Category Archives: Blog

On programming, and picking up skills that I should have developed before…

Ever since I started this job, I’ve been thinking in the back of my head that I’ll have to end up doing a bunch of programming – just for my own benefit.

It’s now come to this – I’ll have to step up my game with Processing.

Reason: I have a touch table in my room now and, while it runs Windows 7, I’d like to be able to create some applications that are specifically touch related. It looks as though there is a way to use a library of code called TouchLib that will allow touch interaction, but to get beyond the simple demos I’ll have to make my own applications. It said I needed to use C++.

Thank god that’s not actually true – I can use Processing – which I have been learning on my own anyway! Perfect!

A lot of my time has now been dedicated to doing something awesome – I’m pretty excited about this project, and any other web projects I may have. I’ll for sure be updating the blog with more of my shenanigans…heh

When teaching your first class, talk slower!

I taught my first infolit class a week or two ago. I think it went well. As well as it could have gone considering it was the first college class I’ve ever taught!

Yup. I’m an academic librarian. So excited.

One thing I learned while I was teaching that class was that I talk really fast. I figured that all of my presentation experience would have taught me to speak slower when in front of people. Apparently not.

Another thing is to not really put too much trust on untested tech. I tried to use my iPad as my presentation platform – it worked fine for the first demo but when it was time to present a website, oh man. The app I used broke down. I had to quickly switch to the desktop.

I mean, for the first class, it wasn’t bad. Im looking forward to teaching my full fledged class this fall!

T-minus a few weeks left!

A lesson in collective nostalgic hysteria

I started this post on BART on my way home from a Jeff Mangum concert and it was definitely an experience.

The concert itself was good. Honestly, having never heard Jeff Mangum/Neutral Milk Hotel before I started dating B, it wasn’t on my radar. The band is good, not necessarily my cup of tea though…

What I was more interested in was the fact that there was such hysteria over this concert. Apparently, Jeff Mangum is notoriously reclusive, so he rarely goes out and does promos/concerts/tours. To have him do a tour, especially years after the band broke up, was a big deal.

I started reading some stuff about the shows, and lots of people were discussing how emotional it was and how they or others at the show, started crying. I was shocked…I don’t think I’ve ever been this emotionally invested in one band/musician….EVER. Maybe I’m just not the right person to enjoy this music. Maybe it just never hit an emotional note for me.

Whatever it is, it was definitely some sort of nostalgic hysteria going on. The people around me, more than at any other concert I have been to, where in a state of ecstasy, singing along to songs I’ve never heard, and songs that probably they have never heard before in person, and writhing and dancing to a melody I wasn’t familiar with.

I felt like an impostor, attending because I could. If anything, it was kind of a great sociological experience – witnessing these people listen enraptured by this musician they haven’t seen live before, listening to songs from the late 90s.

Nostalgia has always been one of those things that I’ve been fascinated by, maybe I’ll work on a project related to it sometime…

Until then, I’ll look back 40 years past to see if anything inspires me.


(Lesson) Planning for the Future

I sometimes like to sit here and fantasize about what I’ll be doing in the future.

I’d love to teach again, and not just literacy/library/research related courses. Like actual, random, curricular courses. Much like how UCLA had the Fiat Lux program, I’d love the opportunity to propose a class and teach it.

One class I’m dying to teach is a sociology of celebrity class, doing a comparison of the lives/fame of a variety of celebrities to build a framework on celebrity. In reality, it’s just an excuse for me to finally create that Kanye West-inspired class that I’ve been thinking about lately. One of the required books would be Kanye’s Thank You and You’re Welcome – a collection of his thoughts on celebrity, fame, and culture.

Another class is inspired by a presentation I was just working on regarding statistical literacy. In this course, we discuss bias through statistics, create our own datasets, and work on creating visualizations. It will heavily rely on visualizations and infographics, and would encourage students to be as creative as they could with their work.

