Skip to content
Aug 18 / adejesus

Last transmission and thoughts on libr559m

I recently posted my evaluation of the class. I was struck how one of the early themes in the class came and bit me in the ass: on the separation of the personal and professional. Something like a school class seems to straddle that divide since classrooms are not as formal as the workplace but not as casual as a pub. This particular class was somewhat of an experiment for me: could I successfully leave behind my old conceptions of professionalism and actually engage in a class for the first time in six or seven years?

Certainly it started out that way. I was so engaged and immersed in the class that I was chastised for ‘babbling’ by our instructor: it was likely meant to be lighthearted but it still stung. This was quickly followed by the debates surrounding the professional and personal in the field (or any field, I suppose). In this debate, I continuously did my best to point out how even having this distinction apply to you is a privilege. There are many folks in the world who simply don’t have that luxury. In other words, the only way for a person like me to be ‘professional’ is to entirely erase large portions of my personality. Ultimately, I ceded the field and allowed myself to be silenced. It is possible no one noticed, but I certainly noted a distinct downgrade in my participation, engagement, and immersion in the class. I quickly became concerned only with fulfilling the requirements and getting my three credits, just like every other class I’ve had in the past five years.

I bring all this up in context of the evaluation because I didn’t write many of my comments because they would have clearly identified me: I’m back to being a professional. Even now, I’m not really leveling any actual criticisms and I won’t. This class has certainly re-affirmed that I must allow myself to continue to be erased if I wish to succeed in my chosen field.

On other matters, I noticed another theme in the class: a distinct pessimism about the field as a whole. A lot of negative feelings about the direction and future of the information profession. This pessimism is not unique to this class, it appears endemic amongst professionals today. In some ways, I see this as a direct consequence and fault of the usual way history and narratives are taught in this culture. That Marxist notion of revolutions and constant breaks from tradition to carve new paths in history. I don’t buy this narrative and my optimism about the profession remains unchanged.

Instead, I’ve also been arguing for a perspective of continuity to a few different people and on a few different topics. I think it is important to always locate current trends and notions in the larger context of history and human nature. There are no radical breaks or revolutions: simply transitions from one state to another, each determined by what came before. There is also far, far more stability in humans than many people in this class seem to think.

In terms of the profession, all I can see are the exciting opportunities. I can also see how there is room for everyone in a field as diverse as information. There are those in the class who want to be children’s librarians. I’ll agree that the outlook can be disheartening. However, people are still having babies. They still like having these babies read to. They still need these babies to grow, learn, and be educated. How can there ever be an end to children’s librarians? Maybe you’ll be reading from an iPad with data projector. Or whatever. But the basics remain the same. The only thing that could bring this niche to an end is if there are no more babies. Focusing on continuity and what is stable is how I maintain my biyuti. Simply a suggestion.

I live my life with the belief that there is room enough for all of us. For me to be a ‘professional’ as myself, instead of being Abraham cast in the role of Librarian. I would like my performance to actually be one that represents me. I dream of this day. There is also room for those who do not wish to constantly be learning new social media tools and only want to deal with rare books. The world is vast and we can make space for everyone.

And, thus, I bid farewell to Libr559M. I learned a great deal (many of the lessons weren’t on the syllabus and not all were positive — but I *learned*). To those I argued with, I want to you to know that I hold no grudges. While I took much of what occurred very personally, I remain focused on the bigger picture. I leave this class not with resentment or ill-will, but with greater resolve to create a world where all people are free.


Aug 14 / adejesus

I finally try second life and fail to immerse myself

And, unsurprising, was unable to find an avatar that even represented a portion of myself. I realize that part of the appeal of second life is the ability to come as you aren’t, but I find it interesting that (apparently) *no one* wants to be Asian. Of course, this could be because I was using the basic, free account. Perhaps they have more diverse and inclusive avatars if you pay. Maybe they have *Asians* at a higher pay grade. Of course, I didn’t have to try and pick Asian. But they still didn’t even have my skin tone or anything close to it.

