Link roundup: August 18, 2014

(My current reading is at the end, since discussing it got long, because I’ve been reading awesome things.)

Continue reading Link roundup: August 18, 2014

Links of interest: January 17, 2014

Past time for another interesting link roundup. I’m also going to add comments about recent reading/watching

Books:

I’ve been running through the massive set of the Kerry Greenwood Phryne Fisher series, both because all but the last handful were available on Oyster (which I’m still loving) and partly because the first season of the TV series (Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries) showed up on Netflix, and I wanted to reread and read the books before watching. They’re glorious fun, set in 1928/1929 Australia.

Watching:

I worked my way through the current Netflix-available seasons of Poirot for my knitting watching, then White Collar and rewatching rather a lot of Leverage plus finishing what I hadn’t seen.

Web: 

Technology: 

Research: 

Libraries and information: 

Other topics:

Links of Interest : February 19, 2013

It’s been a while since my last one of these. Sorry!

Continue reading Links of Interest : February 19, 2013

A link roundup

So, yeah. Not doing so well with keeping up with the external blog. Let’s give this another try, and I’ll do a big roundup of links I keep meaning to share. (Which go back quite a few months.)

History and Memory:

  • A fascinating piece from the NYT about the challenges of the 9/11 museum.
  • An amazing take on why Machiavelli was so important to modern political thought.
  • Make your own Bayeux-style tapestry story. (done in HTML and JavaScript)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has released PDF versions of many of their out of print exhibit catalogs. Many many many awesome things. I’d apologise for the hours of productive time you will lose from them, but it’s art. It’s gorgeous. It’s fascinating.
  • Wil Wheaton is generally thought-provoking, but I keep coming back to this recent piece from him about personal history and remembering.

Libraries, search, finding information: 

  • I think I originally bookmarked this piece from Dear Author for the discussion of ebook agreements, but it’s also got a great infographic of how important public libraries are.
  • Some really interesting comments on letting go of Boolean operators and other new approaches to teaching research.
  • Solving impossible research problems has some really interesting advanced tips. (It still does not solve a years-old problem for me, which is identifying a flower from a remembered smell. But.)
  • A nice intro to creating screencasts
  • Get your PhD in Googling. (Well, not really, but it’s fun).
  • The Pew study on libraries, library patrons, and ebooks (bunches of you have probably seen this.)
  • A fascinating article on a professor who set an assignment for his class to fool Wikipedia – and how he got caught.
  • An amusing library intro video, Lord of the Libraries.
  • Librarian in Black takes on the problems of ebooks and libraries. (She’s done it before, but this version is excellent.)

Books:

  • Dear Author takes on the question of authors putting up not-entirely-final copies of books, and the larger question of author/reader interaction.
  • Five Books takes on the History of Reading. (as in, reading books, not the place.)

Technology:

  • Joyce Valenza had an interesting piece on how we approach using technology, including comments and video from Sherry Turkle.
  • Vintage advertisements for modern technology. (You may have seen these already, because they have been all over the Internet. They’re still amusing.)
  • A really interesting look at how one piece of technology leads to a whole new interest and set of connections.
  • The complications of two-step verification (with a nice look at both pros and cons, and a personal story)
  • Doug Johnson has a great reminder of the proportional risk in online interaction (bullying, not predators).
Information:
  • I rather liked this Lifehacker piece on how to determine if controversial statement is scientifically true.
  • Historical notes on some widely-known songs. (Fascinating!)
  • I’ve been reading a lot of articles from Longform, which collects both current and older long-form articles on a huge variety of subjects. I’d handwave at a bunch of them, but really, go dig for yourself.
  • Rip currents are sort of fascinating. And lethal. Here, have a video about them.
  • A good friend did a roundup of links on Scandesotan  (I am moderately fluent in the dialect these days. Twelve years of living in Minnesota does that to you if you hang out with certain crowds. I’m still recalibrating for New England, which has some similarities and some differences.)
  • Turnitin.com has a sort of interesting study on the plagiarism they most often see.
  • Finding the first emigrant processed at Ellis Island.

