Monday, December 17, 2012

Killing Children in America

If there is a mass-shooting somewhere in America, do a search with the words, "shooting," "the place name," and "not surprised."

Anyone who says he is "not surprised" by a mass shooting needs a severe beating.  This person is too far removed from any feelings of empathy and from how people are supposed to behave that he thinks it's normal for some people to shoot other people.

What I'm saying is that if your view of humanity is so warped that you can't BE SURPRISED by the acts of one or two other humans when they take rifles and handguns and explosives and use them to kill large numbers of other humans, then I don't want to know who the fuck you are.  You should keep your mouth shut about this issue.  You are a sad, lost motherfucker, with a sad view of humanity that you are "not surprised."  You should always be ABSOLUTELY FUCKING SURPRISED when someone decides to kill others.

The killers are insane, you say. 

And you're an expert on the insane?  You know what turns the disassociated from living outside of reality to wanting to destroy it? Please tell us because we need to know.

And tell us what it takes to kill children.  On a simple evolutionary understanding, we are designed to protect children.  It's bred into us.  Fucking apes even know this.  And now you're saying that we've lost this basic respect for people smaller, more fragile than us?  Tell us how you know this!
If you said those words, that you are "not surprised" by this slaughter, you best take them back.  You cannot have reached the point where you feel ANYONE has the ability and the MOTIVATION to murder children.  Do you have that power?  You can see it before it happens?  Is this why you are "not surprised"? Yet you did NOTHING to warn us.

Experts can't find a reason for the killings, yet you are "not surprised."  You should seek professional help because you can see monsters where the rest of us can't.

I don't pretend to know, but this is what appears to have happened:
A young man, at 20, we still often refer to these individuals as young adults, HAD A PLAN to kill people.  How do we know he had a plan?  Because he had supplies.

From the New York Times, "A Gunman, Recalled as Intelligent and Shy, Who Left Few Footprints in Life."
By DAVID M. HALBFINGER. Published: December 14, 2012

Still, after hearing of the news on Friday, Ms. Dxxx reconnected with friends from Newtown, and the consensus was stark. “They weren’t surprised,” she said. “They said he always seemed like he was someone who was capable of that because he just didn’t really connect with our high school, and didn’t really connect with our town.”
No one should be capable of this. And your friends should not be the kind of people who think anyone is capable of this.  I'm not saying you shouldn't be prepared to stop someone who might try to kill, but you should for damn sure not be the kind of person who looks around at his neighbors and sees killers everywhere.

If you are not absolutely broken, torn apart, as a human being, then what the fuck is wrong with you?

These are weapons designed to kill men. These are designed to kill soldiers. To kill the ENEMY. And they were used on children.

I don't even want to speculate on why you would have so many guns in your house if everyone knew your son was a crazy motherfucker or why you need so much ammunition in such a small, quiet town.  That's a whole other discussion.  But if the killer was buying the ammunition and extra magazines without his mother's knowledge, then this just adds to the horror that he was planning something terrible and no one suspected.

If you need to know, I own pistols.  But each has only two magazines because I can't imagine any situation where I would want to survive from a shootout where I would need more than 20 bullets.  If I need to survive in a world that has me carrying 100 bullets, and it's not because I've been thrown back in time to 1943, then I don't want to live in that world.

So I don't know what the solution is to predicting these events.  Do we monitor people who buy .223 rifles?  Who collect guns? Who buy "combat gear"? Do we track large ammo purchases?  Do we put chips inside large-capacity magazines that send a signal to the FBI when more than two are stored together?  What is the tipping point to determine that some crazy bastard is preparing to go on a killing spree?

Because if you believe these assholes who were "not surprised" by this carnage, then you have to believe that society has descended into madness and we are all crazy enough to be capable of it.  Which in itself is suspicious as hell. So? Am I supposed to keep my eye on you?

Friday, November 30, 2012

Teleportation and Libraries and Star Wars

Oh, lucky day! I've experienced "teleportation."  It was just the other day.  And it was magical.

If you've never experienced it for yourself, teleportation is the ability "in science fiction and fantasy, to move instantly from one place to another by futuristic, paranormal, or magical means."

But the way it happened was pretty simple, actually.  I was on the library chat desk and had accepted a patron with whom to chat.  And we were chatting politely: she asked a question and I was finding an answer.

But right in the middle of my typing my answer, the screen showed this message, "Guest has left chat."

What? But he was just here?  Where did he go? How did he vanish so suddenly?  The only answer: Teleportation.

Oh, you might think I'm overreacting, being dramatic, but, no, this was a full-blown "moving instantly from one place to another by futuristic, paranormal, or magical means."  Any technology which allows a person to be in one place with someone and then completely disappear from that location is sufficiently advanced enough to be indistinguishable from magic.  Just ask Arthur C. Clarke.  Hence, teleportation.

As you can see, I didn't teleport.  But I was there as another being teleported away.  And although it was fantastic to witness, it was also a great pain in my ass. Oh, yes, it was just chat, you say.  But have you ever had someone hang up on you in the middle of a phone call?  Yeah! It sucks when someone does it.  And then you attribute that modifier to their character: Hey, that guy sucked! So why is chat any different?

Can you imagine a real world with people teleporting in and out of conversations?
"Where's the copier?"
"It's over.."
"Fuck you, too."

And I was surprised to notice on my most recent viewing of Star Wars, that Luke also wondered about how teleportation could change his life when he wondered if his uncle would ever let him leave the farm:
"Not unless you can alter time, speed up the harvest or teleport me off this rock."

Star Wars creeps deny that teleportation exists in the Lucasian Cosmology, in other than very rare instances and by very dark means. But this evidence proves otherwise.

You have three options in understanding this reference, either
a) Luke made up a word that resembles a word we recognize that has an entirely different meaning, or
b) the word means something that is the same as what we think of as teleportation, but isn't real, meaning it's "science fiction," or
c) it's something real that Luke knows of, but is nearly impossible to accomplish.  How Luke would know of this rare Jedi ability just opens up other questions.

To me, the most amazing revelation would be that there is science fiction in the Star Wars universe.  That there might be novels of other worlds where beings exist who have powers and abilities which are totally unheard of in Luke's universe.  It adds another dimension to a fictional world when those characters existing in it also enjoy reading Fiction.

I love when novel include poems or song lyrics.  I like to write song lyrics, but I'm never going to form a band or even learn to play an instrument.  And I suspect the songs aren't even any good because they're all about working in the library, shelving books, cleaning the computer keyboards, etc. because I write what I know.

But when I write stories, I have my characters sing my songs.  And in my fictional worlds, my songs are awesome.  Because it's my world, dammit.  And in my world, Library Music is just as relevant a genre as Country or Hip Hop.

Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh. Oh.
Library woman.
Your hair bun is oh so right
and your sweater's oh so tight
and your intimate grasp of medieval farming techniques
helped with that paper I had to write.
Library woman.
Oh. Oh. Oh.
You keep reminding me
to call you 'Librarian'
and not, Library Woman, but
you're more woman than librarian to me.

Okay, that last part is ripped off from the Bee-Gees, but still, it's awesome, right? Yeah, I know.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

FASTER patron-driven acquisitions (PDA): a library model

OUR LIBRARY has pioneered what we believe is the first program of its kind in patron-driven acquisitions.

One of the problems with most library collections is that although they may be extensive, they can never be complete.  And when the patron requests books on a topic, for example, "theoretical experimental particle physics," although the library may pride itself on its exhaustive collection, with current on-demand and online publishing it can't ever call its collection complete.  So when the patron is given ten current books on "theoretical experimental particle physics," it is still a common occurrence whereby the patron will respond with infantile disappointment.

So the current model of collection development is broken.  Libraries can't ever hope to meet every need. We buy and buy, but it's never enough for some people.  So our library has adopted a new model that reduces our inability to fulfill our patrons' requests down to nearly zero.  If the material exists, we can get it.

Here is a typical PDA transaction at our library:

The patron has expressed a need for some online content and the librarian assesses the system requirements of the content and the system configuration held by the patron  to verify a match. When a match is found, for example, an iPad, the librarian will initiate the purchase by locating the item in the app and downloading it to the patron's device.

"Enter your password."


"This is how it works. Just do it."


"Now tap that."


"And it's downloading to your iPad.  And you can read it right now.  Pretty cool, huh."

