.]

Leaving out some details here because I’m too lazy to go look it up, someone posted a (Twitter?) comment to FF having to do with librarians being, or not being, rockstars in their community…and being a little snarky about the comment. A fast and varied discussion ensued, bringing in the author of the comment and many others–and included a bunch of stuff about whether “rockstar status” is either desirable, is something that every librarian should aspire to, and the like.

But this discussion was far from a trainwreck. David Lee King, who I believe made the Twitter comment, engaged in the discussion in an open manner, even recognizing that the term might not be appropriate in general. Within a day or so, and more than 150 comments, things moved from a terminological dispute to a serious discussion of whether and to what extent all librarians need to be public figures–and, in fact, the difference between doing your job (but avoiding attention) and being complacent and in a rut.

Yes, the conversation got edgy at times–and I don’t believe everybody arrived at a common understanding or agreement. Nor do I think that’s a necessary or always desirable outcome of a conversation. I do believe most of us understood more about what others were trying to say, and why.

In this case, I think a trainwreck may have been avoided–and I do remember a vaguely similar situation, on a blog, that did turn into somewhat of a trainwreck over time. I’m not sure whether the shorter messages required by FriendFeed made the difference, or whether it was simple acceleration, or whether people were simply more off-the-cuff and open in this environment. Maybe a combination; maybe something else.

In this case, I’ll be specific: While I suspect my attitudes about David Lee King and Joshua Neff will always be complicated, this particular thread makes me regard both of them considerably more positively. Doesn’t mean I won’t shoot the sheriff (metaphorically–don’t call the FBI!) if the need arises; doesn’t mean I won’t make fun of DLK. But all in all, I found it an encouraging conversation. (I just read through it again. I still do.) (And, just as a note, Steve L. didn’t gain in my estimation from this discussion mostly because he already ranks pretty high. Ditto John D., who managed to connect the two threads. Ditto Jenica. And others I won’t mention.)

Geez, Walt, 1500 words and still no point?

Well, I said it was a ramble–one that might, eventually, become a thinkpiece, but not on this blog and not this month. I think something is happening here, something interesting, and while I may not know exactly what it is, I’m getting little points of light around the edges. I’m not giving up blogs or ejournals (or lists or email…), and I’m still not sure Twitter would work for me (tried it, didn’t like it, might someday try it again, might not) but the nature of FF as a high-speed conversational tool for communities of interest is intriguing.

But let’s get to a sort-of point, one that raises a question:

  • It’s possible that FF (and Twitter and maybe even FB) yield more honest conversations because we perceive them as being more ephemeral than blog comments and email posts and…
  • If so–if you’re more open and honest there because you don’t think it’s as much a part of Your Permanent Record (down there a few pages past the time you snickered at your first-grade teacher)–then it may be inappropriate for people like me to snatch up whole chunks of FF threads (or Twitter hashtag search results) and use them within commentary articles, the way we (I) use blog posts and the comments on those posts.

The question:

Do you think it’s inappropriate or undesirable for your FriendFeed comments to be used in secondary discussions in the same way your blog posts and comments might be?

Comments–here or on FriendFeed? (I’ll post that question as a separate FF comment as well.)

Maybe I’m…

Posted in Media, Writing and blogging on August 24th, 2009

I would add “…doing it wrong,” pace Randy Newman, but I wrote that post a few months ago.
And I was just pointed to a blog post (by someone I wouldn’t normally follow, but there’s a family relationship) about this person’s use of Twitter and someone else suggesting what tweets should and shouldn’t do. The blogger had an appropriate response, stated much more politely than I might state it–in essence, (a) there’s more than one way to use Twitter, (b) if you don’t like my tweets, feel free not to follow me.
In other words, someone proposed their version of The Rules for Twitter, and this blogger wasn’t buying them. To which I can only say, Hooray.

