Sunday, January 31, 2010

Protect the Books

All librarians have surely heard of the school that banned a dictionary for containing inappropriate words.

talulahmankiller at Life Under a Rock has also heard of this, and offers an interesting perspective. As she says, "I could rant and rail about how ridiculous this is, but really–we all know how ridiculous this is."

This is pretty much why I haven't said anything. (That, and being too desperately busy with other hugely important things like eating, reading other peoples' blog posts, playing Dragon Age, etc.)

Anyway, that's not the interesting perspective--what I like is that she takes the opportunity to imagine how it happened that it occurred to someone to ban the dictionary, and concludes that some child probably pointed out to a grown-up that they'd found a 'naughty' definition, thus spoiling things for all the other children who might have enjoyed reading it.

Someone told!

There follows an entertaining tale of the author's own childhood experience with telling on a book.

I don't have any similar incident in my history, so this inspired me to reflect on how else it might have happened, which could be that some kids were talking in hushed excitement about the naughty words, and a grown-up overheard. That's what happened when I was a kid.

The naughty books we'd so enjoyed reading, puzzling over, and discussing mysteriously disappeared once my mother realized we'd been reading them.

The lesson: make sure you're not being overheard by the grown-ups before you start talking about that finer points of that weird thing those people were doing in that story.

Or by the other kids who'll tattle on you, of course. Trust no one!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Yes! Grown Up!

I saw on Health Populi a link to this little quiz to assess your "digital age."

The idea, worked out by Wells Fargo, is that proficiency with digital technologies can be broken into categories roughly equivalent to levels of maturity, from "Digital Teens," to "Digital Novices," to "Digital Adults." This is, needless to say, not necessarily related to chronological age.

You could be 12 and be a Digital Adult, or 50 and still a Digital Teen. It's all about how skillfully you make use of those nifty web gadgets we so love.

I managed to get the stamp of a approval as a Digital Adult with 30 points, thanks no doubt to my masterful web fu. Or whatever. I credit Twitter.

Anyway, if you like quizzes, give it a shot.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Latest Catch Phrase

Welcome to Spidertown.
Population: Spiders.

Also you, but not for long once the spiders get you.

This is based upon a certain region of this game we're playing, in which wave after wave of giant spiders keeps coming along and chewing you to pieces (and by 'you' I mean 'my spouse,' since I am personally avoiding that area at the moment).

Yeah, Netflix is currently battling the PlayStation for our attention, and losing.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

No Games for the Wicked

I should mention the news, pointed out to me by a colleague, that the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has rejected a challenge to a ban on possessing materials for playing Dungeons and Dragons in prison.

The ban is based on concerns that the game might “foster an inmate’s obsession with escaping from the real-life correctional environment, fostering hostility, violence and escape behavior,” as quoted in the New York Times, which then dryly observes,

The court, which is based in Chicago, acknowledged that there was no evidence of marauding gangs spurred to their acts of destruction by swinging imaginary mauls, but it ruled nonetheless that the prison’s decision was “rationally related” to legitimate goals of prison administration.

See, I would think that time spent fighting imaginary orcs would be time not spent planning real-world mischief, and thus potentially to be encouraged--but of course I must admit I know next to nothing about prison administration.

It's also demonstrably true that time spent fighting imaginary orcs does not mean there is no time available for other things, such as work, school, socializing, shopping, reading blogs, and most likely planning real-world mischief, so I'm not saying D&D would be the answer to all problems.

It's a start, though!

My first thought, hearing the concern about D&D gangs, was to scoff and say "why don't they just come right out and say that they're banning it because they think this guy doesn't deserve to have any fun?"*

This post at Above The Law, discussing the case with much more legal knowledge than I possess, kind of bears me up. (Also watch out for the classic "only pathetic losers who can't get laid play D&D" lines!--no mention of this topic would be complete without them.)

*My second thought was "when did BADD start running prisons in Wisconsin?"


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Conversing with Multitudes

This doesn't seem to be online at the moment, but there's an article by Clive Thompson in the Feb 2010 Wired called "In Praise of Obscurity" that I found interesting.

He talks about the way that online social networks are great at connecting people and letting them communicate, in some cases allowing for real interaction between, say, artists and fans, but how if one person gets a certain number of fans/friends/followers, the conversation dies out.

He suggests that when one person is talking to a whole bunch of other people, it becomes like broadcasting: you can no longer really expect--and tend not to get--actual conversational responses.

