Albums of 2010

I’m currently listening to Robyns Body Talk. It’s such a great pop album. I want to dance to it all day and night, even when out and about in public (i.e I’m dancing to it right now at Starbucks….). Listening to this got me thinking about what some of my favorite albums of 2010 have been. So here comes that post.

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is easily my FAVORITE album of the year. Hands down, it’s such a great album. I rock out to it at least once a day. Kanye West has crafted a really well thought out, beautifully written and produced album. Each song stands on its own (except for my least favorite – So Appalled). It’s been the album I’ve been looking forward to for most of the year and when it came out, I jumped out and bought it IMMEDIATELY.

The Suburbs by the Arcade Fire felt like a throwback to Funeral, which is my favorite album by them. Neon Bible was good, but there was just something that didn’t rub me the right way about it – it was too electronic if I recall correctly. Plus, the themes presented in The Suburbs are something that I can connect with – the feeling of growing up in the suburbs, just the emotion you feel being there. It’s such a wonderfully feeling album – I love FEELING music.

I’ll probably think of more albums later, but at the moment, these are the three that I am feeling right now.

Fin de Siecle Vienna

One of the best classes I ever took at UCLA was a seminar lead by a German PhD student. I also happened to meet a pretty good friend in that class.

The topic was fin de siecle Vienna – turn of the century Vienna. Given that I took it just after the turn of THIS century, the topic of the class was 1890-1910 Vienna. It was such an amazing class. I loved everything about it – I was introduced to some amazing artists, some awesome ideas from the time, and just great people in the class who were GENUINELY interested in the topic.

I ended up writing a couple of papers on Gustav Klimt and his works. Klimt and other artists like him..there was just something about their use of ornamentation in their work. I’m sure many people are familiar with Klimts “The Kiss” – the image of two lovers at the edge of a cliff, embracing and kissing each other, while wrapped up in gold. Beautifully and totally cliche now – there’s even a LLADRO figurine (which will soon appear on my wedding registry..whenever that happens).

My favorite work of Klimts though is one of his portraits of Adele Bloch-Bauer. There’s just really something beautiful about it. I’m also a sucker for details and obscure things – the outline of her body is shown by the eyes, the movement implied by the lines along her dress, the many eyes on her dress – a reference to Egyptian myth? Ugh. Love it.

Okay BACK on track…I speak about this only because I came across this link to images from 1895, depicting ideals, concepts, events, etc. Some of them are lovely and have a lot of myth and story behind them. I wish I could spend the time cataloging them and figuring out all of the references. This might be a project to do in my (very little) spare time.

There was also just something special about Vienna at the time – it was one of those cities that was so metropolitan for the day and age and could be an incubator for new ideas. While I’ve always been a fan of Europe, something in that class really got me excited to some day visit Vienna, walk around and visit the sites and sights we talked about in class. Some day, I will make it to Europe on my epic backpacking trip. Not sure when, not sure how. But I will.

Source: 1895 Viennese Archetype Images

Modern Masculinity

I don’t really have the correct words to talk about this post. I’ve been pondering it for weeks now and just haven’t come up with what I really want to say about it.

I’ll just try to go all stream of consciousness and see whether or not I am able to produce a logical, intelligent post. Come join me for the fun!

It seems ridiculous to point out the ridiculousness of mens magazines. Being an avid bookstore browser, and an even more avid magazine section browser, I’m very familiar with what kind of material is covered in mens magazines. The content stays the same, month to month. In fact, I remember seeing a post on a blog I follow in which they show that a magazine actually recycled their cover from a few months back.

The types of things you see in mens magazine are just not something any normal man can/should really accept. I’m sorry, but the average man cannot afford the outfit that you have put on that model. Nor can the average man even pull it off. I’m not saying that mens magazines should appeal to the lowest common denominator, but at the same time, they should not idealize what men can wear/do/purchase, etc.

There’s apparently been a trend towards a more touchy feely approach to masculinity, one in which we focus on being a respectable, responsible man. I love this idea. I think it’s gotten to the point where many men don’t act that way – their goal is to just hook up, move from partner to partner, and maintain life in their 20s – as if they are in college still.

I’m not some sage in modern masculinity, but I do feel I’m a pretty decent example. I’m clearly not the most masculine person I know, nor am I the most feminine person I know. I’m that healthy medium, in which I can work in both realms. I cry when things get difficult, but I also tough it out when I need to.

It seems that we have created this ideal of masculinity in which any sense of emotion or sign of supposed weakness is derided. I hate that. I hate that we aren’t allowed to show our weakness, because we fear being mocked. I flaunt my weaknesses sometimes, because I want people to be aware of it and call me out on it. I love criticism (if its constructive).

