Archive for August, 2006

My other blog is an ejournal

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

This seems to be a day for metablogging. So, in the spirit if not the letter…

I’m honored by this post by Kathryn at librariesinteract (a really interesting, fairly new group blog for Australian librarians).

I’m put firmly in my place by this series of comments regarding a silly little post in which I objected to an over-the-top characterization of a certain automobile. Now I’m reliably informed that I’m a 70-year-old unemployed librarian who’s a whiner, semi-literate, possessed of a degree in a major that shouldn’t exist, too poor to buy serious cars and so reduced to driving a car that’s equivalent to a #2 pencil, and writing an “annoying little blog” that signifies nothing. I’m so ashamed…and really have to wonder what those 300+ subscribers and 1,000+ average daily visits are all about, since there’s clearly nothing worthwhile here and it’s from such a disreputable source!

I don’t have the requisite five lesser-known blogs to recommend. I believe I’ve done that, several times over, in the Cites & Insights “Look at Liblogs”–except, of course, that I didn’t specifically recommend five blogs.

And then there’s the blogging meme. OK, I’ll give it a try:

  • Why did you start blogging? Because (a) there were things I wanted to say that weren’t quite right, or not yet ready, for my ejournal, (b) because people had been bugging me to and I finally gave in, (c) because Michael Gorman’s ill-advised rant pushed me over the edge.
  • What do you blog about mainly? There are 18 categories with more than 10 posts each, but the top six (in descending order) are: Writing and blogging, Libraries, Net media, Stuff (my favorite!), Cites & Insights, and Moviest and TV.
  • Do you blog in your first language or in another language, and why? Sigh. Unlike computer languages (where I’ve probably used at least 8), I’m haplessly monolingual for human languages, after several attempts to try (and severe damage to my GPA in high school and college). It may not always sound like it, but English is my first and only language.
  • What motivates you to keep blogging even if (like most bloggers) you’re not paid much for it? “Not paid much”? Bwahahah… I keep doing it because it’s easy, it’s fun, and people comment enough to let me know it’s read.
  • Is your audience mainly inside your own country or around the world? Yes.
  • What do your family and friends think about the fact that you are a blogger? My wife thinks we all have too much time on our hands. My friends who aren’t bloggers probably don’t care. I don’t think of myself as a blogger; I’m a part-time writer who happens to have a blog.
  • Does your boss know you have a blog? Yes.
  • What is the relationship between blogs in your country or region and the mainstream media? My own take: The Hot Political Blogs have less influence than they think they have–and more than mainstream media wants to admit. On the other hand, my impression is that many of the Hot Blogs really are mainstream media, just in another form.
  • When you blog, how would you describe what you write? Is it part of a conversation? Is it ranting? Is it a daily diary? Is it journalism? Is it some or all of these things at different times? Does the definition matter?
    Frequently part of a conversation; certainly not a diary; not particularly journalism; the definition doesn’t matter.
  • Have blogs started to have an impact on politics in your country? Have they started to influence what stories get covered in your country’s media? We’d love to know some examples.
    Same answer as two bullets up.

Karen Coyle, blogger!

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

This post probably deserves mention all by itself: Karen Coyle compares the Google Library Project contracts with Michigan and UC–the two cases where confidentiality clauses are trumped by state-agency laws.

I won’t comment on the post because it stands on its own. It’s a long post, and if you want to print it out, use IE or some browser other than Firefox (since Karen Coyle’s using Blogger, which as usual means that the printout starts moving over toward the right and eventually loses portions of the text–but not, apparently, in IE).

As for Karen Coyle blogging: Welcome. As a well-established thoughtful, perceptive, informed, and articulate voice, you add to the liblog universe. And I can say that not ever having intended to blog doesn’t matter…being one of those myself.

It’s a Guy Thing

Monday, August 28th, 2006

This excellent post at CavLec frames earlier discussions that I stayed away from, the nasty little article that I commented on here, and some other stuff in one long, articulate, and convincing discussion. (And throws in a recommendation for one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels as well; you won’t see me objecting to that or to the notion that Pratchett hides real issues within his hilarious books.)