This makes sense when you think about it. It's a sort of scaled up, technology-abled counterpart to face-to-face communication. Thinking about it, I compared it to library instruction (my limited experience with teaching).

If you're showing someone something one-on-one, it's very informal and responsive, and you can solicit (and tend to receive) frequent feedback. "Does this make sense? Is there something else you'd like to know about that database?"

With a few people at a table, say, you have to formalize the presentation a little more, but there's still plenty of space for questions and answers. When you get larger groups into a classroom setting, it's less likely that people will ask questions--maybe they ask the person next to them instead, or maybe they just don't ask at all because they hesitate to interrupt what has to become a fairly formal class.

And once you're addressing a lecture hall or an auditorium, you almost never get any sort of response. If you were talking to, I don't know, a football stadium full of people (has anyone ever done library instruction for a football stadium?), it would only be more pronounced.

At that level every person feels like an anonymous member of a crowd: they know the person speaking can't focus specifically on them, so they don't bother (or feel comfortable) asking for individual attention in the way that a person in a group of 10 might. (And on the flip side, you can invite a response in a small group and, if you let the silence drag out long enough, someone will almost always speak up, due to the pressure of expectation being divided among only enough people that each one can be individually identified...where if you let the silence linger in a football stadium, I imagine you could be out of luck.)

The article suggests that online you can keep the 'personal touch' capability in a social network of more people, up into a few thousands (where a real-time face-to-face conversation involving 3,000 people would obviously be unworkable), but that once you get to several thousands the anonymizing aspects of the crowd kick in and people stop conversing even if they're all technically linked up in the same network.

At that point, I suppose, it makes sense to split into smaller more specially-focused groups again, maybe sub-groups of whatever it was that brought you to the main group in the first place. If it was a network of cupcake aficionados, say, maybe you subdivide into chocolate and vanilla groups, lavishly frosted and simple, etc.

I think we see this happen in all kinds of ways, really. It seems like a part of the way human attention works.

I mean, how many viewers complained about the TV show Heroes having too many major characters to really focus on? (Not just me, right?) To me, anyway, it seemed that the storyline fractured after a while because we never spent enough time with any one character to actually care what happened to them.

There were a lot of potentially interesting characters there, but we didn't get to know them, so we lost interest. And by 'we' I am here speaking for myself and my spouse--we stopped watching it partway through the second season, not because we disliked it but because we couldn't be bothered to follow it anymore. We couldn't maintain interest, essentially.

It also reminds me of how, when I was a kid, I figured out that more toys did not necessarily mean more pleasure in said toys: if you have a lot of something, then it's not as special to you anymore.

I enjoyed my tiny twistie dolls (we always said 'twistie,' although you may be more familiar with the term 'twist tie'), and since we had plenty of materials I had the power to make dozens--hundreds!--but I found that it was more fun to make a few, focus on them, and give them names and personalities and long exciting sagas of adventure.

I could only really focus on (develop relationships with, in social terms) a limited number of them. If I had 300 tiny dolls, how well could I really know any of them? How much energy could I devote to telling and enjoying the individual stories I made up for them?

We just can't care about multitudes of things the same way we care about a select few things. We don't have the energy, or the attention, or the time. So I guess it makes sense that we just can't converse with multitudes the same way we can with a select few (even if that select few, online, might be hundreds or more).

And online conversations can be spread out over time as well as among people. I wonder if that's involved somehow. Maybe we can pay attention to more people a little bit at a time. Anyway, it's fascinating stuff.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Speaking of Free Expression...

I can't wait to make a billion dollars so I can bankroll a politician!

Aunt B at Tiny Cat Pants asks an interesting question about the Supreme Court's January 21 ruling on campaign finance: what if a corporation funds a candidate who then makes a public disgrace of him- or herself? Does that reflect badly on a company that has openly backed this politician?

In the hypothetical example given, where we imagine that Pepsi threw its weight behind John Edwards in the last presidential election, could Coke then capitalize on this with its own ads? Aunt B's suggestion for an ad:

“Be like John. Drink Pepsi. Or be like a decent human being. Drink Coke.”

Incidentally, I think "be like a decent human being" should immediately become a marketing slogan for something. Ideally something that doesn't involve burning women, kids, houses and villages after bein' a litterbug, but I'm flexible. This slogan is powerful enough to cover a multitude of sins.

It doesn't imply that you need to be a decent human being, only to emulate one. A lot of people could relate to that!

That, and license for extremes of behavior.


