Category Archives: Idealized

Starbucks Chiseled Collection as the mainstreaming of the New Aesthetic

It’s been a while since I last posted. I’ve been working on a bunch of projects, some articles are in the pipeline, a book chapter or two will be coming out in the next year, and just general academic librarian issues.

I’m currently sitting at Starbucks, drinking what is possibly one of the sweetest drinks I’ve ever had here – a Caramel Ribbon Frap, just to try it out. I was looking at their marketing for the drink and their new collection and realized it’s very…New Aesthetic-y. You know, that new glitch aesthetic, homemade/handmade/diy/imperfect. Examples of New Aesthetic include this tumblr, a very good article from Wired, and this post by Gizmodo with links to other examples.

At Starbucks, they released their early summer drinks and a new collection of cups that are chiseled like idealized icebergs. Looking at it, I don’t get the cool/chill look that they are going for – I get the digital, imperfect aesthetic that they didn’t mean for. It’s almost the perfect example of a mainstreaming of the New Aesthetic – an introduction to the world of a new look for consumer products.

What do you think? Are you familiar with the New Aesthetic? What do you think of it?

On the need for a conversation

These past two weeks, I’ve spent them considering what to do for some conference/paper proposals.

As an exercise in becoming a better, more proficient writer, I figured I should start to write down my ideas and see if I can get a conversation started about them.

There’s a call out for the gameRT for proposals for ALA Midwinter and I figured the best proposal would be one that I’m familiar with: hosting the first International Gaming Day @ Your Library event here at Cal State East Bay. I’ll talk about proposing it, the setup, the advertising, the actual event. Then discuss successes, failures and future possibilities for gaming events. I’d also like to see how many other academic libraries hosted such an event – maybe there could be a network of us!

One more is a call for papers for a journal called Library Hi Tech. The theme of the issue is smart spaces, and I was considering modifying one of my presentations on personal learning networks and talking about how learning networks have changed in virtual space, and how we need to be malleable with our spaces. This one isn’t as fully fleshed out thought.

Not for a proposal, but I am interested in editing some previous papers that I wrote in college and updating them to include new research and maybe submitting them to a journal, specially the ones I wrote about World of Warcraft, and some other ones I wrote about celebrity theory.

Oh! Actually! Speaking of celebrity theory, how does this sound – I’m thinking of a PCA/ACA proposal, in which I examine Hallyu and the perfection of the celebrity industry within it? It would consider celebrity theory, pop culture theory and psychology. It’s very in-vogue, and totally within my realm of interest.

There are a few more sitting in the back burner, but I’m not yet ready to reveal them. All in due time…

Ready, Steady, Go: Ready Player One and the celebration of nostalgia

I just started reading Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and so far, I’m enjoying the possibilities in it.

The book is organized into 2 levels with multiple chapters within each level. I’m currently still in Level 1, Chapter 5. Despite the setting of a near-future Earth, I don’t feel like it’s too sci-fi-y. In all honesty, it almost feels like a Neal Stephenson book, in the style of writing. Parts of it feel like it could be lifted from Snow Crash, which I have yet to finish too (maybe I should get on that….). That being said, I don’t think this will be part of the pantheon of sci-fi writing at all – it feels too…normal. Nothing is outlandish, everything feels like it could happen, it’s great!

I was side-eyeing the book though, when the history of GSS was being discussed…it felt almost like a word for word description of the founding of Apple. As inspiration, he definitely could have done worst but, at the same time, be a bit more original! I just needed to change the names to Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and it was Apple.

I’m really looking forward to finishing this book, mainly because I love, love, love seeing games, simulations, virtual environments, AR, being discussed in a book as part of normal society and not some sort of fringe element. I hope that the rest of the book continues as it’s been so far.

What I really can’t wait for (especially since it’s too early to tell right now) is the element of nostalgia that really drew me to this book. Nostalgia is always such an interesting thing – why do we venerate things that have passed? Why do we only pick out the most interesting elements of the past and hold them up on a pedestal? I’m totally a perpetrator for nostalgia – I always look back fondly at the past. At least in Ready Player One, there is a reason – they need to become well-versed with the past to unlock the secrets of a game.

