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TILTY #21 - Selected Annotated Bibliography for the Librarian Resistance
"I am writing but I am mostly still listening. Letting my friends and community know I am here for them. And reading poetry.

[screenshot of Wendell Berry’s "The Peace of Wild Things"]

Not to be all "Hey it's going to be fine if we all just reconnect with nature and not let it bother us" but more that self-care is useful and the birds don't give a shit about this election so sometimes it can be good to just sit with them to recenter before you get back to work.

Post-election time in America is time for a lot of reflection, frustration, and planning and scheming for whatever is coming down the road. I've been reading and assessing.

My peripatetic lifestyle has always held some risks and that hasn't changed. My position otherwise is not that risky. Many people are being thrown into incredibly vulnerable positions as a result of this election--positions that were only getting slightly stabilized over the last decade--and this is happening at a national or international level, not just in our local communities. I'm proud of what libraries have been able to accomplish in the world so far. I offer a reading list and hopes that we can weather this storm together and form an effective and ruthlessly efficient resistance.


Brief Annotated Bibliography for the Librarian Resistance

• While I am still helping people get their first email addresses, people are blaming algorithms for losing the election for HRC. I am not forwarding this position personally (also not NOT forwarding it) but it's a fascinating look at what can happen when we can't get under the hood of our systems. Noted for later.

• The folks from We Need Diverse Books came out with a post-election statement.

• EFF has provided a very good Surveillance Self-Defense page for those who feel they need to communicate significantly more securely than they have been.

• Helping people with questions about what this all means for them? Lambda Legal has a post-election FAQ for GLBTQ folks. More specifics for other vulnerable populations can be found at Concrete Suggestions in Preparation for January 2017’s Change in American Government a nice repurposable online document (sometimes overloaded with readers, try again if you can't get it).

• Libraries can be a health lifeline for people most at risk, according to a US study (headline is from Reuters, let me know if you'd like me to email you the PDF of the study)

• Rebecca Solnit's book Hope in the Dark is available for free for a few more days.

• Libraries step up (in times of crisis) is a place on Facebook where you can get help with library issues concerning this recent election.

• How to weather the Trump Administration? Head to the library. An OpEd piece in the LA Times.

Librarians may be the only first responders holding the line between America and a raging national pandemic of absolutism. More desperately than ever, we need our libraries now, and all three of their traditional pillars: 1) education, 2) good reading and 3) the convivial refuge of a place apart. In other words, libraries may be the last coal we have left to blow on.

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Urban Libraries Unite is having their annual fund drive and will send you a My Library is for Everyone button if you donate, or you could just make your own button (but donating anyhow is a good idea, I did).

[image]

Maybe you don't know what to do? Letting people know that the library is for everyone, maybe just "surfacing" the policies that you already have like Lawrence Public Library has done, can show people that you know that this is a tough time for many and that you are there for them.

[image]

Or something like this? Other suggestions from Programming Librarian.

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I am bad at talking about my feelings, so I will continue mostly not to. I am better at talking about, and taking, actions. Pointers welcome. Replies to this newsletter always read and replied to. Signing off with a quote from Toni Morrison

"I know the world is bruised and bleeding, and though it is important not to ignore its pain, it is also critical to refuse to succumb to its malevolence. Like failure, chaos contains information that can lead to knowledge—even wisdom. Like art."

and another poem from Wendell Berry.

[screenshot of Wendell Berry’s "The Real Work"]"
jessamynwest  libraries  politics  resistance  donaldtrump  2016  wendellberry  tonimorrison  poetry  librarians  inclusivity  protection  rebeccasolnit  eff  security  privacy  refuge 
november 2016 by robertogreco
TILT #1: librarians like to search, everyone else likes to find
"My father was a technologist and bullshitter. Not in that "doesn't tell the truth" way (though maybe some of that) but mostly in that "likes to shoot the shit with people" way. When he was being sociable he'd pass the time idly wondering about things. Some of these were innumeracy tests "How many of this thing do you think could fit inside this other thing?" or "How many of these things do you think there are in the world?" Others were more concrete "Can I figure out what percentage of the movies that have been released this year will wind up on Netflix in the next twelve months?" and then he'd like to talk about how you'd get the answer. I mostly just wanted to get the answer, why just speculate about something you could know?