Thursday, January 21, 2010

What We've Got Here Is...Communication

I was reading my January Library Journal of an evening, and I became inclined to ruminate a while upon the idea of professionalism.

More importantly, there's an argument going on here, and I want in!

John N. Berry says in his editorial, Don't Muzzle Librarians,

It is utter hypocrisy to label any communication—anonymous, ad hominem, or otherwise—as “unprofessional” in a profession for which the primary core value is freedom of expression.

Really? Any communication? Of any kind? In any context? That's a broad, broad statement.

And you know what that kind of broad statement gives us? License! License, good people, for extremes of behavior!

The following immediately occurred to me:

  • So if I start peppering my interactions with med students at the reference desk with random obscenities, that's professional communication?
  • Or, say, what if I decide to start opining about faculty members' choice of research topics with comments like "You're writing about that? You're a total quack, you know that, right?"
  • I might also just derail every conversation about book purchases by talking incessantly about my own awesomeness and/or how hard my life is: this is totally professional?
  • And what if I make a habit of telling the library's users, and some of my favored colleagues, that others of my colleagues are incompetent layabouts (which is not only irrelevant to most users, it's a dirty lie)? Still good?

My boss is going to love this.

I mean, yeah, I get that in a very important way, it's the work of the profession to respect, preserve, and promote access to all kinds of communication. As Mr. Berry continues,

We are justifiably proud of the record of librarians as fervent and effective defenders of free expression. Librarians have upheld and collected obscenity, anarchy, dissent, and certainly every kind of personal attack. This is not “unprofessional,” it is our professional duty.

True, true. I'm all over the freedom of expression. Love it! Defend it! But is it the work of the profession--and thus, professional behavior--to also engage in all kinds of communication?

Not necessarily, I would argue.

Further, this editorial comes after David Rothman apparently said that the Annoyed Librarian blog was "unpleasant" and "unprofessional."

There's nothing detailed in the piece beyond those two words, so I'm not really sure where the 'muzzling' of the title comes in. Perhaps David Rothman has the awesome power to make other bloggers quail and stop typing merely through disliking them. And, I guess, telling other people that he dislikes them.

Which must still be completely professional to do, since it's communication, but is bad because he used the forbidden word "unprofessional." I guess.

I'm also pretty sure the Annoyed Librarian has said worse about someone at some point. Probably many people at many points. That's kind of the AL's thing, if I remember from when I used to read it.

These points, as well as others, are entertainingly covered in this video response from Mr. Rothman. Others have addressed this issue as well: see Agnostic, Maybe for more good points.

I really just wanted to chime in when I recognized the license for extremes of behavior. (I'm telling you, this 'license' theme is a winner for me. I'll make something of it yet.)


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

xkcd Appreciates Libraries

I especially like this descriptive language:

"Libraries are unnerving enough--millions of ideas surrounding you, towering over you."

xkcd comic presented here under Creative Commons license.

Yes! That's exactly how libraries are.

I can't speak to the matter of microSD cards, since I'm unsure if my cell phone uses one or not, but in the spirit of the comic I will express a general awe at the (non-free) information contained within the phone regardless.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Information: Expensive

Some fierce words from Nicholas Carr at Rough Type about the high price of information today.

He argues that while we think there's all this awesomely free info floating around in the air, just waiting to be seized with the merry little fingers of our wireless-internet-capable devices, in fact--

Sorry, sucker. The joke's on you.
Do the math. Sit down right now, and add up what you pay every month for:
-Internet service
-Cable TV service
-Cellular telephone service (voice, data, messaging)
-Landline telephone service
-Satellite radio
-Wi-Fi hotspots
-Other information services

When you think of it like that, yes, I suppose it is a little pricey. I probably pay $120 a month for all those things together.

But...but...we need that stuff! We can't even function without it! (Not literally true. We could function, things would just be a lot different. And somewhat less fun, although it would leave more time for board games.)

I like the idea here that there's more to pay for between us and the content with this new model. In the old days, you go buy your newspaper, or your book, or what-have-you, and then you have your information right there. You don't need the device to read it on, or the maintenance subscription fees to ensure continued access, or the wired or wireless internet to deliver it.

Extra steps means extra costs. (Of course, in the old days you had to have transportation to somewhere you could buy your newspaper, or you paid someone to deliver it, and you always have some cost involved with making light if you want to read it after dark. Nothing is straightforward.)