I’m very excited to finish this book. Here’s hoping it’s as good as I’m building it up to be!

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

Tears and Emotional Vulnerability

I sometimes love a good cry. It feels good to really cry sometimes and just let your emotions out. I recently had an episode in which I cried in public, at the Starbucks that I go to all the time.

I was sitting here, working on some projects for class, when all of a sudden a man walked in who reminded me of my father. I’d seen this man before, but I never made the connection until I was sitting here, feeling oddly vulnerable. It could be the way he walked, the way he talked, the way he ordered his drink, the way he sat and stared at people, it could be a whole lot of different things.

But for some reason, he reminded me so much of my father that I started crying at Starbucks. Like, out and out crying, tears streaming down my face. I tried to hide it as best as I could, by wiping my face with napkins, pretending I was sniffly and had to blow my nose and by hiding my shame under my hoodie. Why was I was so ashamed of my tears? It’s not like I was crying over something petty like a broken nail or a hurt foot, this was emotion from the deepest part of your soul – tears for a lost loved one.

Eventually the tears went away, but I was affected by it for the rest of the day. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels awkward when they see someone cry. Though I consider myself a caring person, when I see someone crying, I never really know how to handle the situation, so I tend to stand there awkwardly and just say “it’ll be okay…”. Why do we feel this awkwardness around emotion?

I think that sometimes we are scared at having people become aware of our own emotions, so we get scared when others are freely expressing themselves in public – we question why they are doing it. It might be some form of jealousy – we are jealous of the fact that they are willing to be themselves in public and let others see their true selves. Crying and the expression of emotion tends to show the world that we are vulnerable people and by showing our vulnerability, we worry that others will take advantage of us.

Personally, I don’t care if people see me cry. I’m a sloppy crier sometimes, but I generally tend to be very reserved in my tears. There are times when I force myself to cry, because it acts as a form of catharsis for me. Despite my exploding Facebook feed, I do tend to keep my emotions hidden from others – the Facebook chatter tends to be hollow. My true emotions are hidden from most people….but that’s the subject for another blog post later on.

Look at Me, I’m Crying – NYTimes.com.

Bandwagonning regarding the Future of the Library

This blog post by Seth Godin has been making the rounds on various library/librarian blogs. Lots of people have expressed their opinions, whether of support or dissent towards the post. I guess it’s my turn. I’m nothing if not overly critical of things, so this should be fun =)

It appears to me as if he is showing a progression of people’s perception of libraries throughout various technological innovations. He beings with the idea of libraries as a warehouse for books for sharing. When books were expensive, this was the main perception of libraries – as a place to access knowledge that the common person could not afford.

He next goes on to point out the idea of the library as a house for a librarian. This part, I don’t quite understand his point. By saying that with the decreasing costs of books and the increase in knowledge production, is he suggesting that the librarian has become an integral part of the library. Sure, I buy that idea – if only because the history of libraries shows that we acted first as guards to this knowledge, that the stacks that we are used to did not exist before and that people had to ask librarians to GET books for them, rather than browse.

He then addresses the issue of a separation between librarians and libraries. While libraries are still the storage facility for books and physical materials, librarians have to be knowledgeable about both these physical items and their digital counterparts. As librarians, we can’t just assume that we have to LIVE in a library – we have to be willing to move beyond such relationships and be willing to live everywhere and nowhere.

I think, in the end, we both agree on what we think is the future of libraries – we are no longer just warehouses for books, but a community center as well, a knowledge center, a technology center. While many librarians will bristle at the idea of working in a community/knowledge/technology center, this is the way that information is moving. We have to be able to adapt to a changing information environment and answer the needs of our constituency. If not, then we aren’t really fulfilling our duties as librarians.