What I realized in reading Dorothea Salo’s comments is that I was never really a “guy.” I grew up wrong (my parents never taught me that women were a separate and inferior species), I didn’t have a bunch of buds who exchanged dirty jokes, and in college I was in a coop with a bunch of engineers–who, actually, weren’t very strong on either dirty jokes or misogyny, at least not the ones I was acquainted with. I’m not a real social person and don’t go out with drinking buddies…and yes, I’ve been known to object to sexist humor, which hasn’t made me any more popular.

Salo (I’m trying to avoid first-naming, although I feel I know Dorothea fairly well by now) cuts men some slack by using “insidious” rather than “subtle.” Are there men in libraries who really are overgrown guys and would knowingly put women down? I think so. I’ve known some in the past, although I’d like to think I don’t know any now. Insecurity has lots of ways of coming out, and one way is always to find a whole group of people you can pretend to be superior to.

I should also point you to this post by Meredith Farkas, who finds that she has or had become less assertive as she grew up and wonders why. She raises lots of other issues; go read the post.

Then I was thinking about what I should or could do about all this. By and large, I think the answer is probably “Nothing, unless some sasquatch expresses misogyny in your presence.” But then…

Nothing may come of this, but I was approached to do a split keynote for a state library association, half of a point-counterpoint on an issue of some interest. (I’m deliberately keeping this as blind as possible because of the “nothing may come of this.”) After noting that I wasn’t as much of a “counterpoint” on this issue as might be desired, I said I’d be interested. The “point” person turned out not to be available. The person trying to organize the keynote asked whether I had other suggestions. I provided one obvious one…

…and then, an hour or so later, sent another three suggestions of people who would (I believe) all do excellent jobs as the other half of the keynote. All of them articulate, intelligent, knowledgeable on the issues (probably more so than I am). And, oh, by the way, all of them women. The topic is, to be sure, in the realm of library technology.

We’ll see what happens. And if a similar situation arises in the future, I do believe I’ll see what I can do…when and where it’s appropriate.

Journal of Electronic Publishing: Second new issue

Friday, August 25th, 2006

The current issue here is volume 9, issue 2: Summer 2006.

So what?

So after JEP disappeared for an extended period, it was a delight to see 9:1… but in some ways it’s the second new issue that signals an ongoing enterprise.

I haven’t read any of the articles yet so won’t offer comments on the content. Seems like a varied group, and certainly worth checking out.

College Frosh are all 6-8 years old?

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

I’ve been seeing links to Beloit College’s frosh mindset thingie all over the place. I even read the list of 75 elements of why these people aren’t like you and me, all the “always” and “everyone” stuff.

Several of them struck me as a little doubtful (There have only been two presidents! Thus, the incoming class is no more than 14 years old). One, though, struck me as, well,

just. plain. wrong.

“Google has always been a verb.”

Google did not exist until September 1998. Period. Here’s the link.

I find it extremely unlikely that many people used “Google” as a verb before 2000.

So for today’s incoming college students, “always” means “six years, give or take?”

But the list sure does get Beloit a lot of free publicity! Even when it’s (ahem) wrong.

Update: The Chronicle of Higher Education has a “short subject” on the Beloit list in the 9/1/06 print edition, pointing out that they got a number of other things wrong. The response of one of the compilers? “This is not serious in-depth research.” The other says it’s still valuable as a discussion tool–even if it’s dead wrong. (The compilers talked to all of one college-bound student and a “handful” of students already at Beloit.)

Lesson: Never take a marketing gimmick too seriously.

Pathetic little boys in men’s bodies

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

I’ve been laying low on one set of discussions (except privately) for reasons of my own[*]. But within those private discussions I have had more than one occasion to note that there really are a fair number of “men” who apparently never found any reason to grow up…and maybe close their little clubhouse with its No Gurlz Aloud sign.

Well, now. I don’t read Forbes. I’m not going to link directly to this article because I sure don’t want to give it any extra “link love.” I’ll link to this post instead.

Pathetic. Truly pathetic. Also shameful.

Even more shameful: That a supposedly respectfulable “business” magazine would run such tripe.

[Second revision: It’s hard to type when you’re outraged.]

Addition, 8/24: Apparently Forbes pulled the “article”–then reposted it as an opinion piece, side-by-side with a counterpoint of sorts.

Then I looked at some of the comments. Not all–Forbes’ message format doesn’t make that at all easy (you have to open each message individually)–but the most recent page (30, maybe?).