And because I’ve been eyeing aurora borealis photos recently, have some gorgeous shots. Oregon. Northern Minnesota.

Links of interest : March 16th, 2012

Welcome to the first edition of “links of interest” since, um, July? Yeah. Turns out that when I swap all my work blog reading from home to work, I then totally break my workflow for writing the blog posts at home. I think I now have a solution to that, involving dumping everything into Instapaper and sorting it out from there.

I am not even going to try collecting all the awesome links from the past seven months, but here’s a range of ones currently intriguing me.

Continue reading Links of interest : March 16th, 2012

Links of interest: July 1st, 2011

Welcome to a very long links roundup, as it’s been a few weeks. (I expect they’ll be fairly regularly through most of July, and then sporadic, as I get myself moved and settled in Maine.) Since I’ve got a ton of links, let’s do these in some simple categories.

Continue reading Links of interest: July 1st, 2011

Circles, what we tell ourselves, and schools

I’m spending the weekend at a gathering of my co-religionists, talking about fascinating things.

(Actually, I’m one of the people running the event, which after two years of planning is actually a real thing, and so wonderful: all our glitches have been small and fixable so far, but enough to convince me I am not in fact dreaming). But I’m also an attendee. We’ll come back to this.)

One of today’s talks centered around a couple of things that immediately made me go “Must blog about that on ModernHypatia!”

Stories we tell ourselves:

Cultures tell stories. More than that, we tell stories about how the world works, and those stories then shape how the world actually is. Because people listen to the stories.

I’ve been applying to a lot of jobs this year, and one of the things that has fascinated me about the process (and kept me going through the harder bits) has been looking at the stories places that are hiring tell about themselves. It’s particularly true in the independent school community (where the major part of my experience is), but it’s also true in the public libraries and the colleges and the other positions I’m looking at.

Some people call that a mission statement, or a vision statement. But those things are simply reflections of the story, reflections of the narrative, condensed down. Every time we say “This place welcomes diversity” and then act on that, we’re adding to the story. Every time we select books for a display or to add to the collection, we’re adding to the story. One of my library science professors talked about collection development – the art of deciding what to buy (and what not to buy) – as the relationships between an item, other items in the collection, and the people who use them. I definitely agree with that, but I think it goes further: it’s about the stories that become more obvious, when we put them in the same space.

Anyway, part of the talk tonight focused on the narrative of our culture, which is in large part the narrative of progress. That civilisation begins at some distant, dark, and probably unpleasant beginning, goes on through a bunch of stages, and then ends up with us, moving forward through us into some better, brighter, future.

It’s a story where each day must somehow be better than the last, or we’ve failed. It’s a story more and more people I know are less and less satisfied with. It’s lacking. Some see various points that cannot be sustained.

Circles:

It’s also not actually how the world works. Yes, things progress, but they also decline. We have lived in a world that has seen entire classes of beings rise and fall (dinosaurs, for example, or North American and South American megafauna.) And we’ve lived in a world that has seen empires rise – and fall again. A few of those falls have been rapid and catastrophic, but many many more of them have taken place over months, years, decades, centuries – even millenia.

And the world goes on.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot the last few days, because of some other reading. You see, I’m currently reading a mystery series by Frank Tallis, set in Vienna in the very early 1900s. It’s a time when my grandfather and his brother were infants in that same city, and when their father and mother were running a thriving business. It was also a time when the Austro-Hungarian empire covered a substantial portion of the map.

