Some reflections

Note: I wrote this post last weekend, but have not posted it until today. This was written primarily to get some thoughts out on paper, and not a detailed overview of recent events, nor it was intended to be as such.

Also, the last time I checked the settings, comments are moderated on the blog. They will probably not show up to the public until the evening, when I’m back home from work. I can’t seem to train the cats to do comment moderation for me. Good-for-nothing, freeloading cats…


Here I am, sitting at my computer, processing what happened in the last couple of days. The following is part “going through what happened”, and part me thinking out loud.

How did I get here?

A few weeks ago, Bess Sadler posted on the code4lib listserv with a request that code4lib adopt an anti-harassment policy similar to those that were being adopted by other technology conferences. The initial post prompted many +1s and the anti-harassment policy began to take shape in github.

Then the conversation continued, and after a survey and more discussion, the suggestion for a code4libwomen showed up… and then more discussion. Technically, since code4lib is not a formal organization, anyone could do something in the name of the group, whether there is group consensus or not. However, since we are librarians, and librarians like going through approval processes, sometimes people ask. And when you ask for opinions on the Internet, you’ll get them. On occasion, you might even get one of mine, which is the case in the code4libwomen discussion.

My opinion? A code4libwomen group wouldn’t be effective.

Why? Twofold:

  1. While a separate group might be conducive to more women actively participating in that group, if there are no mechanisms to bring that participation to the larger group, then, effectively, the smaller group has segregated itself from the rest of the organization.

Point 1 is more of a procedural issue with the code4libwomen idea that could be addressed with a lot of organizational policies, prompts, and mechanisms that would have to be built into the group.[1]  Point 2, however, happens to be the bigger reason why I found myself not married to the idea:

  1. It doesn’t go far enough.

So, let’s say a code4libwomen group does form, and it functions well. Great, but that group only covers a subsection of the population of women in library technology. What about LITA? ASIST? State library associations? And what about those who don’t feel that they don’t belong in either LITA or code4lib? That’s a big group of people who wouldn’t benefit from such a group if that group was tied to an organization that they are not a part of. If we get all the other organizations creating their own groups, then we end up with a hodge-podge of subgroups with varying effectiveness and few chances of collaboration between other organizations. Again, this also leaves out folks who don’t identify with any organization.

And, after Lisa Rabey and I ended up in an IRC channel for further discussion on related ideas, #libtechwomen was born.

What do I think #libtechwomen should be? Here’s what I have so far:

  • A place for women to get training, advice, and encouragement in a neutral environment that is not tied to a single organization, so we can include all types from the library technology field: coders, network admins, sysadmins, tech managers, and those who want to learn about any of the above.
  • A group that want to advocate for women in library technology. That group is made up of anyone that wants to help – everyone on the gender spectrum – and can partner with various organizations when opportunities arise.

The biggest part for me about my hopes for #libtechwomen is this – that the people who benefit from the group go out and contribute to the greater library technology community. I plan to kidnap people from this group to various code4lib events, because code4lib for me has been a place where I could grow in my skills as well as meet folks who are dedicated to what they do. I know that there will be others in #libtechwomen that will lend a hand to those who want someone to help them navigate an organization such as LITA, code4lib, EDUCAUSE, state library organizations, and so on. The biggest potential benefit from this group is overall growth in participation in library technology by women and transgendered women. If we find ourselves with a majority folks in #libtechwomen that never leave the confines of the group, then the group finds itself in the situation that I hoped to avoid in the first place – yet another silo in the sea of siloes in the library community.

Perhaps I’m being too optimistic about this. I haven’t been on the receiving end of any blatant harassment in the library technology community, but I have heard stories of others that have encountered it. Some folks might say that I’m not going far enough with my thoughts on #libtechwomen, and I’m not sure if I’ll be comfortable with some of the directions that people will want to take #libtechwomen. That’s something that I have to deal with, like in any other area of my work life.

