Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Congratulations, you're an idiot. Here's your diploma.

I still haven't read anything that proves that the "Augmented Reality App for Shelf Reading" is worth considering for any library. If you haven't seen the video, the app runs on a tablet with a camera and as you point the camera at a shelf of books, the camera scans the 2D codes on the spines to tell if the books are in order.

Wait. 2D codes on the spines? Yes, you have to add another label to each book in your library. All, 200,000 of them. Or 10,000. Or 3 million. What does it matter, it's another label someone has to apply to the book spine. A label that probably won't work on a book that's thinner than .75 inches.

So you scan the shelf and the books are marked with green checks if in order or a red X if not. And then an arrow points in the direction where the out-of-place book needs to be moved.

And then you scan again until the shelf is in the correct order.

And this is faster than teaching the student how to read the call number. (???)

It also doesn't explain what to do if the book is completely in the wrong place and on the wrong shelf. Does the arrow point behind me or up the next floor?

So my guess is that the student pulls the books from the shelf that can't be fixed by the app and puts them on a cart for someone else to shelve: that one kid who actually knows the LC system. And then the first student closes the Shelf Reading app and starts playing Abduction!

So instead of learning the shelving system, the student learns... nothing. Remember, this is a Digital Native®. He can't be bothered to learn something that isn't intuitive (to him) or doesn't require casting spells or collecting gold or keys or the rote memorization of Xbox attack combos.

So now we have a potential library school student who won't know the call number classification system used in his library.

But let's see if that's a deterrent to getting a library job.

Here is what I imagine the job interview for a typical Digital Native® would be like:

Library HR: I'm sorry, you have a doctorate in library science?How did you get your MLS?

Digital Native®: I made a video that was viewed 3 million times. It was a parody of that song? I forget. But we danced around and it was awesome. Sorry, I mean, epic. Or sick. Oh, whatever the hell we kids are saying these days.

Library HR: And your doctoral research was in which subject?

Digital Native®: Viral Marketing. I wrote an app. It was downloaded 1.5 million times.

Library HR: What was the app?

Digital Native®: It was in protest of the HarperCollins ebook policy of only allowing 26 downloads for libraries. It was an image of the CEO of HarperCollins, Brian Murray And when you tap his face, he farts. It was downloaded 1.5, um, right now, 1.7 million times. It was featured on Jimmy Fallon.

Library HR: As much as it pains me to say this; congratulations, you're hired.

Now downloaded 1.8 million times!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

things not taken for granted

something to write on
something to write with
over the counter medications
clean clothes
clean water
hot food
the sound of birds chirping, tweeting
Stephen Fry Tweeting
a place to keep your stuff
a safe place to sleep
a safe place to poop
hearing, seeing, touching, smelling, tasting
getting through the day without killing anyone
not dreading or fearing what might happen at night
not having to hide during the day

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Quotes 50¢

The digitized book or periodical is opening the door to all new potential revenue streams. Because digitization means info mining becomes easier; I can find any fact or word or phrase in any published work in only a few seconds.

Previously, a publisher or author could quote a source and give credit within the work to create payment: I cite you and give credit and you have no legal right to complain.

You published your book and maybe it made some money, but mostly, it didn't. And the source felt no bitterness at losing a piece of a pie that was never made.

But now, each and every word can be isolated and tracked and highlighted and aggregated and analyzed and valued. So then, if each and every word can have value, where does "fair use" end? The threat of an accusation of plagiarism is no longer enough. Is there now a point where compensation is required?

Let's say I quote you in my book. And you make the argument that there is a greater need for creators to know how much of their work is being shared or read or highlighted or critiqued than there is for the reader to retain her privacy, then a site like Amazon would be required to turn over statistics for which of your words are increasing in value.

I quote you. And my book becomes popular. And you find out that people are quoting you from the quote they found in my book. You could go back to my publisher and demand payment for what has now increased in value. Fair Use ends when it's no longer Fair. And you might take me to court to prove that it's no longer fair. And then others would let the courts decide where fairness ends and payment begins.

The point is, that when bits and pieces of longer works leave the pack to stand on their own, then there could be a reason to side with the creator and rule that money needs to change hands.

Can you imagine reading an ebook and suddenly finding that one of you favorite quotes has disappeared because the author didn't pay?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Future of Librarians is the Future for Everyone

To be honest, if I didn't work in a library, I wouldn't think much about them.

When I was in middle school, the library was a place to hide between the hallway beatings I got from bullies. When I got to high school, the library was a place to hide from school security while I skipped classes. But in college, that all changed and I learned to use the resources to find what I needed. Plus, they had back issues of Playboy.

I'm trying to imagine what the library would mean to me if I wasn't a librarian. And it's difficult, if not impossible. So I'll confess my bias and present my proposal.

I think libraries require a federal agency to combat online ignorance.

This is not a lie: a week before Tax Day, a guy came in to file. And so a peer gave him a slip of paper with IRS.GOV written on it. No mistake, it said, IRS.GOV.

After a while, the guy came up to the desk because he was having trouble printing and since he had closed out his windows, I asked him to get back to the site from where he wanted to print. And so he went back to IRSGOV.COM. Because that's where he went to file his taxes.