Really, what he expresses aren’t new ideas. I think what caused the uproar was that he is a non-librarian bringing up these issues, almost as if he is attacking libraries. He isn’t – shouldn’t we be grateful that the plight of libraries is being addressed by someone OTHER than librarians? Increased visibility and acknowledgment, you know the drill…

Aside: I especially like that he acknowledges that the new library should be a place. I think people forget that one of the best things about libraries is its physicality. While I appreciate the idea of a digital/virtual library, nothing that I have seen can replace the actual design of a library building, the space it occupies, the perspective you gain by sitting in one. Until we develop a platform through which we can replace spatial relations, I think I’ll be a fan of a library building for a while.

Seth’s Blog: The future of the library.

Things I wish people learned in Library School

Similar in vein to a recent presentation done by Roberta Stevens, I would like to present my own list of things I wish were taught in Library School. I’m trademarking this list bitches! (can you even trademark a list?)

1) Find good people to collaborate with. This goes beyond working in groups in class. I find it annoying sometimes to be forced to work with a group, rather than allowing you to choose your groups. However, this doesn’t mean I’m a bad groupmate. I’m fantastic. Well, not always, since I’m kind of bossy and try to take over the group. I only do it for the good of the group/grade! Wait, I’ve deviated too much already – find good people to work with. Out of Library School, I am coming out with a core group of friends who I would love to work with in the future. Some of them, I already work with (in terms of presentations, projects, discussions, idea bouncing, etc.), others I haven’t had the chance but I know I work well with them in a group setting. You have to find that special group of people who trust your ideas, who listen to you and whose ideas you trust as well. It’s kind of rare, but when you find those people…it’s like magic.

2) Look beyond libraries. No, I mean REALLY look beyond libraries. Looking for a job has been really stressful lately. However, I’m comforted by the fact that I have applicable skills beyond just a library/information organization. I can really work in a wide variety of places, doing a wide variety of things. I guess this speaks more towards the mind of the student – if they are getting an MLIS, they WANT a library job. However, I came into SLIS knowing that I did not envision painting myself into a corner and only pursuing library jobs. There are only so many libraries hiring, and exponentially more candidates applying for those jobs. Be willing to work at other places – some places, you might not think you’ll like, but you never really know until you try it out.

3) Look beyond libraries. No, I’m not repeating myself. Okay, yeah I sorta am. But really, look beyond libraries in how you apply the skills you are learning. I don’t mean in terms of jobs,but how your ideas and thoughts affect culture, society, people around you, etc. We learned the history of information science in Libr 200, now see how the changes that are occurring in LIS are affecting adjacent fields. Also, look outside of LIS for ideas on how to innovate LIS. Adapt ideas from other fields, test them out, see what works and if it doesn’t, try a new approach. I came into SLIS with a BA in Math, a BS in Sociology, an AA in Geography, and wanting to apply all of these perspectives on LIS. I haven’t quite found my match yet, but I’m working on it!

4) Put yourself out there. Act a fool. Make yourself memorable. Start a blog and talk about weird things. Tweet about your latest incident with a computer. PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE. I’m all about transparency – I don’t (often) hide things. I think I might have coined a new phrase on Facebook recently: Transparency is the new modesty. It’s true though – with the amount of social networks out there and the various ways people can self-publish, it’s really kind of unheard of to be modest. But at the same time, people look down at you if you overshare or post too much. Well. What is it? What’s the proper thing to do? From my perspective, I would prefer to be transparent-  I’d rather let my feelings out there, let my thoughts out there, than to keep them bottled up. In this way, you can engage others. You can find others interested in what you are sharing. You can NETWORK!

5) Be happy. Really, this is just a life lesson. I don’t think this is something that Library School should teach you, but something that I’ve realized during my time in Library School. It’s really important to be happy. I was in a period when I wasn’t very happy with my options. It really affected my relationships and my decisions. I knew I had to get myself out, so I started doing things that I liked (sometimes to the detriment of my classwork, but really, You Do You – focus on yourself, and the rest will follow). I eventually came out of it, but still…those few months sucked really badly. But now I know that I need to find that thing that makes me happy and I’ll be okay.