"But I didn't want to spend *my* money!  That book was four *hundred* dollars!"

"But the library already spends your money through the taxes you pay.  This is faster."

"You DICK!"

As you can see from the model, the patron gets what they want, when they want it, but the cost to the library has also been reduced to nearly zero.

The uniqueness of this model is that the library does not spend any money, at all, for the item.  The content is delivered to the patron utilizing her own funds.

Patrons get their content when they want it and the library doesn't need to waste staff time creating payment systems for the various e-content retail outlets because the patrons already has those accounts configured on their own devices.

The previous model of collection building by purchasing (leasing) large expensive online products proved over the years to create a WIN-LOSE situation for libraries where patrons WIN by having access to vast online materials, but libraries LOSE by paying yearly maintenance fees to keep the content access current. This model creates a LOSE-WIN situation for the library.

The LOSE-WIN model, where patrons PAY money for their content when they want it is a BIG WIN for our library.  

Libraries can never anticipate demand for any book or magazine.  And other PDA models still suffered from the universal weakness of using library money for something that only one person wants.  Giving patrons the power to buy what they want when they want it with someone else's money was turning them into assholes and we believe this model corrects that behavior.

We believe that the patron-driven/patron-payment (PDPP) model satisfies many libraries' needs for faster delivery of content to their users.  Maybe you will, too.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lies librarians tell. Or maybe just me.

When is a library program not a library program?

According to the rules at my library, I did nothing today.  Two months ago, I submitted the topic for today's program to the marketing department who added it to the schedule of classes we post on our calendars.  One month ago, I created the sign up sheet for the program and posted it in the book at the desk for patrons to enter their information and register for the class. This morning I set up the room, copied the handouts and got the sign-up sheet to check in the patrons who had registered. 

One person showed.

According to the definition of a "program," I did not have one today.  Because the rules say, "training delivered one-on-one and not to a group is not to be counted as a library program."

So, does programming delivered to one person count as a program?

I could argue that as intended the training was for a group, but that's not what the defintion says. So I have two options: submit my sheet with my one student and have the program counted as something else that is not a program, or lie.  So I marked that two people showed.  And two, by my definitiion, is a group.  And by the library's definition, a group means a program.

Most people think wrongly that libraries are here for books, when libraries are really here for statistics.  We continually measure what we do, how long we take to do it, how much it costs and how many people benefit from whatever is done.

Well, at my library, we value library programs.  We offer as many as we can.  We schedule rooms for them, arange speakers. set up chairs, turn on projectors, adjust the A/C.  We count the ones we present, the people who show and the ones we turn away because they came too damn late.

So what I need to know is, what is a program?  Does it matter how many people show, or how big the venue is, or who the presenter is, or whether there was cake?

These are my options for what could be a program compared to what is not.  From the choices below, which would you call programs?

All of these are computer instruction and/or adult informational transactions. But I guess you could modify them to use with story times.  But if you're offering free story times at your library, but the parents/daycares aren't bringing the kids, then you probably have bigger problems than we can solve here.
  • making an appointment for the next day for 30 minutes to show a patron how to download an ebook
  • making an appointment for the next day for 30 minutes to show a patron how to download an ebook and she shows up with her spouse who also wants to learn
  • scheduling a computer program in the computer lab, but only one person shows up
  • making an appointment for the next day for 30 minutes to show a man how to download an ebook and he shows up 3 other people who also want to learn so you move the group into the meeting room or computer lab
  • offering computer catalog instruction the same time each morning: someone attends
  • offering computer catalog instruction the same time each morning: no one attends
  • offering computer catalog instruction the same time each morning, but someone shows up later and wants it then
  • inviting several people to a table to let them see the library's new iPad
  • advertising to invite people to let them see the library's new iPad
  • ?
This is just a survey; there are no wrong answers. But since this is about libraries, there are only wrong answers.

Friday, October 12, 2012

They made me a criminal

So I'm guessing that you're looking forward to the day when the only use you'll have for paper is that you wipe your ass with it.  That you'll do and read everything on your iPad or Kindle or Galaxy or Nexus something something.

And before you shout out, "Wipe your, WHAT?" and earn yourself the nickname Skidmarks McGee, let me explain that in most places in the USA, people use paper to wipe their asses after they poop.  You can see cartoon bears give lessons on TV every day.

But if you prefer not to wipe, I can tell you that if you spray your ass with WD-40, you won't have to wipe at all because nothing sticks. And if you spray a generous coating of"butter-flavor" PAM cooking spray, people will smell you and think you just baked cookies.

Here are your differences between paper books and electronic books, in case you forgot, since that's what this post about, and not ass-wiping:

tear it: no penalty
sell it: no penalty (unless it was intended for foreign markets - see below)
lend it: no penalty
wipe your ass with it: the respect of your peers

reverse engineer it: sued, fined, prosecuted
copy it: sued, fined, prosecuted
share it: sued, fined, prosecuted
modify it: sued, fined, prosecuted

But my asshole friends in the library world tell me that they can get around any protections the industry builds into the format.  Well, fuckety-do to you, Mr, Wizard.  What you're doing is illegal or actionable in a court of law.  And considering the desperation within the publishing industry, I'm guessing that someone is getting fucked by them pretty soon.  Probably not you, but maybe that student you showed how to do all your wizardy stuff.  And if you show someone how to do illegal stuff, they might come looking for you, too.
All this shit is illegal.  Everything we've come to expect from paper is now illegal to do with electronic.  They did the same thing with analog and digital music: copy one and you're fine; share the other and you're fined.

But this is the BIG QUESTION:
Why create a system where the only way I can benefit from it makes me a criminal?

And even bigger, WHY don't you care?

In just a few short years, we went from a country of people who value privacy to a group who just doesn't give a fuck.


This country was founded on giving a fuck.  But I see that lately we feel it's not our place.  We just do what we're told.  Because we're just glad to have a job or be out of jail or have a place to shit.

I don't know what happened to us, but I don't like it.  And like many of you, I barely have two fucks to rub together.  But that means I have one fuck, so I'm giving it.

And if that's not bad enough that we get fucked by technology, we're starting to get fucked by geography.  As an example, if Apple releases a limited edition red iPad in China, but you want one so bad, you know, because you're stupid, that you buy one online or have a friend bring you one or whatever, you WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO HAVE YOUR IPAD SERVICED BY APPLE LOCALLY without the very real threat that will confiscate it because it wasn't meant to be sold here.  Unless you can show you currently live in China.

For years, we've had Regions for DVDs.  We live in Region 1.  And if you try to play a DVD from a different Region, the odds are pretty good that your DVD player will reject it and not play it.  But if you can play those DVDs with a "region-free" player, you might have a collection of Korean or wherever DVDs that you got because they were cheaper or of versions of movies never released in the US, and not on Netflix.  So if these were never intended for the US market, can I ever resell them?

So this isn't just about books or music or movies.  This is about corporations publicly encouraging global commerce, while lobbying for legislation to restrict local commerce.  They want the benefits of cheap labor and and economic growth in emerging markets while still controlling prices and supplies in existing markets.

The message to me seems to be: Buy our Product! Now, Go Fuck Yourself.

Why do we put up with that?

Thursday, October 11, 2012


-- these are meant to be signs placed above the shelves near the books. 

299.7 CAS

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

the Age of Digital Illiteracy

Did you know that the ability to "Like" something is not a sign of digital literacy?  I feel it's a sign of the Apocalypse, but that's beside the point.

So I'm reading the "Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy: Report of the American Library Association Digital Literacy Task Force," Sept 18, 2012 Draft... and I'm feeling less and less literate as I try to understand it.

Right off, while reading "DEFINING DIGITAL LITERACY," I realize that I can't think of anyone who might make the cut for being digitally literate.  The (draft) definition is, "Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills."

Okay, on second reading, I can see that there is no actual level or evaluation of literacy included in the definition.  And I guess that's good for the definition to survive the draft phase.  Because my brain inserts words where none had been:  "Digital Literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills without jabbing yourself in the groin with something pointy; or spilling very hot liquid in your crotch: your choice; tomato, tomahto."