But at the same time…we can’t accept this new touchy feely form of masculine too much. I think men should still follow what is traditionally considered masculine traits, but at the same time be accepting of what could be considered feminine traits. Work out your muscles! Work out your emotions! as long as you don’t let one thing overcome you.

The end of the Slate article is interesting – essentially, the author feels that by forcing this other ideal, this “new masculinity” of responsibility, loyalty, granola-y stuff, we will engender a hatred and distrust of it. We won’t be creating men who accept these ideals, but rather men who go against these ideals.

Masculinity (and on the other side of the coin, femininity) is such a strange concept. Two social constructs…how do we deal with their ever changing definitions?

Source: Real Men Cry and Do Laundry

Announcement: New Series – Masculinity

Somethings going on…

Almost everywhere I turn to, I see some new post about masculinity and the changes that is transpiring regarding our perception of it. It’s all very exciting to think about.

I’ve been working on this blog post about the new masculinity for weeks, and I just can’t get it written. Mainly because I’ve been trying to incorporate fifty other articles into it. In light of this, I’ve decided to create a new series of blog posts here, specifically addressing masculinity. I’m pretty excited for this. I wonder how long I can maintain this series though. Or if I will retire it someday to start another series.

The main goal of this blog was to have a professional outlet for my thoughts about information science. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. The main focus of this blog will be culture, with aspects of information science and information society sprinkled in. I am a sociology major after all =)

Romanticizing the Road

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook about what sounds like an amazing road trip: Infinite Wanderlust. I immediately got jealous and started thinking of ways that I can go on a road trip sometime.

I’ve always wanted to go on a long road trip, across the country or across different states. The longest I’ve ever driven has been from the Bay Area to Southern California. And trust me, that drive? Not very exciting – full of bland farmland and traffic.

This trip she is taking…just sounds amazing. Cross Country, creating art along the way, exploring the country…man, who wouldn’t want to do that?

After thinking about it for a while, I realized that I was just worshiping this idealized concept of the road trip. I’ve been brainwashed by all of those movies in which people travel across the country to search for themselves or for the meaning of life. I’m at this point in my life where I feel just a little lost and unsure about my future, so no wonder I’m feeling like a road trip could be fun and enlightening.

I’ve often told this to my roommate, but I hate the way that I have attached myself to possessions. Having not yet reached the age of 30, I feel like I should be able to fit all of my possessions into the back of my car and move at a moments notice. As it is, I have so much crap, it takes a van to move me. Really though..how much of my stuff is used daily? My iPhone, my laptop and some clothes. This wanderlust…I think it stems from the feeling that I don’t need to be settled yet. That I haven’t really learned about myself.

This is feeling a little too Eat, Pray, Love. All I want to do is travel a bit. I haven’t had that chance in my life to travel. I made plans to go to Europe with my best friend a few years back, but that fell through when I gave it up to help take care of my dad.

Some day I’ll get to do this. Hopefully I won’t be too old to appreciate it.

Rundown of CLA

CLA was a blast! Especially for a student, it was such a great opportunity to network with professionals! My idea of networking is to act like a goofball so I’m memorable – I walked around Sunday afternoon with my QR code attached to my badge! I even told people to scan me.

Here’s a rundown of the sessions I attended.

Friday:

I ran into someone who loves my blog! And thought I was a great writer. Kind of crazy and flattering at the same time.

Saturday:

Setup my Poster Session, which I should be uploading to my website within a week. It went well, probably would have been nice to have talked to more people, but the people that I did talk to were very interested in what I had to show. They also liked that all of the apps that I showed were ones that I use.

Be the Copyright Expert, not the Cop by George Pilling: http://www.georgepilling.com/copyright/index.htm

Very informative about the do’s and don’ts about copyright issues. One of the biggest things that I got out of it was that if you advise someone that what they are doing is a copyright violation but they still do it, you should make a note somewhere that you had advised them against doing so – cover all your bases to not get in trouble yourself!

Web 2.0: Focus on Achievement by Doug Achterman: http://www.slideshare.net/dachterman/achterman-csla-web20-5770171

While the idea of using web2.0 tools for educational uses is kind of overdone, what was brought up still felt pretty fresh (at least to me, since he integrated a lot of teaching stuff that I never thought about) – like the concept of Into, Through, Beyond. There was an example he presented, in which he used a Google form as part of an assignment – have the kids submit their resource, annotate it, then put it in the form. You then host the form so that it’s visible – similar to what was done with the Anna Karenina project but without using the forums.

