early adapters

May 13, 2007

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The mighty information aesthetics featured this Good Magazine video today, an infographic illustration of how porn underlies internet culture and economy, starring a porn performer, with the information writ upon her very flesh! No duh, we all say, and how 1968 Miss America Pageant protest turned horribly wrong.

This is the point I don’t get about librarians’ ambiguous role as arbiters of new and emerging Web technologies, when illicit content plays a large role in spurring and spreading the mass adaptation of such. I think it probably goes without saying that I’ve been conditioned by generation and profession to be both relentlessly sex positive as well as new-technology positive, so I want nothing less (and fear nothing more) than to be a naysayer. But I think that we need to acknowlege the complicated nature of techonology delivery. Almost every tech innovation we talk about now had a pall of the adult industry a few years ago- porn has driven major technological shifts, from VHS to web cams, to teledildonics. Look at Second Life- casual projections put its sex industry at 30 per cent of the total economy. And in the weird socially conservative world we live in, it’s not proper to critically respond to exposure to porn culture, because that’s too direct a mention of sex.  Can we talk about how this might be a barrier to conceptualizing service, or how pushing something hard without talking about how people have experienced it might be a little insensitive?

And again, what’s up with Good Magazine? Sweetly totalitarian ethics?!

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Required reading for new library school grads

March 22, 2007

If you have recently graduated with your MLS and are in the process of seeking employment, especially in an academic library, I implore you to read this fantastic article by Nancy Cunningham. The article, In Search of an Emotionally Healthy Library, could potentially save you a lot of heartache and stress. If only I had had this article when I was interviewing for my current position. There are tons of great tips in here on how to discern whether or not this library is seriously toxic or a place where collegiality is the rule and the staff doesn’t feel like slitting their wrists every day. My own personal job search hint: if the library to which you’ve applied has a male director AND assistant director and the majority of the library staff is female, this should make you scratch your temple. If they also insist on being referred to as “Dr.” while everyone else on staff, even those with Ph.Ds are called by their first names, RUN as fast as your little legs can carry you


geeks and cheerleaders

March 15, 2007

Reconceptualizing librarianship, reinventing the profession, blah blah blah. I think a lot of folks are rightly interested in changing the work model for librarians. But from my viewpoint, when we do this, we too often whitewash or downplay the fact that we do spend much of our days doing service and administrative oriented things like removing staples, being nice and helpful, and cleaning up vomit, and for generally low salaries. So, despite the fact that our professional discourse is tech-wise, we’re not quote-unquote geeks, we don’t work like them, and we don’t get paid like them. So, seriously, read the insanely widespread “8 Things Intelligent People, Geeks, and Nerds Need to Work Happily” post from Nomadishere with a good sized grain of salt. While flexibility and lifestyle considerations are the key tenets of this thing, they’re presented as they apply to well-paid young white guys with tattoos, not to working mothers or anyone else who may not fit into office norms for reasons other than their dislike of sports.

There’s also a growing number of media studies of women in service jobs, namely, the recent fascination with cheerleaders-turned-drug reps. We can and should read ourselves into these types of stories, even if there are rarely cheerleaders-turned-librarians. The Times feature brings up many points, such as the prevalence of sexual harassment in the field. The Brazen Careerist picked up on this story, with her own take on gender in sales and service jobs. I find her frank take on sexual harassment informative, if a little horrifying. I’m willing to admit that I’m fascinated by Penelope Trunk and her brand of career advice, and her closing bit to the cheerleader article is something that ambitious librarians should keep in mind, despite its emphasis on attractiveness.“Outgoing, good-looking women can have great careers in sales — or anywhere else they want to go. So go into the workforce with talent and ambition and create the life you want. Really.”