When I think of digital literacy, I feel that there should be some positive outcome from the use of those informational tools.  And by positive, I exclude giving your Social Security Number to online criminals.  Because this draft definition doesn't try to make anyone feel bad for how well or poorly they use information or communication technologies.  In fact, I would guess that this definition could probably make a baboon feel included since about any monkey has the ability to find something, regardless of whether it was the intended or desired material; to evaluate in some form of feces throwing; to create in some other form of feces tossing; and communicate however evolution saw fit to endow them through natural selection; probably something involving feces.

I'm guessing maybe only mollusks might feel some sense of failure.

But that's not what the definition says, so screw you, baboons.  You're not so looking so superior next to those clams, now because they've added this: "It also is important to note that digital literacy *must* include mastery of traditional literacy,..."

Holy crap!  'Mastery of traditional literacy'??  In America?  What the hell is the drop-out rate?  And if that's not bad enough, now they further refine the definition to mean, "...high-level cognitive skills on finding, evaluating, ethically using, creating, and sharing information also are required..."  Really? 'Ethically using'?  Does that include looking at porn?  Too bad. Because I would guess that if you can view porn, masturbate, and not drop your iPad, you've mastered digital literacy.

But the good news is that libraries are already pioneers in developing programs that teach high-level cognitive skill, as the report notes: "libraries have shared that they offer Internet basics taught through searching for and 'clipping' coupons. Librarians report that these classes provide learners with transferable skills in a personally relevant framework." Huh? Clipping coupons?  Maybe my expectations for 'high-level cognitive training' were set way too high.

What really pisses me off about this is that we've had 60 years of television and 100 years of telephones and no librarian seemed to care whether anyone was literate enough to use these information and communications technologies.  No one cared how often you abused the telephone by calling someone at 2:00 A.M. to ask them if their refrigerator was running.  And no one bothered to teach anyone how to evaluate a television commercial that claimed some product or candidate was so much better than the other or that any product promoted in any infomercial was even worth calling that toll-free number to buy.  No one has ever cared whether anyone was literate before now.  Did someone finally notice that telephones and television have made us so stupid that we needed this intervention? 

I teach computer classes at my library.  But if I were required to wait until my students had developed any above-average level (or mastery) of traditional literacy before I allowed them to sit in my classes, my classes would be empty.  Yes, I see students who are prepared to learn, but they sit next to some other guy who has plucked the Q off the keyboard and swallowed it.

I don't know how you can define something which is dependent upon something else: banana, definition: delicious fruit so long as spiders haven't poisoned them. So how can you train someone to be digitally literate if you can't be sure he's mastered traditional literacy?  And that your tools don't present a choking hazard? (Damn you, Q!)

But the truly good news from this "Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy" is this: "Libraries can capitalize on the current interest in digital literacy and at the same time educate stakeholders as to the broader concepts involved in becoming truly digitally literate over a lifetime."

Become literate, then die.  Awesome.

(posted, as usual, without proofreading - don't say I didn't warn you if it doesn't make sense)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Why your library is not a library.

Has your library become a "meeting space"? A "community center"?  If you answered Yes, then your library isn't a library.

You can yell and shake your Doctor Girlfriend action figure at the screen, but it won't help to turn your community center back into a library. All it will take is one asshole handing out pamphlets for some movement and your library will forfeit any protections it ever earned in any court decision.

What keeps a library from becoming a sidewalk or a park or an abandoned lot is that it's not a public forum. What keeps your library a library is that the librarian has the power to enforce behavior. Out on the sidewalk, cops do it. But in the library, you do it. If you lose that, then only the police will be able to regulate what happens in your library.

I think that's a big something missing from library training: "When you become a librarian, you will be the police." But if you're done shaking and you still think your library is better off not being a library, just think about this: Shhhhhh.

If the library is about Free Speech, it's also about No Speech. Free Speech should be communicated quietly, in your head, between you and the author/creator of whatever you are reading/viewing.

When the fuck did you think the shushing started? It started when people walked into the library from off of the loud and busy street and needed to be reminded to Shut the Fuck Up. And do you really want to go back to doing that all day?

When people are giving public speeches in front of the check-out desk in your community-center-not-a-library, you'll be shushing your ass off. It's taken years to get out that message, mostly by doing something even more offensive to get the talkers to stop: shushing.

"I will shush you" is not a fucking joke; it's our legacy. Because in public spaces, each one of us has the right to fuck with other people. We can get right in their faces and shout, "Did you know...?" And then follow with some insane conspiracy theory or mathematical proof or muffin recipe and no one can stop us.

When you give up the quiet, you give up the library. Why do you think cats are associated with libraries? Because they are fucking quiet. Not because their shit smells like roses. That's why you let smelly people in your library.

 I can see a day when libraries will need sound meters to gauge the loudness. 35 decibels is okay. 60 decibels: Shhhhh. But if we're lucky, they'll let us use that water bottle we use to squirt the cat to shoot the talkers right in their agitated faces.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

We've finally figured out the internet

We all know that I Love Lucy was originally used to sell cigarettes.  And we know that soap operas sold soap to housewives.

There has always been a debate about television and whether it only exists to sell us crap through commercials.  But like roads littered with billboards for lawyers and casinos, television is only moderately evil, delivering Downton Abbey sandwiched between promotional bumpers for ADM or the Ford Foundation or other mentions of corporate sponsorships.

I'm not aware of any spam in the days of the text-based web browser, but as soon as mouse clicking became the primary mode for moving through the internet, people found ways to make the journey pure agony.  And in the pre-teen years of the web, everyone agreed that pop-up ads were a major pain in the ass, so we found ways to blow the shit out of them.

But with the move to mobile internet access, we've finally learned what the internet wants from us: everything.  And we give it, gladly.  The internet wants to collect our data to sell us ads and it finally found a way that we can't block.

We have no control over our mobile devices.  There is no choice.  If we want an app, we need to understand that it will track us: it will log our GPS location, our cell tower location, our phone use, contacts, keystrokes, and the temperature of our testicles while the device rests in our pants pockets.

So if you want to use a smart phone or ereader or tablet, you should understand that you will be tracked.  And then don't care.  Because caring would mean that you won't be able to have that app that is so essential to making your life whole because having it would make your forfeit a significant amount of your privacy.  So against all common sense, you download the app.

So in finally figuring out the internet, it seems the internet has finally figured out us.

Me, I don't put any questionable apps on my phone.  I put them on my tablet which knows very little about me and can share all the secrets it wants.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

the world of 3D asses

I'll keep this short: I can't wait until kids are creating 3D asses with our library's 3D printer.

Okay, I lie: we don't have a 3D printer.  And I don't know how much of your ass you can scan on one of those things if we had one.  Are there some printer brands better suited to ass modeling?

I don't know if you remember being a kid, but I had friends who photocopied their asses when we first got copiers in school.  And most of the kids who copied their asses were girls.  It's amazing how being handed an unidentifiable grainy black and white photocopy suddenly becomes super awesome when a girl says, "That's my butt."

Don't tell me you didn't think of ass-modeling when you first heard about these things.  And don't tell me that you haven't created a draft of this sign, neither, for when your library gets one: USERS MUST WEAR PANTS. 

From what I've seen of 3D copiers, none have been advertised as being the best for butts and boobs and dongs.  But I can damn-well guarantee you that if your library gets one of these things, then kids will find a way to make it work and you'll be up to armpits in asses.

Monday, August 6, 2012

why your ebook is not a book

People mistake ebooks for books. In reality, an ebook is a data collection tool dressed up in a moderately entertaining narrative.

This is why used ebooks don't work: How do you reset this data collection tool when it's resold to another user? 

The original purchaser of the ebook most likely used a credit card to buy it.  And an email address.  And possibly an iTunes, Facebook or Twitter or other online social media account that allowed the purchaser to share quotes, thoughts and critiques from the reading of the data collection tool dressed up in a moderately entertaining narrative..
Kobo is just starting conversations with publishers about sharing its data. "Publishers are asking, 'What are people engaging with, and how are they engaging?'" - source
"We do have people tell us that what they love about Kobo is that they can sit on the subway and no one knows what they're reading – it does provide some element of privacy." 
I guess. Until the publisher decides to promote the title to all the other readers through the reader or an app on an interactive billboard: "Someone is being naughty and lingering on p. 142 of Fifty Shades of Grey. Quick, everyone, download the book now and see what's got someone on the train with you all hot and bothered."