This, of course, doesn’t even begin to touch the gender thing. I wish I could say that I was surprised to find my gender entirely erased from the virtual world. I mean, my gender is erased in the *real* world. I could say more about this, but isn’t this enough?

I will say that this module is supposed to be about immersion and it uses, frequently, these virtual worlds as examples. Except, I don’t understand how a 3D virtual world supports immersion anymore than other social, text based, media? Is not one able to deploy several different tools to immerse themselves in a virtual but non-graphic world? I feel like this is what I do with blogs.

The problem with holding up these virtual worlds as the only or best examples of immersion is how they, at their very construction, have been built to exclude certain types of people. I can be cat but I can’t find a human representation of myself: this will always prevent me from immersing myself in this environment. How could it not?

But in the world of text, especially text written by other POC, I don’t find myself erased or excluded. Thus, I tend to immerse myself in those communities. If anything, these worlds are more *virtual* than something like Second Life. For it is only in the imaginations of the oppressed that communities outside of or safe from their oppressors exist. Since they definitely don’t exist in the off-line world.

Whereas, in Second Life, I am unable to be myself. Just like the real world. At least with the ‘virtual’ world it is because I’m not even a part of the world. For the real world, however, it is to preserve a false sense of safety. To keep my job. To, essentially, survive.

Aug 9 / adejesus

Drupal and aggregation

Since everyone’s been talking about what Drupal can do, I thought I’d do a quick post showing how aggregation works on it. This was easy for me to set up because I’ve been building my personal site on Drupal for the past few months or so (not much spare time but I’m getting pretty happy with it). This is my current version:

My planned website built with Drupal

Here is a more busy version with even more feeds aggregated into the front page (that centre area is for blog posts):

What I’m really liking is the ability to lifestream, the major reason why I’m interested in using Drupal. Lifestream is aggregating all of your created content into one chronological post (i.e., stream). In the next image look at how the three posts are from Tumblr, Twitter, and

(although, amusingly, it is a little redundant since I currently use Tumblr to simultaneously publish to Facebook and Twitter and sucks in those links…)

Aug 9 / adejesus

One last thought about creation…

A classmate had a very interesting criticism of my podcast: namely that it was hard to follow along with. Now, part of this was a basic criticism of the form, namely that in today’s multi-media culture audio without video (or visual content) is a bit of an aberration.

It made me recall some of my research into the form of podcasts themselves, which is a way to stream audio content. It served to do to radio what blogs did for newspapers. It was one of the earlier new forms or participatory medias of the internet.

When I originally told my chum that I was considering switching to podcasts, he wasn’t very enthused about it because he felt that most people (including him) would prefer to read (or possibly watch) something on the internet.

One criticism that I did feel was apt, was that the content of the podcast was not well-suited to the audio format. It really made me realize that oe always needs to consider the medium before devising the message, since some content is better suited to some mediums.

Although, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m starting to feel that this is false. When new media arise, they immediately begin to determine which kinds of expression are well suited to them. Yet, how were people expressing these same thoughts before the medium in which they are communicated? Seems like a chicken/egg scenario. Perhaps my original feelings were right: any content can suit any medium. The only substantive difference is the audience.

Aug 4 / adejesus


So, I’ve lately become interested in trying my hand at podcasting. I’ve downloaded the open source audio software, Audacity and recorded my first podcast! Now, this is a combination of module 4 activities because in Dean’s slides he mentions that doing an outline is one personal activity. I actually did an outline for our group but decided, instead of posting the text, to create a podcast of the outline.

You can listen here!

LIBR559 Final Group Project Outline

Now, we just need to get some server space…

Jul 31 / adejesus

The structure of collaboration

As we finish up with collaboration in class I wanted to one last post regarding my observations about one things which is necessary to effective collaboration: hierarchy. Anyone who has been following my posts about social media in our society will have noted my big emphasis on social justice. So it might seem strange that I feel that hierarchies are necessary for effective collaboration.

However, human beings tend to form hierarchies whenever there is more than one person in a group. Thus, I actually think it is far wiser to consciously choose the working hierarchy, otherwise the hierarchy spontaneously generated will likely just reflect the current inequities of our society.