Also, #libtechwomen does not directly deal with other groups that are in a similar situation that women and transgendered women. I realize that even though I can be an ally, I need to let others take the lead for those folks who decide to tackle those issues for their respective groups. Then again, there’s starting to be discussion about the name of the group, and if the name – along with the focus – should change to something more inclusive to other underrepresented groups in technology. If that discussion comes to fruition and the name does change, I’d support the change.

So, here I am, sitting at my computer, processing the events of the last few days. It might be a while before I’m able to process everything.

 


[1] Formal organization and code4lib has had a mixed past. For example, post that code4lib should become a formal organization (501(c)). Make some popcorn and grab a soda. Get comfortable in your chair and watch the conversation unfold.

A year of troublesome catalogers and magical metadata fairies

first_post_cataloger

This month marks the one year anniversary of the twitter list of catalog and metadata librarians, yo_bj/magical-metadata-fairies (formerly Troublesome Catalogers). It’s been quite a ride… which calls for some naval gazing.

The list was started in October of 2009 when Twitter turned on the Lists function for my profile. I was keeping track of a small list of catalogers that I created on Tweetdeck, so I had something to work off of. A few #followalibrarian self promotion tweets later, the list gained popularity. There was even a blog posting! Even though I first started the list to keep track of catalogers, the list’s purpose has changed in the past year.

Throughout the year, I have a wide range of activity on the list. There have plenty of bitch sessions about bibliographic utility software, standards, rules, and the latest publication/post that reinforces the cataloger stereotype. That is to be expected, and one of the purposes of the list is to bring like-minded folks together, so, for many people, it’s good to rant about something very specific to an audience who gets what you’re ranting about. I have seen many more instances of catalogers helping each other out with cataloging questions and requests. I’ll admit that I smile every time I see a conversation thread resulting from a cataloging question; I’d like to see the list become a gathering place on Twitter for catalogers to ask questions, converse, and share resources. It’s already doing some of that now, but I know that there are more catalogers and metadata folks out there that haven’t been found or haven’t found the list yet.

When I search for potential list fodder, I find myself searching for the following terms through Twitter:

  • Cataloging (and Cataloguing)
  • Cataloger (and Cataloguer)
  • Metadata
  • AACR2 (RDA is less unique, therefore grabbing hits about dietary standards and gossip about a certain actor with the same initials)

“Cataloger” usually gets the most focused results, while the “metadata” results have a lot of noise from product/company/industry tweets. “Cataloging,” however, brings out the most interesting results. Not only I catch catalogers with this, I also catch non-catalogers (and not companies) tweeting about cataloging. I see a wave of cataloging tweets from library students every fall and spring, ranging from hate to love of the joys of cataloging. There are many other people tweeting about cataloging, but in a personal context. I’ve seen people catalog vinyl records, photographs, comic books, DVDs, CDs, yarn, action figures, clothes, jokes, pick up lines, friends, relationships, and life goals. The results show a glimpse of the need for humans to organize things, to give things their place in the person’s world.

But enough of the navel gazing – now for the fun facts about the list:

Followers (as of blog posting): 74
Following (as of blog posting): 155
Some of the countries represented:

  • Australia
  • Belgium
  • Canada
  • France
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Slovenia
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States (majority)

Who are these troublesome catalogers/magical metadata fairies?

  • Artists
  • Army spouses
  • Burlesque performers
  • Comic book geeks
  • Conservatives
  • Cooks (or is that Cookery?)
  • Crafters
  • Cyclists
  • Dancers
  • Gamers
  • Hackers
  • Knitters
  • Liberals
  • Musicians
  • Parents
  • Pet lovers
  • Reporters
  • Sports fanatics
  • Students
  • Teachers
  • Writers

…. And those are just off the top of my head!

Happy anniversary, troublesome catalogers and magical metadata fairies. May you have many more years of wand-waving and Hell-raising.

Alternative Facebook Warning Messages

As of  this afternoon, illness has kept me up for 38 hours straight. I think I’m on my seventh wind now, so I bring to you the Alternative Facebook Warning Messages (that I’ve run across on FB or Twitter or other interweb goodness)!