"Gathered data is aggregated and anonymous." Right. If you say so.  But like any device that can deliver content, an ereader is just another tracking device for computers to monitor our every movements: 
Where were you when you read that book for 90 minutes?  At the airport?  2,000 miles from the address we have on file for you?  [At this point, the computer is programmed to go, Hmm.]  How many other devices were near this one?  Can we assume these people know each other?  Let's see if we can find other locations where these devices have been in proximity to each other. [The computer makes yummy sounds.]

So if publishers begin to allow users to sell pre-owned ebooks, then what will happen when all this data get dirty with other users?  Users whose credit cards are not known because the transaction was done through a third party? Now all those reading patterns and locations become worthless.

So enjoy your tracking device. And know that when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.  And tells you what to read next.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

People. People Who Need People, are the luckiest people in the world.

First, I need to say that I don't know what the fuck the solution is. I just know that the day will come when libraries won't have any books.  Because there won't be any books to buy.  Everything will be online, downloaded or streamed.  And libraries will either contract for space on some company server to store and distribute that content, or they will host it themselves.  Some enterprising libraries will produce some of that content, but most will lease if from elsewhere.

So, accept that as the future.  What should we do about it?

I think the answer is people.  Or more specifically, librarians and library paraprofessionals.  I have this silly notion that librarians are pretty special.  We have varied skills and interests: complex, eccentric; and can and will help you find what you need.

So when I read that librarians have become skeptical of the promise of ebooks as the cure-all for the demise of the library, I say, Right On, Sister.  We should have been skeptical from the start.

Look at a worst-case: most popular electronic content will be owned by about 15 companies: The Big 6, Elsevier, Viacom, Disney, News Corp, Sony, etc. and it's possible that most of them will agree to exclusive distribution agreements with companies like Google, Amazon and Apple.  And it's possible that even Amazon will become it's own media conglomerate, producing and delivering text, audio and video to Kindle users, including Kindle app users, which are most of us with a new phone or tablet.

So if I had to offer a solution to the future ebook problem, I would say Fuck You to the above corporations.  I would cut my e-content budget and put that money back into staffing. We're so busy trying to sell the "invisible web" (our databases and other subscription content) to our users when they don't seem to care.  They can get what they want with a Google or Wikipedia search.

But our library visitors want service.  They want help with technology.  They want someone to help them sort out the visible web.

Answer: Cut the ebook budget and hire more people.

If that's not enough of an answer for you, then follow the lead from the libraries that are hosting local content.  Distribute the works of local authors, artists and musicians. "People don't want that crap," you say, but come on, millions of people are reading crap right now.  And downloading crap.  And looking at crap.  And they do this because they get recommendations from friends, acquaintances or even online sources and generated lists from computer algorithms.  People don't seem to care from where it comes, so long as some other source said it was worth their time.

And when libraries get good at hosting and distributing content, then they can approach publishers and cut deals to host their content.  But on the libraries' terms.

It seems really possible that Google will succeed in proving that indexing the contents of a book is fair use.  And if Google can do it, then libraries can do it.  And that would be the kind digital content that would benefit all of our users -- imagine being able to do a full-text search through your entire print collection from your online catalog.  And if that happens, then libraries might feel more confident about indexing and hosting more content, creating more meta-data to make collections searchable.  Combine this with the growing (?) movement away from licensing ebooks and toward making arrangements with authors to distribute content through the library, and I can see a future where libraries have the kind of control over content they held back in the old days.  And the key to all this is people.

So, cut the leases and hire the kinds of library workers who can create and manage these resources.  Hire more people to help your patrons access and benefit from these resources.

But who knows what's the best course. Like I've said many times before, I'm not the smartest guy in the room: I just have the best ass.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Reading Fifty Shades of Grey in 2013.

Or, "I just bought a hand-crafted Italian leather ball gag for $19.99."

I wonder what ebooks, or as some of you call the, books, will be like next year.  Many books are being published as apps, with added content such as music, video, annotations, games, etc.

But many apps also include "in app purchasing" where the app delivers more and more content if you pay more money.

Like games for your phone or tablet:  If you want the basic game, you download it for free or for a buck.  Then if you want to actually enjoy the game because the free version sucks, you'll have to pay more money to buy the items you'll need to complete the harder parts.

So if you combine the power to purchase added items with the "book as app" model, you'll get books where you can purchase the items the characters are using right there while you're reading the book.  So you can get that ball gag the stud is strapping to the heroine's face.  Or the dildo she's jamming into him.  Or the champagne or the car or the dress or the music or the .... the list is endless.  In app purchasing for ebooks could become bigger than 2 am infomercials for shitty overpriced exercise equipment.

You could pay to read the even dirtier scenes the author left out of the regular edition.  You could add sound effects each time the whip cracks in the air then licks across the heroine's taught eager ass.

You could pay for images, photos created for the book featuring beautiful models caught at the precise moment of exquisite pain.  Or pay to insert your own photos into the story.  Or change the character's names to match yours.  Or use the names of the 2013 President and First Lady: oooh, naughty.

I don't know what books will be like in a year.  But I can damn well guarantee that if in-app purchases in ebooks become common, more than a few of you will say, "Shit, this book just sold me another dildo. Someone's getting it for Christmas. Maybe grandma?"

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fifty Shades of Fuck You.

So, have you heard this thing where people become sexually aroused and then manually stimulate their own naughty parts so that it feels better and better and better until, BLAM, it feels fantastic and images of Vic Tayback flash into their minds and then they eat a pint of chocolate ice cream?

Yeah.  It's called masturbation.  And apparently most of you love to do it.  And your primary impetus for doing it this summer has been from reading Fifty Shades of Grey.

BLAM! BLAM! BLAM! Oh, Vic!  Oh, Ben & Jerry.  I can hear all of you saying on some random Tuesday afternoon.

But because all of you are reading that piece of shit excuse for whacking material, your library has had to buy lots and lots of copies of that piece of shit piece-of-shit.

And the more copies of that piece of shit libraries buy, the less money we have to buy actual good stuff that might enrich your lives instead of giving you that primary inspiration to go and rub one out. When you should be taking your kid to soccer practice.

You might not know this, but books cost money.  And when all you assholes put reserves on for this piece of shit Fifty Shades of Grey, then libraries need to buy more copies for satisfy the holds. And your perverted needs.

So if your library is like mine, you probably spent about $3,000 on this bullshit.  So that's $3,000 less you have to buy glue sticks for your Children's programs.  So now that bunny craft you prepared for the kids has become a take-home craft where you just paper-clipped two ears to a paper plate and shoved it into the hands of a confused and disappointed 2-year-old.

WHAT THE FUCK? That kid just suddenly learned to say, out of thin air.

You just taught that kid to curse!  Are you proud of yourselves?

So do us all a favor, do all libraries a favor, and just masturbate to internet porn.  Or Kelly Ripa. Because that's what I do.  The porn, I mean.  I have a job, so I'm not home to watch Kelly, as hot as she is.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Libraries suck at search because books are easy to find.

I keep reading about how libraries have crappy search tools for their catalogs and databases.  And that Google has the best search.  So we need to be more like Google.

What people forget is that with most searches where you find what you want, Google also gives you about 3,000,000 results with shit you don't want.

And Google does what it does because of all the assholes in the world.  Google needs to continually update its algorithms to keep scumbags from jumping to the top of the search results listings.

But those scumbags don't exist in the library.  Mostly.

Take a call number, any call number, and try to find that book in a library.  Unless the book is missing or checked out, it will be exactly where it belongs.  I'm not talking about misshelved books.  All it takes in Dewey is four little numbers to find most library books.

Books don't jockey for better position in the library.
Books don't pretend to be other books.
Books don't change their content without notice.
Books don't make you open other books just so you can read the first book.
Books don't tell other books which books you read.
Books don't magically pop into your hands without your picking them up.
Books don't fuck with other books.

It's the internet that does all that.

So the tools the library uses to locate materials doesn't need to evolve.  That's like saying a teaspoon needs LEDs so you can eat cereal at night.

The real problem is that people don't want to learn to use the library.  Nothing else requires them to learn a damn thing, so why should we. But if you would spend ten minutes, just ten fucking minutes, learning how the library works, that knowledge would would be useful for a lifetime.  Because our shit doesn't change!  811 is always somewhere in between 810 and 812.  It's simple.  But you can't be bothered to learn it.  So you blame the library for being archaic.

