Archive for September, 2010

readings: week one term one

And here begins my bloggy notes on things I’m reading for school. If you’re following along, trying to get the equivalent of an MLIS degree without going to school, this is the stuff to read.

Monopoly vs Myst and other things about technologyby Nardi and O’Day

It is not necessary to jump on the digital bandwagon. It is dangerous, disempowering, and self-limiting to stick our heads in the sand and pretend it will all go away if we don’t look. We believe that much more discussion and analysis of technology and all its attendant issues are needed.

On Information Ecologies by Nardi and O’Day:

Diversity is necessary for the health of the ecology itself, to permit the system to survive continual and perhaps chaotic change. Monoculture – a fake, brittle ecology – gives sensational results for a short time, then completely fails. Information ecologies should be teeming with different kinds of people and ideas and technologies. It is captivating to wander through a rain forest and stultifying to be stuck in a hundred acres of soybeans. A diverse information ecology is a lively, human, intensely social place, even if it incorporates very advanced technologies. It has many different resources and materials and allows for individual proclivities and interests.

There was also an interesting bit in there about how they advocate constructing good info ecologies instead of resisting harmful ones.

What else? The first chapter of Reference and Information Services in the 21st Century by Kay Ann Cassell and Uma Hiremath. That one had some ethical considerations for librarians which were not unreasonable, and some good stuff about Reader’s Advisory work.

For another course we had to read a big heavy philosophical piece on Information As Thing. Evidently this is very similar to what Plato says about art as well. The biggest weirdness I had with that article wasn’t Information as a thing, but information as a process. I don’t think of information being the same as education, but the article kind of took that as a given and then went into all sorts of details about how information is stuff. That went really well with module 2 from LIBR500

Speaking of LIBR500: Russell Ackoff, a major systems theorist, wrote that the content of the human mind can be classified into five categories:

1.Data: symbols 2.Information: data that are processed to be useful; provides answers to “who”, “what”, “where”, and “when” questions 3.Knowledge: application of data and information; answers “how” questions 4.Understanding: appreciation of “why” 5.Wisdom: evaluated understanding.

And then there’s another thing I read that argued with that categorical system, because the idea of people being involved in Wisdom Management seemed unbearably pretentious.

And at this point I think I’m at the point of being whelmed with information. Not underwhelmed anymore. I’ve got a whole ‘nother day off tomorrow to read more supplemental stuff if I feel like it. I missed school.

career track

Yesterday I sort of began my library school career with a new grad student orientation dealy. It was for grad students in general, not just us wannabe information professionals, but that was good. It was good because it was this weird parallel universe where success is some sort of attainable goal. A world where people weren’t coming into a dying field with no jobs. A totally imaginary world.

It was neat looking at it from this perspective. This idea that “The success of our grad students is the success of our university!” and “Here’s how to be successful as a grad student” and “Succeed!” is kind of foreign to me. I mean, I wonder how many fellow new librarian students have this idea of success even being possible, and how many are just in it for some sort of job. A job the profession might not have.

So now read this post from the.effing.librarian. It’s about how libraries’ll bounce back, how we aren’t quite a dead profession, but it’s a hard time right now. My favourite bit is below:

The problem with being a librarian is that you can’t really do it yourself. You can’t open a private library down the street as you would if you were a dentist or an accountant. I don’t know any librarian with a business card that reads, “Have Books, Will Travel.”

Or maybe the librarian travels from town to town with a laptop performing Internet searches for people in exchange for a night in the barn and a slice of peach pie. And that’s how we’ll survive, leaving librarian chalk signs for each other about which towns are librarian friendly and which ones google everything and will run you out of town on sight.

Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

See, that’s the kind of existence I would love. I want that business card. Or I could just be in some out of the way place, making sure information is available. That’s the kind of success I’m looking for. All this bigger Success talk sounds wrong, or misguided or something. Naive maybe.

I shouldn’t be cynical about my (future) job just yet, right? Getting into Titanic metaphors when I’m just starting school? But this might be the best way for me to find an edge, a fringe, a periphery to do something interesting. Not just a traditional library job. Selah.

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