(There are seemingly endless sets of The Rules for blogging and other social media, and lately The Rules almost always seem to posit that we use these media to Build Our Brands–that the only legitimate motivation for a blog is gaining lots of readers and mindshare. “Pfft” is way too polite a response and my two-word response violates my own standards for this blog, so…)

But maybe I’m doing it wrong…

A few months ago–10 days after that earlier post, apparently (that is, on March 21, 2009)–I started using delicious. (I hadn’t seen the point of it, since I don’t really build an online bibliography–but after some other people were talking about it, I realized that I do have a use for it: to flag pages that could be source material either for the Library Leadership Network or for Cites & Insights.)
It’s working well in that regard. Instead of printing out a leadsheet (the first page, assuming the source plays nicely with Firefox) for later reference, I tag the page–and then, when I think I’m likely to be working on a topic, I’ll go through that tag, delete a few pages that I’m not going to use, and print leadsheets for others, then use delicious as a home for finding those items as I’m writing about them. Right now, there are 549 tagged items.
So far, so good–but if there’s a set of norms for delicious as a social medium, I suspect I’ve been violating it all along, and it’s getting worse.
To wit:

  • Some of my tags are meaningless to almost everybody else–e.g., miw, cifeedback, ir, mbp, lln, tqt. (Long-time C&I readers can probably guess what miw and mbp and tqt stand for.) Others are obscure but may make sense to a few other people, e.g. oa, oca, gbs–that is, open access, the Open Content Alliance, and Google Book Search/Google Book Settlement.
  • I delete items once I’ve written about them.
  • The newest violation of The Rules: When I do print off leadsheets, I modify the tag so that I know I’ve printed off leadsheets and won’t try to do it again. So, for example, 21 items tagged “deathprint” (which most people could probably figure out as “death of print”) became “deathprintx”–and then disappeared as I worked them into an essay.
  • I have yet to pay any attention to “popular” or “recent” tags–and I rarely pay much attention to the set of proposed tags for an item that come from everybody else.

In other words, I’m not a very “social” user of delicious. Such is life.
(If there’s one change in delicious I’d love to see but regard as unreasonable, it’s this: It would be lovely if delicious recognized that a URL was part of Bloglines or an equivalent service and pointed out that you’re not really tagging a page you can get back to. OK, so I’m an idiot sometimes…it’s just so easy to click on the square of squares up on the toolbar and tag away, not realizing that I haven’t clicked through to an actual post.)

Maybe they’re doing it wrong…

I encountered something today that, while minor, suggests that I’m not the only one with “norm” problems.
To wit: I wanted to unsubscribe from someone else’s Friendfeed account; they’re not really a friend or even acquaintance, and I found that 90% of their updates, while perfectly charming, were simply noise for me.
And I couldn’t find any way to do it. The mouseover menu doesn’t include Unsubscribe. I clicked on the person’s name, which brought up their profile–and there was no Unsubscribe option there either. Wha?
I temporarily dealt with it by removing them from all lists, including Home. Later, Iris Jastram noted (on FriendFeed, of course) that some FriendFeed styles actually hide the options from the profile–the Unsubscribe option still works, but you have to guess at where to click since there’s no text or box.
Went back, clicked on the place where I thought the Unsubscribe option should be, and got confirmation that I was unsubscribed.
This, to me, really does violate the spirit of FriendFeed–which, in this case, I’d summarize as “easy come, easy go.” It’s easy to subscribe to someone (unless they have a private feed), it’s easy to hide (most) aspects of overactive feeds without actually getting rid of the users…and it’s easy to unsubscribe from someone if situations change. Only not so much, if they’re allowed to hide that option.
This is really a FriendFeed issue, though. My subscription to Person X is part of my settings. It’s only secondarily part of Person X’s profile.
Minor stuff, to be sure. And I still don’t buy into The Rules…any more than I’m ready to add some badge to my blog. (Ah, but that’s another topic, one I might not get to for a while, maybe never.)

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