Google also has the ability to index all the online stuff because everyone wants it indexed.  Everyone throws their stuff at Google and says, Index Me!

Books don't do that.  But books should.

For the last 10 or 20 years, all publishing has been electronic.  The author either works that way or some assistant digitizes the manuscript so it can be edited and formatted.  So publishers have all this digital stuff that they could use to build an index from their titles.  And then they could make those indices available to book sellers and libraries.  So if you wanted a cherry pie recipe, the local bookseller could just consult the publisher's index to find which books had one and sell them to you.  And libraries could do the same thing.

And then libraries could build their own search tools to sort through all these indices to help patrons find the right books, too.

But publishers don't do this.  Maybe it's too much work, but I doubt it.  The end result would be more books sold if people could find what they want.  Unless the end result would be fewer books because people would see how little of what they wanted was actually published.

So we'll have to rely on Google to do all this indexing.  Some day.

But don't keep trying to compare the library catalog to Google.  It would be great if there were a huge keyword and subject / context database for all the published books, but publishers don't seem to understand why this is necessary.

So libraries don't need Google-like solutions.  Unless Google has that index. 

But one magical day someone might.  And then libraries can fold their holdings into it and make searching for infinitesimal facts within books easier.

But don't say we suck at search when all my library's books are exactly where we put them.  Which is a problem because we'd really rather have them checked out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

If You Give Your Boss a Blow Job.

If you give your boss a blow job, he's going to want anal.

When you give him have anal, he's going to promote you to his personal assistant, but he's also going to want to take you to an orgy.

Everyone will be at the orgy and there will be booze and drugs and it's going to be impossible to say no to anyone.  And after, you'll get a tattoo of the number "34" because, well, you'll know why.

At the orgy, your boss will want to take video so he can show off to his friends.

If you let him shoot the video, his wife is going to find it.

When his wife finds out what you've been doing, she's going to make him fire you.

You'll lose your job and his wife will make it worse by posting the video on the Internet.

When a television producer sees the video, she's going to offer you your own reality show. Most people who watch your reality show will know how you got famous, but some won't care because you're famous and that's all that matters.

You'll have a hit show on TV which will make you a national celebrity.  You'll marry someone almost as famous as you, but it won't last long. Because fame is like money: you want it all for yourself.

When you're really famous, you'll run for public office.

When you win by a landslide, you'll run for a bigger and more important position.

When the Presidential candidate sees how many votes you get, he'll ask you to be his running mate.

After you win the election, he'll want to relax in the Oval Office behind his new oak desk.

And when he's behind that desk, the leader of the free world and the representative of the most powerful country on earth, and also your boss, he's going to want a blow job.

-- this is a parody of a popular children's book. parody is protected free-speech, so don't try to sue me. anyone is free to illustrate and publish this, but if you begin to make money with it, I expect a cut.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What They Shoulda Done: The Artist.

Spoiler alert.

Now, I don't know if this would have made a better movie, but they shoulda made George's silent world overlap or interact more with Peppy's talkie world.  Did you ever see Pleasantville?  Where the black and white world becomes "infected" with color? That's sort of what I wanted to see in The Artist.

Like when George is trapped in the burning house, it would have been interesting if he called for help, but no one could hear him.  But yet, when the dog left the house, we heard street sounds and heard the interaction with the cop when the dog barked at him.

And then, when George is saved and brought to the hospital, still unconscious, the doctors would not be able to hear his heartbeat; they could find a pulse, but no heartbeat could be heard through a stethoscope. 

And as the doctors were about to rush George into surgery, Peppy appears to prove George is alive and well by listening to his chest and making his heart display a "Thump, thump. Thump, thump." intertitle card on the screen.  Then Peppy pulls the card from the screen and shows it to the doctors to prove that George's heart is beating.

But seems like most of you like the movie the way it is, so I guess there's no need for change.  But that's what they shoulda done.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

SELLING library books.

I don't drink wine.  So if I had to buy a bottle, I wouldn't know what to buy.  I also don't drink hard booze all that much.  Give me almost any 100% agave tequila and a can of frozen limeade and I'm happy.  FYI, about 1.5 oz tequila with 3-4 tablespoons of frozen limeade mixed with cold water tastes great, and a couple of those gets me hammered.

So when I need to buy unfamiliar booze, I look for those reviews that the liquor store attaches to the price label in front of the bottles.  There's usually this tiny review from some source that sounds like Wine Enthusiast or Wino Cabal or something, that gives the bottle a score of some number close to 100.

So the liquor shelf might have a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (my wine of choice if I have to have wine) with a tiny slip of paper review that says,
"Rating 91. Crisp, fruity, hint of apricot, peach, banana, walrus. Excellent with fish, tacos, but not fish tacos."

And is makes me wonder why libraries never do this?  No, not sell booze, but attach reviews to the library books.

Yes, I realize that the books move.  They change locations almost every day. Except for the Scottish Poetry section. So there really isn't a permanent shelf where we can stick the review.  But we could have a display.  Or maybe get removable labels and stick them on the book spine.  And yeah, each spine is a different width, so the label would need to be smallish.

I don't know about you, but I often pick up a book from the shelf and ask, "Why the hell did we buy this?"  And not just to myself.  I ask staff.  I ask patrons.  I run into the street to stop traffic like Kevin McCarthy in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

So it would be cool if we took that original review that convinced us to make the purchase and stuck it to that book, now collecting dust, to show everyone that we had a good reason for getting it. And that they should read it. 

And as with DVD cases, those reviews might convince someone to borrow that book. 
  • "3 and 1/2 Stars" is a good enough reason to try something new. (And don't forget to add the images of the stars.)
  • "Booklist says, Recommended for all public libraries" could also work. 
  • and "Publisher's Weekly says, Read this Motherfucker already!" is going to make me want to punch the asshole in the face who tries to get that book before me.

So, what about it?  Is this another of my awesome ideas, or what?  Oh, fuck, nobody even read this.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Library. Teaching your community how to dance.

Stand up, those of you who think that your public library should lend the Fifty Shades of Grey series of books.

Of that group, remain standing if you work in a library and are in a position to decide which books get selected for your library.

Now, for those not standing, shut the fuck up because you don't know how a library works.


Libraries have MISSIONS.  Often these missions are tied to actual policy that has been drafted by librarians, cleared by lawyers and approved by local commissions.


The collection policy exists to keep the library within guidelines so that some asshole doesn't come along and fill the library with shit.

A typical collection policy says things like, "the library supports the educational and information needs of its community."  And from that, the library will collect and circulate educational and informational materials.

Ah, the asshole says, I need the information in Fifty Shades of Grey.

As I said earlier, shut the fuck up.

The policy may also state that materials need to fit certain criteria.  Because as the asshole just reminded us, pretty much anything can fill an information need. 

So libraries often include a need for the material to have been given a positive review in a standard professional library publication.

And I don't think your Fifty Shades of Grey has filled that requirement.  Yes, continue shutting the fuck up.

But some libraries allow their communities to suggest materials.  And often, and against their better judgment, libraries will purchase materials based on demand or based on bestseller lists.

Now, I haven't seen Footloose.  In any form.  I can't watch any movie where Kevin Bacon isn't a serial killer or where John Lithgow isn't a spaceman.  But I've heard the song and I know I could fly if only I'd just cut loose.  Footloose. God help me, I've heard the song.

But from I think happens, we have a community who decides it's wrong for kids to dance.  And have premarital boning.  But let's stick to the no dancing for now.

You can argue that John Lithgow forced the people, using his spaceman powers, to accept his no-dancing policy.  But that's beside the point, as the town set a community standard for no dancing.  It's like Oprah telling her followers what to read and then the library buying it.  Because Oprah's fans are crazy and will kill us if we don't.

So there was a community standard for no dancing.  But there used to be dancing.  But now there isn't.  Why?  Because community standards change.  Because communities are people and people change.

But libraries create policy to protect the community from itself.  For example, What if one political party came into power and all their members demanded that the library remove all books supporting the opposition's party?  Without a collection policy, the library might do that.

What if some crazy group moved into the neighborhood, meteor lovers, volcano worshippers, Lady Gaga fans, whatever, and wanted the library to carry all the materials that they think we should have?  Again, if there were enough of them, we might have to do it.

And this isn't just your money we're spending, it's everybody's money.  But it's partly your money. That's why you have a say in how we spend it.  But because you are so easily influenced, we often ignore you.