The original one:

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically index all your info on Google, which allows everyone to view it. To change this option, go to Settings –> Privacy Settings –> Search –> then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Allow indexing’. Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all your friends ASAP

The alternatives:

URGENT FACEBOOK UPDATE: As of today, Facebook staff will be allowed to eat your children and pets. To turn this option off, go to settings, then privacy, then meals. Click the top two boxes to prevent the employees of Facebook from eating your beloved children and pets. Copy this to your status to warn your friends!

ATTENTION: In case you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically start plunging the Earth into the Sun. To change this option, go to Settings: Planetary Settings: Trajectory: then UN-CLICK the box that says “Apocalypse.” Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see….

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically start replacing human beings with Cylons. To change this option, go to Settings –> Colonial Settings –> So Say We All, then CLICK the box that says ‘frak a toaster.’ Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see…

IMPORTANT! PLEASE READ: If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically fill the skies with bats and drop you into the depths of an ether binge. To change this option, go to Settings –> Las Vegas –> then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Fear and Loathing.’ Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see.

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook users will irrationally overreact about a change to the settings. Making it sound like Facebook is putting all your information out there for everyone to see, but in reality it’s only indexing already publicly available information. To freak out with everyone else, go to Setti…ngs –> Privacy Settings –> Search –> then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Allow indexing’.

FACEBOOK UPDATE: Starting today, Facebook will be sending out Stormtroopers to do a search for two stolen droids. To ensure they do not expose your properties, go to Settings -> Jedi Mind Tricks. Check off the box labeled “These are not the droids you are looking for.” Copy this to your status and warn your friends!

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically initiate the zombie apocalypse. To change this option, go to Settings –> Living Settings –> Dead/Undead –> then UN-CLICK the box that says “Turn me into a zombie.” Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see.

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically start setting your underpants on fire when you least expect it. To change this option, goto Settings –> Spontaneous Combustion Settings –>underpants, then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Underpants”.

If you don’t know, as of today, Facebook will automatically impregnate you, wether you are male or female To change this option, go to Settings –> parasite –> maybe cute, then UN-CLICK the box that says ’18 years of “FUN”.’ Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see.

If you’re currently building a Death Star and haven’t heard, as of today, Facebook will automatically allow an thermal exhaust port to remain open. To change this option, go to Settings > Death Star Settings > Thermal Exhaust Port then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Allow Destruction.’ Facebook kept this one quiet. Please re-tweet for all Imperial work crews.

WARNING! As of today facebook will automatically begin stealing old people from their homes, starting with celebrity old people. To change this option, go to Settings–>Old People Theft Settings and uncheck the boxes for “Steal old people” and “Steal Betty White”. Thank you…for being a friend.

As of January 1st, Facebook will change everybody’s current Doctor to Doctor Who Number 11, played by Matt Smith. If you do not want to this change, go to Settings –> Special Episodes –> Doctor Who then UN-CLICK the box that says ‘Allow Regenerations.’ Facebook kept this one quiet. Copy and paste onto your status for all to see.

And probably the most important one:

URGENT FACEBOOK UPDATE: Facebook has stolen your soul and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. No settings to change. Resistance is futile. Transmission end.

Sadly, I have not found a HPL themed message… yet…

New, shiny things @ your neighborhood university library

Today saw the launch of two major projects from Miami University:

New website! We finally got to move away from the university template (which didn’t allow room for much of anything) and this is the product that was years in the making. The site was build with drupal and right in the middle of the front page is MULtifacet, our home-grown next-gen OPAC. We just finished a two-phased usability study on MULtifacet and its former incarnation, Solrpac. Still in the analysis stage, but once the report is finished, I’ll let you all know.

New orientation video! While a vodcast isn’t anything new to MU, producing a vodcast in Mandarin Chinese is. This is part of the Libraries’ plan to accommodate the near 500% increase in international students coming to MU in the last five years, with the majority coming from China. We have plans to create other videos in other native languages of our international and ESL students.

New, shiny things are good! Especially before the students come back…