Times change, and that empire – and the glittering, rich, highly musical and artistic and creative and scientific life of the city has changed. But Mom and I travelled to Vienna and Budapest a few years ago: they are still lovely cities, rich in history and culture and feeling and wonderful things going on. They have not gone away, they have not failed, they have not ceased to exist. They have simply moved into another portion of their lives, as summer moves into fall. Fall will move into winter, which, yes, has some downsides (as anyone living in a city like Minneapolis that has had a high snowfall this year can attest). But winter moves on to spring, as well.

In other words, a circle. Not a line. A different way of being, not a failure.

One question that’s come up in almost every job interview is how I feel about ebooks, and their role in the modern library. My answer is simple: right now, the rights and the practical issues are still complicated. I expect that will get sorted out sooner than later: my bet is that the landscape 18 months from now will be substantially easier, from a user point of view, and from a library point of view. I think there’s wonderful things in these tools, including opening up a wider range of what it means to read, and how we read.

But that doesn’t mean the books are going away, any more than Vienna or Budapest somehow faded from the map when there was no more empire. The books we have will still be on the shelves. Some kinds of books work better than current technology allows, for at least some uses. (And I don’t know about you, but as a committed reader-in-bathtubs, I’d much rather drop even a $30 hardcover in the tub than a device costing many times that much.) Some people prefer them, for all sorts of reasons. I welcome the new tools and options, but I think there’s still a place in the world for the older ones.

Circles. Cycles. Keeping the best of the old, but being open to what new stories, what new narratives, may come along. And asking questions about our old stories, and how well they’re actually serving us.

The question of schools

One thing I got asked this week was “Why schools”. I’ve been thinking about my answer quite a bit, in part because it comes back to this in a weird way: I love the opportunity to watch students grow up, grow into the selves that are most magnificent and glorious and amazing in offering their particular insights to the world.

But at the same time, while that’s a progression, at least in terms of age, I also see it as a circle: it is a chance every year to begin at a (fairly arbitrary, honestly) point, and to try some new things, and to do some old thing that are loved and tried and tested and helpful, and to see what happens this time. I love the sense of self-reflection that can bring.

And yet, having known many bright and wonderful people for whom ‘the best college’ was not the best goal, I desperately want a narrative that encourages these people to find the things they’re brilliant and magnificent at and share it with the world – something I think our society at large desperately needs. If we move from a model of the straight line of progress, to the curves of a cycle, more people can be more brilliant at more things – and maybe the things we don’t know we need yet, as a culture, a community, and a world.

The last thing:

The last thing from this particular round of conversation is that so much of this begins with the individual.

My goal, not just as a librarian, as an educator, as a sharer of nifty things, but as a human, is to help people find information that makes their lives better, that helps connect them to options and possibilities in a way that’s meaningful to them. Sometimes it’s just standing there waiting to be helpful if I’m needed. Sometimes it’s problem solving and answering questions.

But I think a lot of it is really about my willingness and interest in improving the world, one question at a time. I’m not perfect at this: like everyone, I mess up, or get sidetracked, or have a bad day. But I try always to move along a circle that’s about more choice, more information, more options, in a way people can manage to deal with.

Two years ago, I started going “Hey. We could do this thing. I think it’d be cool and useful and meaningful.” to the board of the organisation running this conference. After about six months of that, they finally said “Well, I think we can do it.” Eighteen months later, we’re here, with amazing people, having great conversations. And it’s only Friday night.

This is not all about me: this event would not exist without the work of dozens of people (just the same way that a school, or a workplace, or anywhere else, should never be about just one person.) But right now, I’m really pleased that I started out, those months ago, saying “Hey, could we, I think it’d be awesome if…”

We all have the chance to nudge the stuff along that we care about – whether it’s by taking on a big project, or whether it’s by chiming in, sharing a quick thought, showing up for something, passing along a resource. That’s what I do my best to work towards at work, and in my personal life, and all the times that are neither and both.