Digital Citizenship by Lesley Farmer: http://k12digitalcitizenship.wikispaces.com/

An entire session on how to ensure that students, parents, patrons, anyone use technology appropriately. The resource page is RIDICULOUSLY long and this felt very much in line with what I saw at Internet Librarian about the concept of Transliteracy. I really liked the message of the presentation: engage students in using technology appropriately by getting them involved in documenting the community or using the technology for the benefit of the community.

Saturday night, I participated in this thing called Battledecks, in which our presentation skills are tested against other professionals. As it turns out, I was the only non-professional who volunteered – everyone else has been a practicing librarian for years and have been doing presentations for a long time as well.

Sunday:

Listened to Steven Johnson discuss innovation! Steven Johnson is the author is a book called Everything Bad Is Good For You, about how todays popular culture is actually helping society rather than ruining it.

Take the Helm of Handheld Technology by Jade Winn

This was a great session for someone like me, mainly because I got to hear about firsthand experience regarding mobile reference – answering questions on your web enabled device. GREAT and engaging speaker – mainly a way for me to impress her with my reference/tech skills.

Overall, it was a great experience. Can’t wait to go to ALA this year!

I have two conference proposals to work on…man, I’m becoming a conference addict!

The Perils of Internet Celebrity

It’s hard out there, being slightly famous and known by the Library world. I just have to keep myself grounded, before I let all this fame get to my head…

Wait. What am I talking about? Oh. Right. I’m pseudo famous. Or as I liked saying all weekend at CLA “I’m big on the Internet”

This all started Friday afternoon at the Exhibit Hall at CLA. I was walking around, checking out the exhibits when I heard rumors of a carving station. Being a slave to roasted meat, I went in search.

Roast beef, get in mah belly! Standing in line, I’m chatting with a colleague when out. Of. The. Blue. Someone comes up to me to tell me they love my blog.

I’m sorry. You must have me confused with someone else. And she started telling me about my posts. So. Awesome. I’m glad that others are reading my blog and enjoying it. And that she enjoyed one of my favorite pieces, about idealistic love.

Shoutout to Jill S!

Well, this went straight to my head! I spent the rest of the conference telling people I’m Internet famous (when they talked to me)

Aside from this encounter, I also did this little thing called Battledecks: Click here for synopsis/video. It was kind of awesome-slash-embarrassing. All of the other contenders were library professionals – they’ve been doing this for YEARS. I was the only student who was ballsy enough/stupid enough to volunteer. Well, as expected, I did TERRIBLY but still had major fun. The judges were really nice to me and even gave me a group hug! awwwww.

The video of the hug is not up anywhere; let’s just say I was embarrassed and embraced. (see what I did there?)

The next day, on the exhibit floor, I had so many people come up to me and tell me they saw me at Battledecks! It was crazy! I kinda loved it. I, of course, hammed it up and just acted like a goofball the entire time. I even wore my QR code for the rest of the day, telling people to scan me. That was a great ice breaker, as I ended up talking to so many people about QR codes!

So, like I said, I’m big on the Internet =)

Full CLA rundown will be posted sometime tonight or tomorrow. Expect lots of boring details about sessions, along with a crazy review of the weekend as a whole!

Rundown of Internet Librarian

Internet Librarian was intense.

My friend and I left San Jose around 830-845 am and got there a little before 10 am. Not too bad a drive really, and at least we got to talk about our feelings…and stuff.

Arriving at Internet Librarian…I could FEEL the nerdiness. It was overwhelmingly AWESOME.

I’ll break down the sessions I attended by day.

Monday:

Mobile that works for your library: Interesting, but much of what was presented I already knew about. There was a lot of discussion about webapps vs native apps and things. I probably should have paid a bit more attention but…I’ll explain why I didn’t later on =)

Libraries in a Transliterate, Technology Fluent World: Wasn’t really sure what this was about at the time, but I guess the idea of transliteracy is knowing how to use different media  and that literacy is no longer just about knowing how to read and write, but about using technology appropriately.

“Cryptic Love Letters”-Digital Primary Sources: Unfortunately, what could have been a really great learning experience was marred by the lack of focus on what was presented. I was initially drawn to this presentation because I saw the word “maps” in the description…the presentation devolved to just showing different online repositories of primary sources, rather than discussing what they are, what they could be used for, etc.

Facebook as a Learning Management Tool: This…felt odd. While I’m interested in the idea of using Facebook as an LMS, it just felt oddly incomplete. We were presented with a class taught within Facebook and how you could use Facebook features to emulate an LMS. Unfortunately, one of the speakers…did not feel as if he addressed the topic. Or if he did..it was only tangentially.

Mobile future: Ended up being a discussion of mobile apps and random things. Informative for people who aren’t necessarily into Mobiles.

After Mobile Future, my friend and I went back to our hotel and worked on our presentation. I was super stressing about it because we were nowhere near finished. We got as much done as we could, then went to the Crown and Anchor for an IntLib2010 tweetup.