Of this list, I think the most important is BE HAPPY. If you’re happy, everything else will really fall into place.

Okay now. Done with being a sap! *tear*

Connecting our ideas through physical hyper-links

There is a beauty to visualizing connections. I sometimes daydream and think of how things are connected and how they flow from one to the other.

However, my daydreams have nothing on this book.

This artist has created a book in which we can trace the connections between words and ideas through a physical thread. Something like this can be so beautiful or disjoint.

Luckily, this project looks beautiful. As it turns out, the book is about dreams and their connections. So there you go! Yet another connection – daydreams to a book about dreams.

Traumgedanken

Technological Companionship

I’m such a child sometimes. I still have my Cabbage Patch doll sitting by my bed (the first one that came out!). I remember running out of the house to go to the nearest toy shop that had a sale on Beanie Babies. Nostalgia for younger days runs through my mind. Such a strange phenomenon to be nostalgic for days that occurred 15 years ago…

Since I’ve stopped playing with these toys, I’ve moved on to a different kind of toy: the Internet. I love the Internet. I can do so many things on it, I can chat with other people, connect with strangers, keep up with friends. SOmetimes, I worry that I am addicted to it. How would my life be different if the Internet wasn’t such an integral part of it? Would I have lost touch with friends? Would my best friend still be my best friend?

Technology is such a wonderful thing – allows us to connect to other and augment ourselves to be the best (or worst) we can be. Given technologies ability to replace almost all previous forms of communication, can we assume that technology could someday replace human contact? Already, people have the opportunity to completely ignore face to face communication and replace it with computer mediated communication (such as IM, email, SMS, etc.)

How outlandish is it to assume that someday robots will replace people as companions? There already is in existence something like this for more…adult companionship. The government is considering creating surrogate parents using robots, to replace parents who are out in the field.

Sherry Turkle has spent years researching the effects of technology of humans. In her latest book, Alone Together, she mentions the fact that we have such a low baseline for recognizing other creatures. If robots have a passing resemblance to living creatures, be it physical features or realistic reactions, we automatically assign it other traits of sentient beings. Is there anything wrong with this? Is it wrong for us to feel connected to a robot or to replace actual contact with humans with robotic/technological contact?

We have to consider the effects of using robots to replicate human connections. I’ve written before about the uncanny valley and honestly, I feel a little uncomfortable at the thought of robots being companions or surrogates. While we may be able to create intelligent AI that allows robots to develop intelligence and thought, we can’t be certain that they will develop emotions and connections. That is the most important thing about human relationships: an emotional connection.

Programmed for Love

No sense of place

I feel a little lost. Though I know physically where I am, I don’t know where I am in the sense of where I really belong.

I love the Bay Area. Having lived here for three years, I’ve grown very fond of it’s people and its quirks. I love the many restaurants that dot the city. I love the bars and it’s eclectic mix of patrons. I love the weather and its annoying ability to change at the drop of a hat. I love it all.

At the same time, I don’t know where I want to be. I’ve lived in California most of my life. I need a change of pace. Moving up here from Southern California was probably the best thing I’ve ever done – the Bay Area is my speed. This is the type of life I want to live. I feel as if my life is incomplete – I haven’t spent much time outside of the state.

Things are weird for me right now. My program is finishing up and I can go wherever I want to for a job. I don’t have a place I want to be, I just have a desire to be.

In this new book about San Francisco, the author looks into our definition of place – not just a geographic location, but the complete sense of it. From the culture that surrounds, to the physical buildings that imprison in, place is defined not only by geography but by society and culture. The relationships we have between people and places.

I’ve often referred to my interest in geography and urban planning as being about SPACE – the physical location we all live in day to day. But maybe what I am interested in is PLACE – the space we live in, along with our networks and connections. This is what information science should look at, our sense of place and it’s connection to information discovery, sharing, creation.

Book Review: ‘Infinite City: A San Francisco Atlas’ – latimes.com.