And then went to wash my hands.
In a comment on another blog, I made a silly pseudo-mistake relating Maxim to Forbes. Based on many of the comments, I now wonder whether that’s all that silly, at least as far as some portion of the male readership is concerned.

(Yes, you’ll see that charming term “feminazis” used more than once.)

*Footnote added: Having a lot to do with scapegoating one particular ALA session and group, even more to do with one particular personal situation, and nothing at all to do with the underlying issues: Yes, too many techie “men” are really little boys in men’s bodies; yes, that’s unacceptable; yes, it’s up to men who have grown up to call sexist “humor” what it is; and no, there really is no place within the library field or its technological segments for the trivialization of women.

Five Weeks to a Social Library

Monday, August 21st, 2006

I could point you several places, but this is as good a starting point as any. [Modified shortly later: Meredith Farkas’ post may be an even better starting point. If I ever want to get something important and difficult done, getting Ms. Farkas and some of these other people involved would be a great way to start!]

Disclaimer: I have no part in this operation, and I’ve never taken part in this sort of web-based course with limited participation. (Nor will I be signing up for one of the 40 slots, since I’m not in a library.)

But from what I can see of the stellar planning group–

  • Michelle Boule
  • Karen Coombs
  • Amanda Etches-Johnson
  • Meredith Farkas
  • Ellyssa Kroski
  • Dorothea Salo

— the approach they’re taking, and the whole concept, this looks like a sure-fire winner. It’s also serving the idea of innovation on a (cost and time and skills) budget, which is vital to widespread adoption of innovative ideas.

Likely to be Very Good Stuff. Go read the call for proposals; follow the process; participate if it makes sense for you. I certainly plan to go over some of the archived outcomes.

50-Movie All Stars Collection, Disc 10

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

Yes, it’s that time again: four TV movies on DVD. If you’re an IMDB aficionado, you’ll find that I sharply disagree with user ratings on two of these movies. So what else is new?

A Real American Hero, 1978, color, Lou Antonio (dir.), Brian Dennehy, Forrest Tucker, Ken Howard, Brian Kerwin, Sheree North, Lane Bradbury. 1:34.

The stick-wielding sheriff in the “Walking Tall” movies, Buford Pusser, played here by Dennehy, in a plot that deals with bad moonshine, a double-crossing worker in his office, a reformed call girl who the Proper Ladies force to stay in Her Part of Town using obsolete statutes–and using other obsolete laws to legally harass a bad guy. Ken Howard makes a great villain. Not great, but watchable, albeit with some picture and sound flaws (and huge lapses in logic). $1.

Get Christie Love, 1974, color, William A. Graham (dir.), Teresa Graves, Harry Guardino, Louise Sorel, Ron Rifkin. 1:14

Remember Teresa Graves from Laugh-In? First black woman hired in a major city police department, goes undercover to take down a major narcotics operation, great costumes, great attitude. It became a one-year series. Very much of its time, but not bad at all. $1.25.

Born to be Sold, 1981, color, Burt Brinckerhoff (dir.), Lynda Carter, Harold Gould, Dean Stockwell, Sharon Farrell, Lloyd Haynes. 1:36.

The title may tell you most of what you need to know: this is a “social crisis of the week” movie. Lynda Carter is an overworked social worker; one pregnant 14-year-old client maybe doesn’t want to carry through with the adoption agreement. Turns out there’s a baby-farming operation for high-priced private adoptions. Carter manages to crack it, of course (and the client winds up pregnant again). Lynda Carter’s always a pleasure to watch and Dean Stockwell always makes a good villain—but this one just feels tired. $1, charitably.

The Hanged Man 1974, color, Michael Caffey (dir.), Steve Forrest, Dean Jagger, Will Geer, Sharon Acker, Brendon Boon, Cameron Mitchell. 1:13.

A gunslinger who might be innocent of the current charge but certainly killed others gets hanged. But it doesn’t quite take: He revives and seems to be able to read minds under some circumstances (which doesn’t really seem to have much to do with the plot). Seeking redemption of sorts, he gets involved in a mining-claim war between the swaggering evil mining baron and a beautiful widow with a spunky son. I know, I know—but for some reason, I found this Western eminently watchable, quite possibly workable as the lower half of a double bill. Maybe it’s the excellent video quality and sere western landscape: It just felt right. $2.