He wasn't often feeling sociable so it was worth trying to engage with these questions to keep the conversation going. I'd try some searches, I'd poke around online, I'd ask some people, his attention would wane. Often the interactions would end abruptly with some variant of head-shaking and "Well I guess you can't know some things..." I feel like many, possibly most, things are knowable given enough time to do the research. Still do.

To impatient people many things are "unknowable". The same is true for users of Google. Google is powerful and fast, sure. But they've buried their advanced search deeper and deeper over time, continually try to coerce you to sign in and give them location data, and they save your search history unless you tell them not to. It's common knowledge that they're the largest media owner on the planet, more than Disney, more than Comcast. I use Google. I like Google. But even though they're better than most other search engines out there, that doesn't mean that searching, and finding, can't be a lot better. Getting a million results feels like some sort of accomplishment but it's not worth much if you don't have the result you want.

As filtering and curating are becoming more and more what the internet is about, having a powerful, flexible, and "thoughtful" search feature residing on top of these vast stores of poorly archived digital stuff becomes more critical. No one should settle for a search tool that is just trying to sell you something. Everyone should work on getting their librarian merit badges in order to learn to search, not just find."
jessamynwest  search  internet  google  libraries  2016  filtering  curating  web  online  archives  algorithms 
june 2016 by robertogreco
I need to find a public domain image of _______. How do I do that? | librarian.net
"Reference question of the day was about finding public domain images. Everyone’s got their go-tos. If I am looking for illustrations or old photos specifically I’ll often use other people’s searches on top of the Internet Archive’s content. Here’s a little how to."
search  howto  publicdomain  copyright  free  images  imagesearch  jessamynwest  2016 
june 2016 by robertogreco
Google’s slow fade with librarians — The Message — Medium
"Written in response to “Never trust a corporation to do a library’s job” [https://medium.com/message/never-trust-a-corporation-to-do-a-librarys-job-f58db4673351 ]"



"Time passed. The newsletter started to be written by someone with the job title Associate Marketing Manager, Librarian Outreach in March of 2007. Librarian Central also got a blog in 2007 which they updated like crazy all through the early part of the year. We Googled “limerence” and brushed up on the five love languages. We’d always been big into acts of service.

Then they said they were taking a break. A break? Just for the summer, they said, then didn’t update for a year. Maybe we should have taken a hint? But we were so sure that we were made for each other.

They made one additional post to the blog in 2008 , its last. It was written by someone whose job was Product Marketing Manager, without a clip art book or library in sight. In early 2009 the Librarian Central URL just started redirecting to the blogspot blog. OK, we can take a hint.

We were having our own doubts, of course. How could you not? The Google Books project seemed to be letting itself go. Things any librarian would notice: bad scans; faulty metadata; narrowing the scope of public domain; having machines do jobs that should be done (or at least overseen) by humans. They seemed to be restricting and worsening access to cultural content, not expanding and improving it. Maybe we were going in different directions?

The last issue of the Google Librarian Newsletter in April 2009 directed people to the Inside Google Books blog. We saw Jodi around there until 2010. That blog hasn’t been updated since August 2012. Its last post, by a Google Play Operations Specialist, directs readers to the general Google Search blog. We know when we are getting the runaround.

Sometime in 2014 between August and October, Google removed the Librarian Central blog entirely, took down all the posts and memory-holed it. Maybe it was because of the comment spam. You can still read the posts from the blog through the Internet Archive. Sure, the Archive is not as flashy, but they get the work done and they’re always there for you.



Google came back to the annual ALA Conference in June of 2012 claiming to be a First Time Exhibitor. They looked great, the years had been good to them. They were selling something of course… to libraries or really to anyone. We walked by a few times but they didn’t seem to recognize us.

But we still remember when they were there before. Librarians remember.

Don’t get me wrong, we’re doing pretty great on our own, better than ever really. We’ve gotten a bit more independent, not putting all of our eggs into any one basket, gotten better at establishing boundaries. Still not sure, after all that, how we got this all so wrong. Didn’t we both want the same thing? Maybe it really wasn’t us, it was them. Most days it’s hard to remember what we saw in Google. Why did we think we’d make good partners?"
libraries  archives  google  publicgood  2015  internet  web  online  jessamynwest  librarians  persistence 
february 2015 by robertogreco
My Favorite Holiday — The Message — Medium
"So, sure, Buy Nothing Day is a made-up holiday, popularized by Adbusters and Wired, and even so I’m certain that I “celebrate” it in some sort of non-canon way. At the same time, when I come back to Vermont to my part time public school job and see the tiny menorah that is buried somewhere under the “holiday” tree in the school’s display, I appreciate having one day of celebration that I can be all in on. I campaigned for that menorah, and yet seeing it under the tree gives me a feeling of defeat.