In my group’s wiki project one member immediately set themselves up as the project manager, creating the overall structure for the project but allowing us all the freedom to decide our own involvement. He also would have likely and willingly given up the leadership role if one of us had wanted to do it instead.

Over the last year in library school I’ve had to participate in my collaborative projects. The most successful one after the wiki project is one where we specifically elected on person to be the project manager. It allows everyone more time and freedom to work on their individual pieces if only one person needs to worry about deadlines and the more admin level concerns. It also allows everyone to view that this organizational role is an important contribution: even if the person ends up creating less content for the actual project.

For me, effective and fun collaboration has always relied on the recognition that everyone has different skills and, thus, something to contribute to the overall end product. Collaboration provides a cleate method to recognize and understand how these different ways to contribute are all important and necessary, without privileging only one kind of participation.


** Note: I wanna make it perfectly clear that I think this Wiki assignment and the one I mention are examples of hierarchies done *right*. Also, it they were both examples of collaboration done right and structured properly for success. Great experiences and very educational.**

Jul 28 / adejesus

Nothing new under the sun

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us. There is no remembrance of former things; neither shall there be any remembrance of things that are to come with those that shall come after. (Ecclesiastes 1:9-11)

Howard Rheingold, and the people he refers to in his TED Talk (social scientists, evolutionary psychologists, biologist, etc.), have reached a point in their explorations as to ‘discover’ (or finally recognize) the importance of cooperation and collaboration. To some of us, this realization is so obvious that the true insight one can gain from a talk like this is how utterly oblivious the Western ideology and conception of history, the world, economics, and society really are.

Rheingold discusses the competition between businesses as if it were different than hunter/gatherer communities a long time ago. Actually it is the same thing. Co-operation and collaboration within the community and competition with other communities. Co-operation and collaboration within a big company like Google and competition with other companies. People discuss capitalism today as if it were still grounded in the classical notion of capitalist competition — when nothing could be further from the truth.

So, if there isn’t anything inherently insightful about the notion that human society, by necessity, depends on collaboration, why are we continuously raising the question with social media in mind? The difference is not that people are collaborating or how they are collaborating but why they are collaborating. And how this motivation makes a big difference for how the collaboration plays out.

In evolutionary psychology, one of the reasons given for the fact of religion is that it helps societies grow beyond kinship ties and reciprocal altruism (check here for an abstract to an article about this). It does this by creating a standard by which to measure the trustworthiness of others (adherence to religion indicates trustworthiness, one reason why atheists are among the least trusted groups). Now, it is also a known fact that the affluent societies of Europe and North America have been decreasing in religiosity. However, in these societies we use secular notions of democracy, freedom, etc. to play the function that religion used to for creating an atmosphere of trust (thus a good citizen is inherently trustworthy in the same what that a religious person is).

Okay. So, if we pick on one of the models of modern collaboration that has everyone one in a tizzy, the free software movement, we immediately begin to see both why and how they function. People who believe in free software use this belief to create an affirmative environment of trust: this is where their community is built and what facilitates the effective collaboration.

The key difference I see in a community like this, versus the traditional company model, is the way that hierarchies are not (and could not) be enforced. The very founding principles of this movement mean that it would be difficult for any one person to exert and undue amount of influence over the software being developed. This horizontal, instead of hierarchical, approach to collaboration is what is new and exciting about the introduction of new technology supporting collaboration.*

It allows for trans-national communities to be built on one guiding principle. It allows for these people to find, identify, and work with one another in a collaborative creative process. What those who are used to perceiving Western society as a collection of individuals in competition are surprised by is that this horizontal modality of collaboration is effective. That it works. That it can create some of the best products available today.

This is what is challenging and beautiful about something like Wikipedia: it does not allow one person to arise to authoritative standing but uses the many contributors to create an authoritative document. It is the cacophonous voices of hundreds of people speaking at once that becomes the authority. More than anything, this is the revolution brought about by collaborative software and 2.0 technologies. It is a structural change, not a new creature we haven’t seen before.

We have always collaborated and co-operated. We always will. The beauty of 2.0 is in the chaos it creates.

