Imagine, if you will, that this blog post is an eloquent exploration of any of the following topics… because that’s exactly what this blog post would be if I had the time and concentration to write about all the thoughts that have been buzzing through my head over the last few weeks:
– the library obsession with patron confidentiality when patrons are giving away their personal information-seeking info to everyone under the sun… in fact, they apparently want to be tracked and pegged so that information-providers can make more recommendations, match them with more networks, and predict their next Christmast list. Is patron confidentiality old hat?
– wanting very much to have my own personal information-seeking info completely removed from the eyes and hands of all companies everywhere. Especially after seeing this show and having the MC tell us all where we stand in the socioeconomic scheme of things according to the credit cards we used to buy tickets.
– looking at all the “calls for participation” coming from 2007 conferences and wondering which ones to choose, what to present if I do, how many to aim for, and how do people get accepted to all these conferenes anyway?
– realizing this week (in a very “duh” way, not a lightbulb way) that despite my hope of researching emerging languages on the internet, it is actually impossible – that’s right, I said impossible – for any website to be free of English. It’s in the CODE! All the code! English! cellpadding, stylesheet, metaname, font family… that’s all in the code of just about any webpage you see and it’s all in English. I feel dumb for not thinking about it before and I feel like a jerk for being an English speaker. I’d rather have a comfortable distance from the gorilla language taking over everything. Be fluent, yes, but at least think in something else. Ugh. It’s disgusting. English is so corrosive.
– Thinking about classes for next semester and into next year. There’s a fellowship I could apply for that would cover a big chunk of tuition if I’m learning one of the 20 “minor” languages listed in the application. Some of my favorites in the list are Arabic, Korean, Hindi, and Portuguese. Arabic and Portuguese are also considered two of the fastest growing languages online, but I can’t find a true reliable source on that. Korean, on the other hand, is also growing strong in the technology sector. But what I really like about most of these languages is that they would require learning a whole new writing system. If you need to be humbled, pick up a book in a language you can’t read – as in, can’t even make out letters – and experience the feeling of illiteracy again. So many of us take our reading skills for granted. Learning a new language is a great way to get a culture shock when you can’t go anywhere. But I still need to choose one.
– CSS. I’m building web pages at both of my jobs. I tried to simply convert pieces of the old web pages (in really bad HTML) over to cleaned-up pages with a style sheet. To anyone out there considering this route… don’t do that to yourself. It’s too frustrating and time-consuming. I think you’re better off just starting from scratch. Nevertheless, this experience is also like learning a new language. I’m brand new to CSS, picking it up off of web sites and random snippets from O’Reilly books. I like it… but without full creative license, experimenting with it can be a real pain.
– last but not least … we’ve been talking about metadata standards in one of my library classes – MARC, FRBR, Dublin Core, you name it. And the ideal behind so many library initiatives like Library of Congress and OCLC – one-stop cataloging. A book gets cataloged once, perfectly, and then all other libraries can just copy that record. But I don’t really see libraries doing that. Have you looked in OCLC? Seen how many multiple copies there can be for the same item? I think libraries should leave the cataloging of the popular big-publisher-house items to Amazon and focus on all the grey literature out there. Millions and millions of pieces of info that aren’t recorded anywhere. Small non-profit newsletters, independent books, limited-circulation journals from developing countries, reports from NGOs… that’s where our attention should be. All those things that fall through the cracks. People don’t need our help finding Harry Potter. Anybody can find Harry Potter. They need our help finding that one CD produced by that struggling artist who plays the saxophone in a subway. Or the sculptor whose only commissions have been tucked away in the lobbies of high-rise office buildings and only the employees see them. In this age, we have to be a different kind of guardian. Where are the mavericks?