But librarians are not infallible.  We try to buy what we think is good for the library and often you disagree.  We have classic and foreign films on DVD that won't get checked out nearly as often as any Faster & Furiouser movie.

Remember, libraries are not book stores.  We shouldn't care what's hot right now.  We should only care about what's been hot for a while so that buying it will serve a need that will last longer than a couple of months.  Because we're not trying to sell anything.  We're trying to buy materials that will serve the most people for the longest time.

But we own calculators because most librarians didn't major in Math.  And a simple calculation says that if we buy the Piece-O-Shit for $20 and 100 people borrow it in one year but never borrow it ever again after, then that's as good as buying the Great-Classic for $20 that only gets checked out five times a year, but every year for 20 years.  Piece-O-Shit vs. Great Classic, it's a constant battle.

Librarians don't like to buy things that have a short shelf life.  Unless they get used a lot.  So we buy tax guides and testing books that become obsolete in a few years.  And that is why some libraries will buy  Fifty Shades of Grey.  Because the people will borrow it 200 times.

But if a library doesn't buy a book, it's not CENSORSHIP.  We can't possibly buy every fucking book.  If that's your idea of censorship, then how fucking tired must be when you spot it everywhere.

I think libraries have a duty to say Fuck You.  If you demand something that gets rejected and you demand it again so it gets rejected again, that doesn't make you Kevin Fucking Bacon trying to change the library's no-dance policy.  That just makes you another John Lithgow attempting to force your will on the people.

Because the librarian is Kevin Bacon. 

The librarian is the one who looks at the community and researches the needs and finds the solutions.  And also looks great in tight blue jeans.

So if you want Fifty Shades of Grey but your library won't buy it, you can ask again nicely.  Find out what the policy is and whether getting 20 of your friends to ask for the same book will get it bought.

But if Kevin Bacon still says no, then shut the fuck up because he knows what he's doing.  And then ask for an interlibrary loan.  Because the library can get you pretty much anything through interlibrary loan. Even a Piece-O-Shit.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

the evolution of the ebook.

Books are slowing become computer games.  I keep hearing these futurists marveling at the infinite possibilities opening from the publishing of ebooks and gushing as if these improvements are something new.  But we know they are not. 

Computers games have done everything that ebooks are doing now.  The ereader is just a much more portable computer and the ebook is still just a story whether it's mostly words, or not.
  • What if your book had moving or scrolling text? Computer games already did it.
  • What if your book played music composed specifically for the current chapter of the story? Computer games already did it.
  • What if your book included moving images, videos, changing backgrounds, mood lighting? Computer games already did it.
  • What if there were no words at all, but sweeping musical scores, scenes performed by actors and explosions? Jerry Bruckheimer already did it..
eBooks are evolving to include music and video.

And one day your book will just be a movie, but you'll still tell everyone you're reading.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

eBooks: How Libraries Got It Wrong

I just saw this:

"The staff at the Douglas County Libraries in Colorado have been implementing for the past year an innovative ebook lending model that gives the library actual ownership of the ebook file, rather than leasing access to it via a third party. The library has its own content server and after striking deals with various publishers it loads the files onto the server and applies the requisite DRM before lending."

And the word that should be kicking you in the ass right now is innovative.

This lending model should never have been view as innovative; this should have been the model since the beginning.  Libraries should only have ever managed their own e-content on their own servers and distributed only the books from publishers willing to accept how we do things.

The fact that this is considered new, means libraries fucked up.

We should have started with this model even if it meant that we would NEVER have bestsellers for our patrons.  Because this model is like our print lending model: we own the materials.

But it's not too late for some of you.  And maybe not most of you.  There still might be money for you to begin a project like this where you host your own content.  And then you can reduce your budget for all that leased crap from the Big 6 that you don't own and can't control until a few years down the road, you'll have a good ebook lending model.  And this should be your goal.

Because what libraries are doing now, chasing bestsellers, and begging publishers to play fair, is just fucked up and makes us look like punks, pussies, wimps -- pick your least or most offensive moniker.   Because I'm just trying to get your attention.

And librarians have too much money and knowledge and talent and innovation to not be finding new solutions to this problem.  And I'm glad Douglas County is sharing theirs.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Libraries: Crowdfunding our asses off.

Somebody always wants libraries to be different and they often try to scare us into changing what we do: "Libraries had no competition for most of our history. "

WE STILL HAVE NO COMPETITION.  Name one other source that takes a little bit of money from lots of people to offer a service like we do.  Parks? No.  I haven't been able to take a tree home for a month and then return it.  You can probably check out a basketball for an hour, but you can't take it to bed with you.  Or maybe you can, but I don't know what that's called.

Public Libraries are such a unique idea, that BUSINESSES ARE CONTINUALLY TRYING TO COPY US.  But for much more money than libraries collect.  Your cable company want $100 a month and so does your phone company.  Your streaming video company want $8 to $15 a month.  And the only advantage they have over libraries is a better delivery system.

But libraries provide crowdfunded wireless internet access.  And crowdfunded movies and music and reading. And so long as you are within our wireless distribution range, you get all that pretty damn fast.

We also offer free delivery with no minimum order.  You can get 1 or 50 items shipped throughout our lending area and delivered to locations near you.

The only way I see that libraries have competition is for your free time.  And in that way, yes, libraries are in trouble.  Because you are all lazy bastards.  You're willing to pay to have everything sent to you which is something libraries can't do.  Not for what you pay us, anyway.  Sure, we could make it easier, one-clickier, to get content to your phone or tablet while you eat your lunch while you're on the toilet.  Because you're so busy.  Not working.  From where do you get your money, anyway?

You don't have to believe me, but one day you will live in a world of panem et circenses and you will be happy.  Your phone will link to your Facebook account and for every poll or game you forward to a friend or everything you like or tag, or each new piece of private information you update will earn Facebook credits and that will be your job.  Because Facebook needs you now, more than ever, in order to keep their stock from slipping down the crapper.  And then you'll use your Facebook credits with the Facebook partners like McDonald's or Netflix and that's how you will get food and good times.  And you won't need a traditional job any more.  Well, traditional jobs won't exist, anyway.

So stop scaring the librarians.  They're already scared enough.  With all the kids drinking the hand sanitizer, there's hardly enough left to kill all the germs.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Why Clifford Stoll is RIGHT about the internet

Clifford Stoll is a kook.  And I'm sure he'd be the first to admit it.  But he was right about the internet.

"No, he's wrong," you say,  "He even admitted he was wrong in a comment on BoingBoing."

No, I think he was being kind.  Like when someone really really stupid manages to accomplish some remedial task and we say, "Good.  Good, for you."  What he really tells us is here, the saddest part about how our lives have been influenced by the internet, "important aspects of human interactions are relentlessly devalued."

You can laugh at his naivete, but you can't deny that the internet has devalued our interactions.  And I'm assuming that you've ever "Like"d  something or tweeted your feelings in 140 characters.

But technologically, Stoll was way, way off.  Everything Stoll claimed computers couldn't be, computers have become. They are small; they are fast; they store more data and perform more complex and esoteric functions than he could have conceived.

In 1995, Stoll wrote that
  • no online database will replace your daily newspaper,
  • no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and
  • no computer network will change the way government works.
source: Newsweek

And he was wrong on all 3 counts.

But that's only because technology gives the appearance of his wrongness: replacement never truly happened .  Ask any librarian if online databases are easier to use than newspapers and you won't get a clear consensus. And teachers use technology to teach, but the teacher is still essential to the learning process.  And government is tied to computers in ways we could never understand, but government progress still moves at the traditional bureaucratic glacial pace.

I think how Stoll could see what we can't is based on his perspective on the evolution of the internet.  He is someone old enough to see it from outside.  He could compare it to a different world and didn't like what he saw.  But fewer of us know his world.  We've been deep in the internet for almost 20 years.  For many, the internet can't be removed from real life. But someone his age would have seen the doorways and windows to the internet from outside, whereas most of us have never stood in his place.

Stoll predicted wrongly because he underestimated people and how people actually wanted all that "unfiltered data."  People became the filter.  Wikipedia is one result.  

I like to use the movie The Matrix to think about how we view the internet.  Neo was born into the matrix and didn't know there was something outside of it. And when he learned, it changed him.  But Cypher knew that the matrix wasn't real, and he didn't care.  To him, the real world sucked.