I guess in the near future, I should start/finish planning my lessons for my web design class, since I lost most of my lesson plans when my hard drive died…

Gaming and the search for perfect information

Lately, I’ve gotten into the concept of gaming. In this case, I don’t mean playing video games (although you wouldn’t know it by my World of Warcraft account…). I mean, video games are fun and all, but I don’t find them appealing mainly because I’ve lost the social aspect of it. Despite being an MMORPG, I so rarely interact with others in the game that i’s become a moot point. I quest by myself, I level up by myself. I occasionally run dungeons with others, but so rarely and the dungeons don’t encourage much downtime for socialization.

No. Not video games…but board games. I’m kind of glad I added GAMERT as one of my round tables for ALA. I’m curious to see what other games librarians like to play. So far, I’ve played the following games:

  • Lost Cities
  • Ascension
  • Citadels
  • Hive
  • Carcasonne

Of all these games, I wasn’t a fan of Citadels. Although it was playable with two people, it was too easy to figure out what cards the other player had chosen and then choose the proper response. I grew so frustrated with it, I had to stop playing!

My favorite has to be Lost Cities! Simple, easy to play, quick and has really high replay value. Right now, I’m playing Carcasonne and it’s pretty fun. Especially since I can play it on my iPad/iPhone! Fun times!

As much as this post is about gaming, it’s also about the idea of perfect information. To me, perfect information is knowing what your opponent has to play, what their strategy could be, and anything that can affect how you play and your likelihood of winning.

In (two player) Citadels, the players have nearly perfect information about their opponents. This makes it so frustrating, especially when the game isn’t collaborative. In a game that’s mainly random and luck based, there is little that having perfect information affects. For example, when I look at Lost Cities, I don’t think knowing what your opponent is trying to do will necessary affect your decision – this could be a result of the fact that interaction between players is at a minimum.

I guess, really, this is where the divergence between the need for perfect information and it’s irrelevance occurs: when the game is collaborative, or one in which interaction between players is kept to a minimum, then perfect information doesn’t change decisions or play style. However, when competition is an inherent part of a game, having perfect information plays a more important role.

I’m more a fan of collaborative games, or luck based games. I guess that means I’m a fan of perfect information? Ha! What a weird, logical leap that is…

Curious Cartographic Collections

I’ve been slacking lately on my posts, but with the new year I feel like I can finally refocus on this little project of mine. I’d also like to start creating original posts, rather than commenting on interesting links that I find online. For now, this will do. Maybe in the future, I’ll start releasing short snippets of interesting bits of papers that I’m writing on, or projects of mine that are mainly offline.

Now, on to the main post..maps.

This interesting in mapping came about mainly in college, and it was because I loved the idea of studying the growth of suburbs and mapping out migration patterns for immigrants. It’s really cool, it’s really visual, and allows you to analyze what is going on.

I especially love looking at cool, unique, or even controversial maps. These maps from Mental Floss don’t really seem too controversial to me, but they are most definitely interesting.

Of these three, the one that I love the most is the one that suggests a reorganization of the United States into new states. How much work would have to be put into that? Even if the supposed new states allowed for a more equal distribution of resources, it would be difficult to break from the connection we have with our former states. There is a lot of emotional attachment connected to our sense of geography. To be forced to reassociate ourselves with a new state, while also internally mourning the loss of our former state would be difficult for so many people – especially given the bonds we have formed and the history behind each state.

via mental_floss Blog » 3 Controversial Maps.

Week in review: IL2011

Man, I have been busy these past few weeks. Last Sunday, I left the South Bay, hopped onto the 101 South and made my way down to Monterey with some awesomebrarians to attend Internet Librarian 2011.

This is easily my favorite conference, just because I learn so much from all of the sessions. It’s also my favorite conference because this was the second year I presented in it, and the first that I wasn’t in the Internet@Schools track. My friend and I had two presentations: Social Media Storytelling: Lessons from the Ad world – in which we discussed various ad campaigns and the lessons libraries can learn from these campaigns in how to market their library, Serendipitous Social Searching – in which we discussed the concept of serendipity in a digital realm and how it compares to physical serendipity.

In addition to these two presentations, I also have my Geography of Information presentation at Library2.011 this coming Wednesday (which I am working on right now and am pretty damn excited about….).