Too much stuff

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006

That may be a fairly universal complaint in this economy of abundance–but I’ve always thought we were exceptions. We’ve moved from a small house to a slightly smaller house to an even slightly smaller house; we sure aren’t about to rent storage space, so we just can’t accumulate much stuff. (What do I mean by “smaller”? Under 1,200 square feet. Our realtor wonders when we’ll ever get out of “starter houses.”)

Beyond that, we’re really not much for shopping (OK, the truth: my wife hates shopping and I’m not a whole lot better), we’d really like to have enough money for retirement, and our only real indulgence — cruises, although it’s been 14 months since our last one — don’t produce stuff except for photos.

We’re also not early adopters. I’d love a high-def wide-screen TV–but our 10-year-old Sony XBR is such a spectacularly good TV that it’s hard to think about changing. Sure, it would make sense to get a DVR and stop using our S-VHS recorder for the small amount of time-shifting I do–but, well, see up top about hating shopping, and the S-VHS recorder works just fine.

So I thought about DVD players: How many of them did we have? We have one TV. Well, except for the other TV I use for exercising. We have one DVD player. Except for the one that’s built in to the little Apex I exercise to. Oh, and except for the player we won in a Safeway drawing a couple of months ago (sitting out in the garage; there were hundreds of winners, and I think it’s a $40 player).

Oops. My PC came with a CD burner and a DVD-ROM player…but after the first CD burner stopped working, and the ultra-cheap CD burner I replaced it with didn’t really work right, I bought a name-brand DVD burner. So that’s two more.

And, of course, my wife’s cheap little notebook has a combo CD burner/DVD player.

Good grief. We have six DVD players. And we’re really not consumers. It gives one pause.

Now, about CD players… I count ten. Our little home stereo. A $15 portable player that works just fine with a $10 set of headphones as an upgrade. And two fairly expensive “CD players,” the two Civics in the driveway.

Plus, of course, the six DVD players.

But hey, we have zero food processors, zero automatic coffeemakers (I make coffee, every morning, with an old Melitta ceramic holder, Trader Joe’s unbleached filter, Trader Joe’s Kauai coffee that I grind fresh–we had two coffee grinders when we got married–and boiling water from the Target Philip Graves-designed teakettle; works great, and takes no longer than an automatic), zero PDAs, zero set-top boxes…

But six DVD players. The stuff is too much with us.

And how are things in your household?

The mandatory apologia

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Seems like every time I do a Really Big Essay, I wind up doing a followup here–usually with various clarifications, apologies, whatever.

This time? Not so much. Admittedly, the issue came out in the dead of vacation time (and the stats show that), so reactions may keep trickling in, but I think the first wave has arrived.

Here’s what I conclude and will or won’t clarify based on that wave:

  • I spelled out the selection criteria clearly enough. At worst, I had to suggest that people go back and read the first part of the article. No apologies required.
  • Including non-English blogs was the right thing to do. So, I think, was not offering any qualitative comments on the blogs: Letting them “speak for themselves” through taglines, categories, and sample post titles.
  • I should possibly have spelled out more cases in which good blogs in the Great Middle fell out during metrics. Free Government Info is another case where the blog setup made metrics too time-consuming to be worthwhile (as it offers archives on a one-day-at-a-time basis). There may be others.
  • The effort was probably worthwhile, based on responses so far. Not every essay has to have a direct point, at least not in C&I.
  • The wombats will always be with us. I should remember to ignore certain of them.
  • You can’t please everybody, and I already knew that.

Further comments definitely invited. Suggestions for new sources of blogs? Not so much. I already know what I plan to do next year (energy, time, world conditions allowing), and I don’t believe it will include scouring the internet for liblogs. Unless I do two feature articles, and that’s not in the current plans. (And, as we all know, plans never change!)

So there’s the mandatory followup.

Oh, one more thing: I’m seeing lots of links to the HTML version of the essay. That’s fine, as long as you expect people to read 18,000 words online. Otherwise, you’re helping to use more paper: Remember that the easy-to-read, designed PDF takes 30 pages and the HTML version of the lead essay will typically take 48 or more. I almost didn’t do an HTML version for precisely that reason. I know some of you detest PDF for whatever reasons; but printing out the HTML really is the wrong way to go. Reading it all on screen? If that’s your preference, that’s why I did the HTML.