What I want, the next place I work, and the places I live, and the places I share my friendships and thoughts, is a chance to be part of a circle, part of a cycle that honors the rise and the fall, that can explore new things without rejecting the older truths that still work, that takes time for reflection and conversation, and choice. And one that offers people different ways of being within the community, of offering the things only they can offer, as well as those things many people can do. That’s hard (there is nothing quite like running a volunteer-run event to remind you of that!). But it’s worthwhile. And I know those places are out there.

Where do you find them?

Thoughts after Marlowe

I am returned from seeing the Theatre Pro Rata’s production of Dido, Queen of Carthage. Short version: I liked it, it made me think interesting things, and if you’re in the Twin Cities, and have free time before the end of the run, I recommend it to your attention.

[It is running Sunday, the 13th at 2pm, then the 17th, 18th, 19th at 7:30pm, and Sunday the 20th at 2pm. Tickets are on a sliding scale, $14-41  (cash or check only) and you can call and reserve tickets in advance. As my friend Liza found out: to reserve, you call, leave a message, and they'll call you if there's a problem. More at their website.]

I incidentally very much like the tag line in their program and on their mission statement: “We want you to love the play as much as we do.” As you might guess from the length of the following, I do indeed!

Now on to the more involved thoughts. (I am going to discuss things like how the play ends below, because I figure that spoilers on a story that’s been kicking around for the better part of two millenia is just sort of silly. I do make mention of the pace of the ending of another work – Lois McMaster Bujold’s Cryoburn, but not what actually happens.)

Continue reading Thoughts after Marlowe

Links of interest: March 11th, 2011

Hello, welcome to this week’s links-that-intrigue-me.

First: Marianne had some great comments about the copyright videos I linked to last week. One of my other browser windows currently has a bunch of open tabs where I am looking for more varied perspectives (in video form). I hope to get that posted sometime early next week. (I was hoping for this week, but forgot about the part where it takes me more time to watch videos than it does to scan most webpages for the useful bits.)

Changing world:

There continues to be a lot of discussion in various online spaces about ebooks, ebooks and libraries, technology and education, and much more. This fails to surprise me, somehow. This week has brought:

21 things that will be obsolete by 2020 covers.. well, 21 things in the world of education that may not be here. I disagree with a number of points (I’m pretty sure print books will continue to be around, in part because it’s not like the existing print books we have now are suddenly going to vanish in a puff of smoke or anything), but it does raise some interesting issues about the assumptions behind our current educational models, and what could change, what should change, and what might be really amazing to explore.

Banned Library has a post on 5 Reasons Libraries Should Not Use eBooks … Yet. There’s some vociferous disagreement in the comments that makes further interesting points. (Me, I agree that there are some very real technical, practical, and funding challenges there, especially for public libraries, and that it makes sense not to put too much weight on any one solution or option until some things settle more.)

Brian, at Swiss Army Librarian, has a roundup of links and conversation about the current ebook situation and Harper Collins. [ETA: I realised when making another edit I forgot to mention something here: my understanding from folks I know in the publishing industry is that most of the costs in publishing remain for ebooks - it's just the shipping/distribution bits of the cost that disappear, which are not as big a part of an individual book's cost as you might think at first glance. I'll see if I can dig up some useful discussions of this.]

Steve Lawson and Iris Jastram have the beginnings of a plan for libraries and ebooks: it’s articulate, thoughtful, and addresses a number of specific frustrations and issues. It also can continue to grow, so they’re looking for feedback. Jenica and Marianne both also have additional excellent comments on the plan. (I’m still thinking about the questions Marianne raises.)

Interacting online:

The other major theme in my reading this week was some interesting approaches to interacting online.

Mark Thompson, at Poynter, has a great post called “A 5-minute framework for fostering better conversations in comments sections” that looks in particular at the challenges of figuring out a better way to do that for NPR’s comment threads, that includes links to a lot of different examples (both of what works, and what fails).

Library Journal Online had a piece on whether incremental or major website redesigns are better for libraries (and there’s some discussion in comments). My own take is that it depends very much on what you’re using on the back-end: sometimes a big leap into a new scaffolding is the best way to be able to be more flexible and incremental in the future.

