Category Archives: Blog

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

Idealistic love

Sometimes, I’m so glad I was never this idealistic. I never once thought that I would find “The One” on my first time out. I never lived a fantasy life in my head of traveling and idealizing things that I had no real idea about.

It’s interesting to now be writing about this article, after reading/writing about how homophobia hurts straight men. I’ve always wondered what people think of when they read books by the Lost Generation, that generation of the grew up during WWI, affected by the war. From my understanding, this was essentially a generation who lost their youth – having had to serve in WWI or at least witness what was going on.  It’s not about a carefree lifestyle, but rather a general disaffection towards society and societal norms. Expats in France are what we traditionally think of when we think of the Lost Generation. Their disaffection comes off as being aloof and romantic – moving from place to place without any worries.

To bring it up to modern times, they are a little bit like hipsters – mobile, untethered lifestyles, attempts to be at the forefront of culture. However, the Lost Generation has a reason behind their attitude. To witness something of the scale of WWI can severely affect anyone – they are firsthand witnesses to the effects of war, be it losing a loved one or fighting in the war itself. Their response is to live life to the fullest – to experience things that they haven’t before and may never get to.

I’m unsure about their thoughts on love. Do they take the same approach to love as they do with their careers and experiences? Do they jump from one love to another, wanting to experience as many different versions of love as possible? I would think they would drag the love of their lives to everywhere they go, ceaselessly jumping from job to job, country to country. This is such an idealistic lifestyle – nothing can really come out of it.

I feel that we have an innate need to settle down sometimes. I don’t mean the American dream of the white picket fence and the the 2.5 kids and dog. But that we all feel that urge to have some normalcy in our lives. At this point in my life, I don’t think I can deal with permanency. I love the idea of being able to pack up and leave at a moments notice. I hate that I’ve tied myself down to items – I’m such a materialistic person and it makes me feel terrible. I idealize the technomads for what they do, but can’t really imagine myself doing that.

Perhaps later on in my life, I will get that urge. I will feel the desire to settle down with a loved one. It could happen soon, it could happen later. Right now? I’m just trying to live life…Everything’s gonna be okay….

Source: Would Hemingway Cry?

The backlash against things not considered “masculine”

It’s funny to read this article – I just finished reading a book called American Nerd, in which there was a section describing why there is such hatred towards the nerd and what Americas reaction towards the nerd was like in the early part of this century. The backlash against the nerd was that nerds in general behaved in a way that was non-traditionally masculine, eschewing things like sports, physicality, grunting (kidding!) – things we think of when we think of JOCK. It was almost as if Nerds were launching an attack on the American male, and so the JOCK and the persecution against nerds started.

The concept of intimacy between men is not always about a sexual nature. There are cases in which men are close to each other and show intimacy by being friends and caring for each other. One can see this still in Korea, where men can be seen holding hands and actually showing emotions. This was the norm apparently in America before the 20th century.

Think of America, pre-Industrial Revolution. People were moving from the farm to the city, losing the supposed masculinity of working on a farm. To many people, this meant that men were become sissies. I guess that showing emotions was okay for men pre-Industrial Revolution since they were also doing hyper masculine things on the farm. However, they lose this identity when they move to the city and become urbanized. The backlash against non-masculine ideals becomes stronger because they are no longer balanced by farm work. Men are discouraged from acting in anyway unmasculine, or else their masculinity will be called into question.

This is getting a bit long winded, but I guess my point is that homophobia is hurtful to everyone. For gay people, it hurts because of the general stigma against homosexuality, leading to gay bashing, suicides, depression, etc. For straight men, it discourages anything that could be construed as homosexual behavior. This doesn’t mean intercourse or even anything remotely sexual. This includes what has been traditionally thought of as feminine ideals – such as showing emotions, physical affection, etc.

Source: Homophobia Hurts Straight Men Too

Slacktivism: I’m too lazy to care

As much as I’m a fan of social networks and social media, I think to say that they are a major push for change and reform in society is a bit much.

There are some things that people can argue about social media, and I would support their statements:

1) Social media brings awareness to people that would normally not be aware of world events. To use Gladwells example – Save Darfur. I remember seeing this campaign/statement everywhere when I was in college. Mainly though, I saw it on the Internet, on peoples Facebook pages. When I saw it in real life, it was usually tied to an event organized on Facebook. But, as Gladwell claims, liking something is not the same as supporting it. Yes more people are aware of the situation, but they don’t really do anything about it or make their voice heard.

2) Social media is a great way to organize events, specifically rallys and such. You are able to get a message out to lots of people at the same time, and to get people to attend.

While these two things really are what I think of when I think of the power of Social Media for change, there is still something to be said about real human interaction.

Gladwell brings up a very good point in saying that “the risk-free kinds of relationship that technology promotes are the antithesis of genuine complex human interaction.” I don’t know if people really think that online interaction is in any way shape or form similar to actual human interaction, but I feel that some people rely on it way to much. I know I do. I mean, look at me. I’m on facebook and twitter interacting with people I’ve never met! I’d rather hang out with them in person, but unfortunately, we live so far apart that’s not a possibility.

I just think it makes people feel good to “like” some cause, because they feel they are getting the word out…but how about you actually do something about the cause instead of just liking it?

Source: Twitter and Facebook cannot change the real world, says Malcolm Gladwell

A fractal/recursive social network

Today’s announcement of a modified Groups feature brought out my latent mathiness (the concept of recursion/fractals)  with this thought – that Facebook is now opening up…a Facebook.

From my understanding of Groups, it will be a closed social network that you can invite subgroups of your friends to, kind of what Facebook was like in the beginning. Great and hopefully useful feature.

However, some points:

1) It’s a nice feature because then you can create subject specific groups. In my case, it would probably be Family, Library Dorks, Grad School, Work

2) If your goal is to communicate to specific groups, then yay. If your goal is to exclude people, then boo. If you have to exclude people, why did you add them in the first place?

The Mashable article makes the point that I wanted to make – why is there a need to cloister ourselves inside Facebook? It’s probably because we have added people we don’t want to interact with and now, through a lack of regulated social media etiquette, we don’t know what to do about them. Do we delete them? Do we block them? Do we hide them? Will they know?

Source: Groups feature is the new Facebook