This ended up being the best part of the day! Meeting other librarian tweeters, seeing them loosen up and sing karaoke and discuss random things. TOO COOL AND AWESOME.

Tuesday:

Worked on our presentation right up until we presented. I was so nervous. My supervisors from work were there to watch me and I was a WRECK.

It went well – I’m always nervous before a presentation, but then when I’m in the middle of it I relax and go with the flow. I’ll post up a link to my notes and slides sometime soon…

After the presentation, I ate a crepe then took a two hour nap in my car while waiting for a friend. Good times 😀

OH! Actually! I interviewed a maps/gis librarian for a project and that was so awesome. I got to learn a bit more about being a maps/gis librarian and I think I would like to go that route somehow…I do have a semi background in GIS and geography.

Overall: #intlib2010 was awesome. The. End.

Can’t wait for CLA, which is in three days (oh hell…I gotta finish my presentation for that still too!!!!)

The uncanny baby valley

I can’t wait for the day when robots and humans will co-exist…or when robots will take over the planet, Matrix-style.

Until that time actually occurs, I’m pretty sure we have nothing to worry about because people in general are still scared. There’s this concept in psychology and robotics (I think those are the appropriate fields…) called the Uncanny Valley. For those unfamiliar and unwilling to click on the link, it’s the concept that as robots/figures/other objects approach the look of a healthy human, the more we feel familiar with it – comfortable, not afraid, not worried about its actions.

However, there comes a point when the other appears TOO human. At this point, our comfort with the other drops…by a lot. It is this drop that is the uncanny valley. Example – a zombie or a corpse appear more human than a robot, but we feel much less comfortable with these two because they are too close to humans, yet very clearly aren’t. It’s interesting to think about how humans feel comfort in the familiar, yet when things are too familiar we recoil.

This can be seen in peoples reactions to things beyond objects. When someone we barely knows acknowledges us at a bar, we don’t really make much about it. However, when they are overly familiar with us – addressing us by name, asking personal questions they shouldn’t be asking, we feel uncomfortable. Odd, isn’t it? You’d think we would feel better that someone is trying to be approachable.

Okay, long detour…lets get back to the robots! Is it well accepted that babies learn best by being socialized? I feel like I read that in some study before….if anything, this study proves it. It appears that some researchers have decided to start training babies to be familiar with their future robot overlords. By getting the child comfortable in their environment, then introducing a robot figure as if it was human, the researchers have been able to convince babies that robots have some sense of intelligence or thought.

If, once again, you are too lazy to click through for the article, here is a brief summary: researchers took babies, half of whom were presented a robot with which the researcher interacted with to make it appear to have sentience, while the other half were presented a robot with whom no one interacted with. The babies were witness of this interaction.

The babies who saw the researcher interact with the robot were more likely to act as if the robot itself was a real person and pay attention to its behavior. For example, if the robot were to look in one direction, the baby was more likely to look in that direction if it saw the interaction.

To me, the most interesting part of the article is that this shows our social judgments/skills can be basically trained, even at a young age. That, and we just need to get babies used to robots, but also to be cautious so that robots don’t get to smart and take us over.

Source: Human or Robot? Ask the baby

This is why I Twitter

There’s something to be said about Twitter. Even though many people don’t get it, they know what it is. You may not really understand its purpose, but you know that people out there are using it and what they are doing on it.

When I first joined twitter, it was mostly because I thought I had found a venue through which I could share my random thoughts of the day, random things that I see, basically anything going on in my day. At the time, my cousin had told me she blocked me on Facebook because I had spammed the shit out of my news feed. I figured, by joining Twitter, I could spam twitter instead of Facebook. PERFECT!

My twitter is now full of random thoughts…but also responses to articles and communication from people I’ve never met. It’s kinda nice to be able to contact people who I’ve never met before and share ideas. It’s interesting that this article points out the cross-cultural exchange, especially over the Trending Topics.

The openness of Twitter is what makes me really enjoy it – I am able to find people with similar interests, see what they are talking about and who they are following and then engage them in conversation online. I also find it a great way to exchange ideas with other librarians and MLIS students. It’s great for community building.

However, the community being built on twitter is unlike anything that can be built in a shared physical space. The exchange of ideas is purely based on the written word – sometimes, communities can be better served by physically being in the same place because of the subtle ways that our bodies communicate and express ideas. I find the concept of rebuilding community online to be extremely fascinating, but I worry that people are placing too much emphasis on replacing real space communities with virtual communities. I’ve often been guilty of this and it’s unfortunate.

Source: Why Twitter Influences Cross-Cultural Engagement

way too much information, all the time