I’ve commemorated Buy Nothing Day in some fashion or another for the past two decades — it’s only been an official thing since 1992 — in two basic ways.

1. I don’t spend any money at all. No matter what.
2. I spend part of the day outside. No matter what.

One of the initial impetuses for #2 was Bill McKibben’s first book The Age of Missing Information which he wrote in 1992. Bill McKibben is better known as the guy behind 350.org. He’s an earnest, sensible Vermonter concerned about climate change and other things that are ruining the world. This was back in the earlier days of cable television and the endless ruminating on what would actually be on those 500 channels we were promised.

In 1992 I was just out of college, living in Seattle, just learning about the Internet, didn’t have cable TV. McKibben found the US city that had the most cable channels, Fairfax Virginia, and recorded 24 hours of programming on all 93 channels. He watched these over a period of about six months, a thousand hours of television. Then he spent 24 hours in the Adirondacks, just thinking about things, and compared the experiences and wrote about them.
“What sets wilderness apart in the modern day is not that it’s dangerous (it’s almost certainly safer than any town or road) or that it’s solitary (you can, so they say, be alone in a crowded room) or full of exotic animals (there are more at the zoo). it’s that five miles out in the woods you can’t buy anything.” ― Bill McKibben, The Age of Missing Information

Now it’s pretty easy to fall into a lazy “Kids today…!” rant about the effects of technology on our lives and our culture. In my current life, I have more jobs that are online than offline, and even the offline ones are about teaching people to get online. I make jokes about becoming a raspberry farmer to get away from it all, but I could never hack the hours. Farmers get up early. McKibben’s not a snot about his observations, he just makes them and moves on. He later wrote a book, Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case for a More Joyful Christmas, which was a project done with local churches to spend more money and time making sure everyone had their basic needs met and less money and effort on the shopping part of Christmas; creating genuine traditions that instilled a sense of well-being and fellowship, not feelings of urgency and competition."
jessamynwest  buynothingday  consumerism  holidays  2014  consumption  cv  glvo  christmas  blackfriday  traditions  billmckibben  environment  sustainability  well-being  money  time  fellowship  urgency  competition  technology  tv  television  life  living 
december 2014 by robertogreco
Kern Your Enthusiasm (22) | HiLobrow
"I understand the problem. For a while, Comic Sans was everywhere. Things get overused and then they’re played out. People get excited about a thing and it’s briefly cool and then it’s tired, forever. Design matters and this isn’t great design. Having preferences, aligning with other people who share those preferences and spurning people who don’t align with those preferences is a big part of how we create our social identity. The font could be more elegant. It could, objectively, be better at being a font.

And so people pile on Comic Sans in a way that they’d never pick on nerds in school. And every time you see your library or your community center making a poster with Comic Sans — “Hey, come to the puppet show!” — there’s a bit of a nose wrinkle, an almost-sneer. Like they didn’t get the memo. Like they don’t even know. Like a puppet show is serious business.

But think back to 1994. We’d just gotten the graphical web and all web page backgrounds were grey. Cutting edge at this point was changing that color to white. Microsoft’s website — you know, the people who released Comic Sans — looked like this.

Your other font choices were Times and Arial. And neither one of them was very… fun.

As Vincent Connare, creator of Comic Sans explains, Microsoft needed an informal font for an informal purpose, Microsoft Bob. And yeah, that didn’t turn out too well. But it had a friendly dog, and that dog talked to you and, as Connare says, “Comic dogs don’t talk in Times New Roman.” A point that’s hard to argue with.

“It’s often badly used,” he goes on, but that’s really a problem with society and not a problem with the typeface. And so Comic Sans joins the ranks of Nickelback and Hot Pockets as a thing you’re only allowed to like in a so-bad-it’s-good way. But I make posters for the library, and sometimes the puppet show poster looks best in Comic Sans. A victimless crime, no? So why does anyone care?

The internet is full of decontextualized symbology that winds up in the Kangaroo Court of Lulz, which finds things lacking in appeal — although they were not those things’ intended audience. There are other things to aspire to than being cool or even appealing. Comic Sans is fine. You are fine."
comicsans  typography  elitism  snobbiness  preference  identity  2014  vincentconnare  1995  jessamynwest  design 
august 2014 by robertogreco

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