Tyler Tevo0ren had an interesting guest post at Zen Habits on creating a mindful digital life. I particularly am mulling over the advice to “Choose the traits you like about yourself, and exemplify them online.” and the idea of a digital home versus embassies.

There have been a series of posts by various people on the concept of a “YA Mafia” – namely, the idea that YA authors are using their power to ruin up and coming authors, and that’s turned into a more general discussion about cliquishness, friends, and social connections in the publishing industry.

Holly Black’s initial post on this summarises the flaw with the first part very simply: as she says

“But even if there was a YA Mafia, I very much doubt that they’d be able to ruin your career because writers are basically lazy and impractical people. We live in our heads a lot and we can barely get it together to do anything. Seriously, it took me until after 3pm yesterday to get myself a sandwich.”

She’s got a further link round up in a later post, and the DearAuthor site has some thoughts, links to past discussions related to the romance community, and links to other notable posts related to the bigger discussion of interactions between readers, authors, and reviewers.

And finally:

Sarah, at Librarian in Black, has a fascinating if distressing post talking about the results of a survey around book challenges. I find it distressing, but not precisely surprising that there are more challenges than get reported, and that many challenges are not handled in accordance with the actual policy.

Links of Interest : February 18th, 2011

Tech literacy notes:

danah boyd has a new piece about how teens use Twitter, and the related privacy negotiation involved. (And the fact that teens seem to be doing just fine with it, mostly.)

New technology needs:

I’ve seen extensive discussion in several places recently (The PubLib list, in particular, but elsewhere) about library patrons using apps to scan their library (or grocery, or whatever) card and carry the device, not the card. Brian at Swiss Army Librarian has a great post on the issues of using scanned barcodes on mobile devices, and looks not only at the policy piece, but at the technology one (many scanners won’t correctly read the screen version, but there’s a cheap fix).

Brian also had a great piece on keyloggers, and why it’s so critical for librarians to be aware of what their technology devices look like and do, so they can spot things that shouldn’t be there. This lead him to a third post, talking about what technology skills librarians should have, and why (or at least a start on a meaningful list.)

Better teaching:

Iris, at Pegasus Librarian, has had several great posts this week, on multi-disciplinary seminars, uncovering research practices in student writing, and “Breaking up with best practices, hooking up with learning goals“, which is a great title and an even better post.

I always love Iris’s attention to process and detail, but I particularly love the post on research writing, and the rubric and materials she links to immediately made my brain start wandering across what things could be implemented in other settings – both other educational settings, but also in conversations about online literacy, digitial citizenship, and so on.

Doug Johnson has been running pieces this week from a chapter of the “technology survival” book he’s working on for teachers. In it, he lays out three samples of how different schools and settings might use technology, all of which have some obvious benefits, but also some flaws or at least challenges. You can read some of the background behind his approach (with links to the three examples).

And from a different perspective, a post on one of the personal finance blogs I read, Get Rich Slowly, had a guest post about an 11 year old’s first budget (and ongoing cost decisions) that I found really interesting from the perspective of “stuff we don’t always teach/talk about well”. I found the need to jump back and start with more basics (about what the point of a budget is, why it’s useful, etc.) to be a really interesting analogy to where I sometimes find myself in information literacy work – just because someone knows how to use a piece of technology for one task doesn’t mean that they know all about using it thoughtfully.

Future of the field:

Doug Johnson has an interesting post on how to answer the question of “Should I go into the school library field?” I also like the two School Library Journal articles he links to at the end of his post.

Hi, I’m Jen

Librarian, infovore, and general geek, likely to write comments about books, link collections, and other thoughts related to how we find, use, and take joy in information.

I'm the Information Technology Librarian at the University of Maine at Farmington, the small liberal arts college model campus in the University of Maine system.

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