And in our world, computers have replaced human interaction.  Virtual people have replaced people.

And this is absolutely where Stoll predicted correctly.  He concluded in his Newsweek article, "What's missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact."  He could never have imagined that in the 10 years following those words that we have successfully replaced physical contact with emotional contact and that emotional contact would be derived from tweets and pokes and updates and texts.

Those people Stoll spoke to in 1995 are dead.  If I had the time, I might argue that they died in 2001 when the people of the world decided they were too afraid to go outside.  And I don't I'd be wrong.  One day, some other weirdo will prove that 9/11 influenced the iPhone.

Apart from technology, mobile devices, wifi, broadband internet and HD video, everything Stoll said is true:
  •  "Cybershopping" is dangerous. That hasn't changed. Probably never will.
  • We continue to buy more and more "expensive toys"while convincing ourselves they will change our lives.
  • And sifting through data on the Internet is still difficult just as it was 2 years before Google.

All true. But also untrue.  The internet has changed us.  We are all willing to do things online in 2012 that not one of you would have imagined you would do in 1992 (the first year I went online).  Simply, you play computer games.  You play games with people you've never seen or met.  The movie WarGames was from 1983 and even 10 years later, computer games were still only for nerds.  Now you find attractive people tapping away at games on their phones, beautiful people, people who should be fucking each other!  What happened to us?

We have been changed by the internet.  You laugh at Stoll, but you are not the same species.  He is analog and you are digital.

So where is this leading? There is discussion today about whether the internet has anything new left to offer.  As if innovation has stagnated behind the Apple-Amazon-Google-Facebook turf wars.  These companies seem to want to keep their users locked into proprietary domains.  From where will innovation come when these innovators won't share?

But maybe that's where the next generation of innovation will happen -- in breaking down those walls.

Yet for his goofs, Stoll gave me one of the wisest pieces of wisdom, ever.  On one television program, he espoused having two computers, one for online and one that never touches an outside network. Because that was the only way to guarantee that your data would be safe. One day, you'll wish you'd listened to him.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


At the start of Season 7 ("Meet the New Boss") in the television show Supernatural when Castiel releases all of the souls back into Purgatory, what they shoulda done is make Castiel also damage the flow of time itself.

So that for part of the season, these distortions in time catch Sam and Dean and they could time-travel and fight Nazis and dinosaurs and just have fun with the episodes. 

And on one episode, they could end up on the bridge of the USS Enterprise. 

And DEAN would say, "Oh, Sam, I think this is the ..."

SAM: Don't say it.


DEAN: No.  This IS ...

SAM:  Don't say it.  This cannot be the [gestures to everything].  Because that's not real.  That's just a TV show; it's not real.  So if we were there, then that would mean that we weren't real, that we're a TV show.  And that's not true because we're real.


And the usual sexual double entendres follow. 

That episode would have been a blast.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Nude Model's Library

Surprise, I look at online porn.  But it's for research.

And, as if you didn't know, there are naked ladies on the internet.  As you yourself might be a naked lady on the internet.  I'd like to think so.

But sometimes, when I'm not looking at naked ladies, for research, I look around the naked ladies for books.  There are many naked lady photos online where they pose with or near collections of books.  And I often wonder how this collection was acquired, whether by random used bookstore bargain bins or if this is an actual collection from some personal library.  In many photos, the book tittles, ... oh, look, I accidentally wrote "tittles" instead of titles.  Silly me.  Many of the book titles are in Russian or German or some other language I don't really need for my research, so I don't pay too much attention.  But then there are books in English and I take notice.  I don't have any research on what the Nude Gentlemen are reading. 

IN THIS ONE PHOTO which I won't post (okay, I will) , I can read some titles clearly:

Connelly, Michael. Brass Verdict, The
Coonts, Stephen. Disciple, The
Douglas, John. Anatomy of Motive, The
Flynn, Vince. [can't read title]
Green, Simon R. Daemons Are Forever
Green, Simon R. Unnatural
Lansdale, Joe R. Captains Outrageous
Marshall, Micheal. Intruders, The
McGarrity, Micheal. Death Song
Morrison, Helen. My Life Among the Serial Killers
Neuro-linguistic Programming for DUMMIES
Parker, Robert B.  Pale Kings and Princes
Parker, Robert B. Back Story
Parker, Robert B. Chance
Parker, Robert B. Cold Service
Parker, Robert B. Hugger Mugger
Parker, Robert B. Hush Money
Patterson, James. Double Cross
Rosenberg, Joel C. Twelfth Imam, The
Thomas, Ross. Cold War Swap, The
Thomas, Ross. Money Harvest, The
Thor, Brad. Last Patriot, The

Do these book titles say anything about the nude model?  Are they meant to convey some meaning?  Am I looking at the entirely wrong area of the photo?

So my question is this, and this for research:
As a librarian, when you see images of naked people posing with books, do you look at the titles to see what the naked people are reading?

Is there a future in pursuing this area of library research?  Do you think I could earn a Ph.D.for recording and analyzing the books found in nudie and porn photos and videos?  Because I probably already have enough research for three.


Since the NBC television show 30 Rock is ending soon, it's too bad they never included this scene.  But this is what they shoulda done:

Tracy should have won a Nobel Prize so he could wear a chain with a pendant that says NEGROT (Nobel, Emmy, Grammy, Razzie, Oscar, Tony) and be proud while Liz is appalled.

LIZ: Do you see what that says, Tracy?

TRACY: Nobel. Emmy. Grammy. Razzie. Oscar. Tony.  N-E-G-R-O-T.  Damn.  The "T" is silent, isn't it,  Liz Lemon?  Damn.

LIZ: Yes, Tracy.

TRACY:  As I already had my other awards, it just shows that the Nobel Committee is racist.

Monday, April 23, 2012

When Netter and Anti-netter Meet: KABOOM!

A recent Pew Internet survey shows that 20% of Americans don't use the Internet.  The same survey also shows that 19% of American adults own tablet computers.  Twenty percent looks like a bigger number than nineteen percent.  But when did you last hear from a librarian about the importance of reaching out to their member anti-netters?

Yet many libraries will devote larger portions of their limited resources toward "engaging" with those mobile users while trimming the budgets for supporting the resources preferred by the non-internetters.

I guess it's like putting your parent in a retirement home.  At some point, you just have to tell dad he can't live alone anymore.  And he can't come live with you.  He's going to become someone else's problem from now on.

So we allow this caste system to continue.  In America. 

Yes, the problem is mainly from old people.  And in a generation, they'll all be dead and we'll have 99% of Americans online.

But some day, you'll also be old.  And then they'll be some new technology that you won't be able to afford or care about.  And you'll be part of some 20% that the librariandroid (yeah, isn't it awesome how everything sounds futuristic when you add "droid" or "bot" or "cyber" to it?  I wonder what the futuristic words will be in the future?) won't want to deal with when you can't get your 3rd-grade memories uploaded to Facebook and she complains, "Really? Again?"

Whenever a librarian sees that any area of their local population is under-served, she should ask, "How can I fix this?"  But that librariandroid is a total bitch, isn't she?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I understand that someone has probably already proposed this, but this is what they should have done on the HBO television show Game of Thrones:

When Daenerys Targaryen was given the wedding gift of the three dragon eggs, they should have been eggs from the movie Alien.

Then later, when Drogo was in his comatose state, she could have put the eggs with him, the witch (Mirri) and herself.  And as the eggs hatched to release the "facehuggers," they would attach to each of the three characters.

Then at the final scene of Season 1, the first two Alien would burst from Drogo and the witch's chests and crawl over to Daenerys just as her chest explodes.  And as her Alien creature emerges from her chest, she cries out, "It's a Queen.  I am The Queen!"

So the dragons in Game of Thrones would be Alien creatures and whichever army has them would be considered invincible.  But since we know that these creatures can't be controlled, the rest of the series would have been very short.  And a total bloodbath.

That's what they shoulda done.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I don't exist.

In the digital world, nothing has shape. nothing has permanence. Nothing has value.  Money changes hands, surely.  But money always changes hands.

How many digital files do you own? With how many have you interacted recently?  How many songs or photos sit on some drive somewhere collecting the digital equivalent of cobwebs, their electrons trying to maintain order, to maintain bonds and fighting against inevitable dispersal.  Would you notice if some were lost?