I think he got through the links to TaxAct and that's where he filed, but the point is that he was a fucking idiot. We didn't send him there. But we didn't type the address into the browser to get him there, either. So where should we draw the line at holding hands?

And that's where I think that there needs to be a federal agency established to keep stupid people from allowing the online digital world to fuck up their meat world lives.

We are actively discussing and planning for a Digital Public Library or a National Digital Library, or whatever it might be called, and if this happens, I think we also need National Digital Librarians. In fact, based on what I see in my library daily, we need them now.

We currently require Nutrition Labels to be printed on all food and supplement items, so why can't we begin to require Information Labels to accompany all Internet searches?

This new federal agency, possibly jointly formed by the FDA, CDC, NSF, NIH, FTC, could regulate Internet search results with this new label that would measure things like:
Reputation, Likes, Freshness, Backlinks, Ads, Cookies, Super Cookies and
Chances This Search Will Fuck Up Your Life Somehow.

I see a future where librarians are an essential component in the individual safety and education of each Internet user. And if we get close to creating this National Digital Library, librarians should make their voices heard and be part of it. And they need to remember to wash their hands.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Censored Genius = the.effing.librarian

Just a clarification on why this blog has no "bells and whistles" for commenting or contacting me or buying tee-shirts: it's because I quit blogging last year, but I still had a few things I wanted to say and the usual outlets didn't seem to fit. So I made this.

Since I quit the blog I wrote called "the effing librarian," I've posted a few things at Closed Stacks and at LISNews. but there are also things that I write that I didn't want to burden others with, so I created this site.

I don't have time to devote to a blog, so that's why this is just a generic page with no extras. I also never expected anyone to visit and leave comments.

Anyway, I'm glad you found the place even though I didn't expect company so all I have is some white grape juice and hard boiled eggs in the fridge and a bottle of tequila in the freezer. Make yourself at home. No, I don't have cable. Or wifi.

If you're looking for "I'm the fucking librarian, motherfucker" shirts, you can get them through the following links, although they are not my shirts, someone else made them and they say that proceeds go to the American Library Association:

I'm the fucking librarian, motherfucker
I am not any corporation's bitch

I don't know if there's any copyright issue because these are based on what I wrote, but so long as I don't see the shirts for sale at Target, I won't get all lawyery.

You can also buy books from my previous blog at Amazon, including "an effing intimate, effing special, effing unique, effing personal and effing affordable collection" for $9.

And you can read other stuff at Scribd for free. Thanks for stopping by. If you use the toilet, put the seat back. You know how I hate having a wet ass.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Fight Goes On.

Hmm, I was torn between War, Battle and Fight, but I went with Fight because I'm being optimistic and hoping this isn't a war. Because this is about libraries and what the business world is doing to kill them, dead.

I suspect that everyone but librarians wants libraries to become tools of corporations, to be Kindle support centers, or wireless hubs for Netflix streams, or whatever else is out there. But they don't want us to be libraries. Because libraries are run by librarians.

And that's the problem: librarians.

A recent post by Seth Godin attempts to define a librarian as something limited by format: print books are bad, digital bits are good. So librarians should become digital wizards, or something. I think the current hip term is "data sherpa who directs and engages conversations," or some other bullshit. And a librarian is bad if she's not continuously evolving and growing toes.

But a good librarian would never exclude a data format from the search results. You ask me for information on turtles and you're getting everything I can find, and that includes printed books. But chances are, you're going to wave your Kindle in my face and say, "I want it here." And regardless of my reply, my eyes will tell you to go fuck yourself.

Sixty percent of the world's people would kill to have a library filled with books. Some countries won't even let you into a library without proper identification. But Americans, on our rapid decent from being a world power toward become the world's bag boy, have lost sight of what has lasting value and moved on to what has recurring monthly fees. In response to Seth's Blog, Bobbi Newman says, "One of the many roles of the public library is to ensure that all people have access to that information."

And that is the fundamental difference with every current view of the library and the real purpose of the library: Libraries are for everyone.

Read a dozen news stories from the past year and there has almost always been some derogatory comment about the homeless sleeping in the library, or people looking at porn or Facebookers, or DVD renters or old people doing the crossword puzzles in the paper or whatever. As if these people don't deserve access to what they want, even if what they want is crap. And that's my job to decide. Not Amazon's job or Netflix's or Godin's. I'm the fucking librarian, motherfucker. I am not any corporation's bitch. And if I want books in the library, we're having books. And DVDs. And econtent. And graphic novels. And pie.

I see the war on the horizon. I see the battle here at our door. And the fight has been going on for years, as this is now 14 AG (Anno Google), and librarians have had to convince others of our relevance since the birth.

I understand that Seth is a book writer, and that he needs to make his ideas sound important. But I don't want to work in his library filled with computer terminals. I see that world each and every day and I don't like the crowd it attracts.

So I won't say Seth is totally wrong, but I think he sees libraries as some untapped reservoir of consumer dollars and that libraries should direct that energy into buying or selling more products. At least that's what I think when I hear phrases like, "create value."

I don't need anyone telling me what kind of librarian I should be. I'm the kind I always was, the kind I was trained to be: you ask for crap and I help you to find or do it. And I don't see that description changing, ever.