I’d like to write a more detailed review of IL2011, but I didn’t get to attend as many sessions as I wanted to – the keynotes were certainly inspirational and aspirational. I’m really sad that I missed out on the gamification keynote because I would have loved to hear a librarians perspective on it, but it’s been something I’ve been reading about for a while so I’m not too disappointed.

Aside from conferences, I’ve had to deal with my laptop hard drive dying – I’ve lost all of my work, but at least my laptop is back up and running. I’m considering this a sign that I needed to clean out a whole bunch of crap from my life.

By the end of the week, I’d like to post my notes from my two presentations for those who were interested in what we had to say. I was really surprised at the number of people who came up to us and thanked us for bringing attention to the importance of storytelling as a marketing tool. yay for tapping into a need that no one had really considered!

Looking positively…

Despite everything bad going on today for me, i’ve decided I’m going to try to think positively.

Last night, I had decided to upgrade to Lion and iOS5. Well…the Lion upgrade apparently revealed that my hard drive was dying – today it died.

I just lost years of work…at least my school work has been backed up. But anything gone….

So now, I’m trying to put a positive spin on it: I should act as this as a refresh in life. I’ve now gotten rid of everything that bloated my laptop and now I am free to start fresh.

At least my presentations next week are all in Google Docs. I adore you Apple, but Google FTW!

Lesson learned: backup your stuff. Or adopt this new philosophy of getting rid of everything that isn’t immediate.

I want to do everything and nothing

I want to do everything in the library. I want to shelve the books, I want to process the books, I want to teach the classes.

I want to do nothing with the library. I want to create websites, I want to learn how to program, I want to be a technologist.

It’s really hard for me to realize that I want to do all of these things at once but that I can’t. I want to be teach classes, I want to learn how to program. I want to process books, and I want to create websites. In my first month or so, I’ve pretty much done all of these things. Well. Not the teach a class part, but that’s something that’s out of my hands and I don’t think needs to be addressed. I’ve become more accustomed to dealing with the technology issues that happen everyday and that’s a good thing.

As part of our back to school process, we are all required to come up with a goal for the year. Me being me, I managed to create a goal that is not feasible in a year, but rather a ten year goal. Whoops?

On the bright side, I’m getting things done – I’ve started working on a style guide for our LibGuides and I’ve also managed to mess it up all at the same time! I accidentally forgot to close off my <style> tag…oops? That made the entire page GREEN and no other elements to show up. Lesson learned: DOUBLE CHECK CLOSING TAGS!

Why I love practical math

During high school, I learned that I loved math. I loved that challenge of solving problems, of learning new techniques to solve older problems, learning about the quirks of the number systems and how to get around them. In my mind, math was about the challenge of solving problems through various means. My favorite part of my math homework was trying various formulas and ideas to solve the problems we were given. If it didn’t work, I could always erase my paper and get back to work. It was about attempting things.

I’m pretty sure my logic is a little flawed – most people don’t like math because they see it as a challenge to solve problems through any means. For those who do like math, it’s learning about the beauty of numbers, of figuring out the logic behind systems, of finding out “y?” (what up, random Adventures of Pete and Pete reference!). It takes a special kind of person to really enjoy math – they have to be willing to work through problems and to be stymied by not finding the right answer.

In college, I realized that as much as I loved math, there were things that I didn’t enjoy about it. I find abstraction to be annoying sometimes – as much as I can wrap my head around certain problems, when there are multiple layers of abstraction, when I have to transform my logic too many times, I get annoyed because I don’t see the practical application of the abstraction. This is why I loved my practical math classes – I took courses on mathematical modeling, on game theory, on learning MatLab for numerical methods. I learned so many practical skills from these classes and I enjoyed each class immensely.

I like learning about why the things I am learning about are important or applicable to real life. It’s why I really enjoyed my sociology degree because I learned about things that are interesting and actually about real life, about real interactions. It’s why I pursued my MLIS – I learned skills that will help me with information design and helping people find the information they need.

In life, the most important thing is to enjoy what you do. The second most important is learning transferrable and applicable skills. It’s time to encourage students to think about more than just their grade, but to also think about how what they are learning will help them in the future. At the end of the day, teach skills, not just content.

How to Fix Our Math Education