In every generation prior whatever the most recent two are, people collected objects.  Some were photos.  They held those photos as precious.  They were memory; they were family; they were part of their lives.

Some of those objects were books.

But now we have files.  And I don't know anyone who prints out photos, anymore.  I haven't for 6 years.  Without some form of computer, the last six years of my life don't even exist.

Yes, all my files are on a computer or online, somewhere.  But without permission, a password, most of them remain hidden.  I try to store some of my stuff under "effinglibrarian" accounts, but I have lots of accounts under various usernames.  If I were to bump my head and develop amnesia or die, would anyone ever learn who I was?  I don't have scrapbooks with photos of my trips to ... see? I can't even rememeber without finding the folders with the files.

Without account names and passwords, there is nothing to find.  I will disappear. 

Physical objects are a burden. Books are a burden.  And we only have towns and cities because of our burdens.  In the old days, people walked until they got tired, then when enough people got tired in the same place, someone put up a shop or a shrine.  And that's why we have cities.  Without your burdens, you just wander as nomads.  The internet is turning us into nomads.

A printed book never judges you back.  It's static; it can't.  But an ebook can, and will.  An ebook will tell you whether you read too slowly or too quickly.  An ebook might make you reread something until it's convinced you got it.  An ebook will compare you to others who have read it.  If you need to look up a word, the dictionary will tell you that only 4% of other readers needed to look that up: What the fuck is wrong with you?

Every footprint you leave online is something said for or against your nature.  Every statement, update or comment you make can become corrupted under the unforgiving all-seeing eye of internet trolls and anonymous ridicule.

The internet is changing me.  And I don't know who I am becoming.  Because I don't have physical objects, I don't have a past.  Because I have so many online identities, I don't have a present.  And because I don't have anyone to care for my files after I'm gone, I don't have a future.  I am nothing.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Unlimited, but not "Unlimited" Unlimited.

From the, "Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should" department.

In the library, product licenses are time-based, or licenses are use-based, or both. And sometimes licenses start out time-based, but as use increases, the publishers add use-based limitations.  I'm not going to call them greedy bastards.

But let's assume you're a greedy bastard. If you own something, even an intellectual something, *especially* an intellectual something, you're likely to want to be paid for its use, every single time.

Artists, writers, musicians, computer programmers, all want to be paid each time their works are viewed, read, heard or accessed. Which is the way it ought to be, I guess. If you were a greedy bastard.

But others don't get paid over and over again for the same labor. Teacher don't demand a cut of your salary for teaching you useful information. Chefs don't demand payment when their nutritious meals get you through a productive day.  A hooker won't take that bonus you scored because you were so relaxed when you cut that deal.

Intellectual property is different from commodities in that the value of intangible property can't be established by normal means, while consumable goods can have a fair market value. Eggs are a dollar a dozen while watching Titanic can have a value of $8 or $50,000, depending on whether viewing it was done legally or as an infringement on the owner's rights.

This is the same for services. Unlimited access to something is NEVER meant to alter your behavior. Unlimited means that you are allowed "the usual amount" for the average person.  But no company calls their service The Usual Amount. These same rules apply to all-you-can-eat buffets.  So no filling your plastic bags with shrimp.

That's why some Internet users get pissed when they hit a wall in their data usage. Because they interpreted "unlimited" to mean they can hook their device to every computer and TV in the house and suck bandwidth like... a thing... that sucks... a lot.

I don't know if you remember what it was like before the internet, but THERE WAS CIVILIZATION back then and I lived through it. There was a time when there was no "cloud" storage and library magazine and newspaper databases ran from CDs that you got in the mail. When a library patron wanted to find a newspaper article, you'd load a CD on a computer and search for it. If the patron wanted another article, you'd load another CD. And if you had the money, you'd buy a stack of CDs drives and run the service from the "tower."

And it was a cumbersome load of fuck.

And way back then I wanted to take all the data from all those CDs and copy it to a server and find an interface and host it all on our website. I didn't know if it could be done, but I was willing to give a try.

But I knew that doing so would be a violation of our license. Even back then, without the benefit of the internet, I knew some stuff. So I never did it.

Even now, I look at some of the content we supposedly own, and want to rip it all and keep it because we've paid for it, but I know that our licenses don't allow us to do that. "Stealing" is a word I've heard used.  So when I heard that there was a library that was attempting this "sharing," I thought, good luck with that.  Because I knew that the data provider wouldn't see it as sharing at all.

Libraries, and everyone, have to learn that if it ain't a cookie or a sandwich or a puppy, you won't own it.  You don't own your electronic databases, ebooks, television programs stored on your DVR, streamed music, etc. If it moves over a network as a digital signal, it ain't yours.  

I'm sure there's more I can say about this, but I'm afraid I've depressed you enough already.  But if it helps, the one piece of advice I can offer is this: if you want to understand how a system works, steal something from it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Facebook is the reason you don't have a job.

I've blamed Facebook for the Decline of the American Empire before, but I have an entirely new reason today.

American companies are not hiring because you have too much free time. When companies look at all the time their workers are spending on Facebook, the clearest picture they see is that their employees don't have enough to do. And if the current American workforce can afford to spend hours a day on Facebook, then why should any company create more jobs?

And don't go telling me that Facebook is great because your mom uses it and she's retired, so how could the economy be screwed up because of all the retired people who use it?

Fuck you. 700 million people are using Facebook, so yes, your mom story is a great example to refute my theory. 699,999,999 other people don't matter. Facebook isn't valued at $50 billion because your mom uses it.

If you don't believe me, look at the fucking chart:

Those things don't lie.

But ever since THE INTERNET became a thing, companies have been able to see a much clearer picture of the habits of Americans and it turns out that we don't slave away at making more and more money for our billionaire masters as they think we should.

After all, so few Americans farm their own food. And slightly more than that a few grow weed or cook crank or whatever those magicians do to make illegal drugs. So the rest of us are lucky that anyone is willing to give us any money at all for the little work that we do.

I mean, ask Apple why they took their manufacturing to China and the answer would be "an unlimited supply of cheap labor who will work any time we say, for as long as we require and never takes time off to take their cat to the vet."

Before computers started talking to each other, your boss could only guess at how much time you were wasting while she was providing you with the means to support a home and a family, two cats and a dog.

But now the cat is out of the bag.

Because you had two cats. And you tried to sell one to the butcher by disguising it as a pig. But the butcher knows to never buy a pig in a poke. So he let the cat out of the bag and exposed your fraud.

Let me get off topic for a second because Snopes claims that this explanation is False, simply because the author doesn't believe that anyone would mistake a cat in a sack for a pig. But yet, the author accepts the "pig in a poke" phrase for exactly the same reason, that some unscrupulous merchants would sometimes substitute another animal when you purchased livestock, so you should always look at what you're buying before you conclude your transaction. The author accepts this origin, but doesn't think that what was in the poke/sack/bag would ever be a cat. Definitely not a cute, fluffy little cat. So let me restate, But now the squid is out of the bag.

There is no job that you can have that your boss can't find someone else to do it: better, as well, nearly as well, or with a minimum level of competence, FOR LESS MONEY THAN YOU.

Even in the library, I could FIRE EVERYONE and still provide library services well enough that most of your customers wouldn't care. Volunteers would line up to have SOMETHING TO DO to fill their otherwise wasted time. And some of those people would be very qualified to fill library positions. EVEN FOR NO MONEY. BECAUSE THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE RULE OF BUILDING A WORKFORCE: if you can fill their most basic needs, there will always be someone to take the job.

I absolutely believe that Americans are about one step away from rounding up people to do a job then killing them before payday. Again. Because we've done this in the past.

 I'm always surprised by people who think that since we learned to be civilized, to have civilized society, that it's here to stay. Like you get it and it's with you forever. Like herpes. When civilization is more like genital warts. Civilization will often spontaneously rise up within cultures, but it can be beaten back with a proper applications of ointments. And gunfire.

So Facebookians, stop fucking up this country. Every computer knows every minute you waste and they share that information with each other. Every day you spend screwing around online is another minimum-wage job-that-will-never-be. Each wasted month equals one blue-collar job. And every three months equals one white-collar job that doesn't get budgeted over to HR.

 If you really need to kill time, read a book. But not an ebook because they spy on you there, too.