*Note: hierarchies tend to spontaneously spring up in every community but the definition of free software means that if you don’t like what someone does with it, you can change it — putting a distinct limit on any individuals influence.

Jul 27 / adejesus

Either the best or worst

Collaborative idea ever:

I have often thought that their should be more mixed-use facilities, where several public organizations are all available under one roof, such as a public library, a small police station, and a social services agency office all in the same building.

I realize that I said I wouldn’t mention social justice stuff anymore… But perhaps what I meant is that I would bring it up in a discussion thread, because I (honest to god) cannot let this pass. I’m biting my tongue so hard it is bleeding. No joke.

A classmate (a smart and intelligent classmate, mind you) wrote this on a discussion about collaboration. I do like the idea of a more one-stop shop for civil services and eliminating the service silos provided by cities and municipalities (or, heck, even the federal government).

I don’t like the idea of there being a police station in or near a library. Actually, I don’t like the idea of police being anywhere near my place of business, my home, my recreational areas, etc. Basically, I don’t want the popo anywhere near me. Why? Because they frighten me — I’m more likely to be attacked by the police than a random person in the street. The police are not on the side of any marginalized person, as they represent the direct fist of oppression in our society (and often do the oppression *with* their fists). I’m not the only person who feels this way.

Putting a police station in or near a library *would* be a great way to discourage racial minorities, gender divergent people, poor people, homeless people, and any other group who the police traditional attack instead of protect. This is a great example of why diversity is needed in organizations: to prevent things like this from happening. Unless, the shift from institutional exclusion to direct oppression was the intention (but knowing who wrote that, I doubt it).

Jul 23 / adejesus

A re-evaluation of participation

So, I made a decision at the start of this class concerning my participation. My decision began with mentioning and linking to my social justice blog. I know we’ve had some chats about doing things online that you wish you could take back… But this is only partially that situation. Ultimately, I think it was a valuable experiment. It was a good reminder for me not to mention social justice in class (or, really, in real life).

As we discussed participation in social media this past week it became increasingly clear that the internet, contrary to what most people think, a direct reflection of reality. Well… I think the better way to understand it is as an extension of reality. There is no demarcation between online and in-person communities — communities of any kind exist in the imagination of human beings.

And in these imagined communities (quite real for all their social construction) the systematic exclusion and erasure of people of colour, neuro-divergent people, trans people, gender non-conforming people, queers, bisexuals, differently abled, etc., is a fact of life. I’ve known this my entire life. I’ve also known that my participation in these communities is always contingent on my buying into how these communities are constructed. Meaning that I must accept being excluded or, when included, erased.

Trying to change this reality, by attempting to truly participate, comes at a high emotional cost. One I’m not willing to pay for the sake of 3 credits in school. So, I give up and cede the field. From now on, my participation in social media (within the confines of this class) will be sanitized. I’ve played this game for 9 years (in terms of going to school) and I’ll keep playing it for this last year, because I have my eye on the prize: graduating and succeeding in this field. For, while I’m deciding to maintain my biyuti, I have every intention of not only changing the information profession, but the world.

So, “farewell, Activist Abe” and “hello, Student Abraham.”

Jul 23 / adejesus

Social Justice 2.0

Activism has taken an interesting step in its evolution with the arrival of social media. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is in Feminist blogosphere, perhaps the largest 2.0 community in the social justice movement.

Some examples of conceptions of social justice 2.0:

  • Feminism 2.0: Read this and this (this one is particularly interesting since it was published in 2005) for more information. FYI, feminism 2.0 is also known as third-wave feminism.
  • Racism 2.0 (more about a modern type of racism with no relation to social media)
  • Gay 2.0 (although this is more about hooking up using social media as opposed to social justice…)
  • Gender 2.0 (list of current non-cis gender identities and expressions)
  • Sex 2.0 (which is about sex activism, of a kind, on the internet)

The conclusions from my search that I can draw are: social media is the primary determinant for something being labelled x 2.0. With this in mind, more thoughts will be posted in the discussion forum.



Spam prevention powered by Akismet