This further point from the post also struck me:

We begrudge the folks who actually create the stuff we enjoy reading, listening to, and watching a few pennies for their labor, and yet at the very same time we casually throw hundreds of hard-earned bucks at the saps who run the stupid networks through which the stuff is delivered.

Now I feel bad for not buying information and entertainment directly from more people.

And tying handily back into that idea is this post from Samhita on Feministing, asking Would You Pay for the New York Times?

It addresses the rumor that the NYT may be planning to charge for access to their site, and wonders whether it's better for a blogger, say, to continue linking to their stories (to support the Times' reporting), or try to find those stories covered elsewhere in recognition that not all of one's readers can afford (even among those who are willing) to pay for access.

Information not free after all. And another dream crumbles.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Comics: Better than Fun

Interesting post at Book Patrol about a comic book that served as a valuable educational tool for the Civil Rights Movement. It told the story of the Montgomery bus boycott, and explained nonviolent resistance tactics.

As the post explains, comic books made a good choice for spreading the word: "Comics are cheap to produce; lightweight; small in size; easy to disguise, hide or smuggle; and highly disposable."

Few copies of the comic still exist, but there are some in, of course, libraries. Preserve on, libraries. Hang onto the history.

Jessamyn at pointed this out.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Stuff to Read

If you have any time to read, I've been meaning to check out this list of Free Ebooks and Where to Find Them from the blog Paper Not Included.

I haven't gotten around to it, you know, since I haven't even been keeping up with the print reading on my book plate (ha!), but I've meant to.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Gaming Update

Having previously whined about being left out of the larger gaming culture through a lack of video game experience, I am obliged to report that this household now contains a PS3.

So, you know, my complaints could be obsolete soon. If I figure out how to operate the controls. So far I tend to lurch around flailing wildly.

Drunk on life! And technological excitement!


Friday, January 15, 2010

Ooh, Subject Headings!

David Bigwood at Catalogablog passes on the news that the New York Times has added "approximately 5,000 new subject headings to"

These headings "include organizations, publicly traded companies and geographic identifiers" and join roughly 5,000 personal name headings previously made available. This will allow super-awesome subject-based searching of NYT articles.

Since I'm all for subject search capability, this makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

My fuzzy sweater helps, too.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Conference Advise

I would like to pass along the following handy tip from A Librarian's Guide to Etiquette:

Write your twitter name on your ALA Midwinter nametag so that attendees can easily identify fellow library conference tweeters. This will allow for face-to-face tweeting, eliminating the need for awkward eye contact and talking with other humans. #alamw10

Niiiiice. I will not be doing this myself because I'm not actually going to ALA Midwinter (I'm just here for the pre-conference), but it sounds like a good way to solve that irritating eye contact problem.

Another thing I find helps with that is to sit in a corner with my computer, reading and writing blog posts.


Lunchtime Notes

I'm on lunch break at the Association for Library Collections and Technical Services pre-conference before ALA Midwinter, and so far I have learned the following things:

  1. Gee whiskers, I wish I'd had a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics)-focused education! I'm sort of lurking on the edges of the science world as an English major in a medical library (I have no idea what you're talking about!--but I can find some information on it for you), and now I feel as if I've missed out.
  2. I feel a strong desire to get into the Gaming in Libraries trend (largely because I want to play games), but need to think about how to make it work for our particular audience. (I didn't actually just learn that, I've known it for a while.) Also, I think of myself as a gamer, but since I've mostly done pencil-and-paper roleplaying games, I'm not really part of the larger gaming culture in the U.S., in which video games rule. I feel as if I've missed out.
  3. These delicious clementines plus a scone I saved from the breakfast array makes a perfectly good lunch that I don't have to go outside for. Nevertheless, I feel as if I've missed out...on spending money. Not all missing out is bad.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wandering Somewhen

I enjoyed this Respectful Insolence post about time travel (answering another post at Aardvarcheology), inquiring how well someone would do if dropped in a familiar city with no money or ID, 500 years ago, or 300 if we're in places that didn't have extensive cities 500 years ago.

There are lots of interesting answers in the comments, with some people coming up with practical plans to advance the sciences, and some others concluding that they would just immediately catch plague and die of general uselessness.

I'm going to put myself in the latter camp, having no very transferable skills. I mean, I'd say I could try to advance library science using the awesome bits of MARC Bibliographic that I manage to retain from one day to the next, but I doubt that society would be hanging anxiously on my words (especially since book-learnin' was not exactly admired in womenfolk back in the day). In all likelihood I'd just succumb at once to whatever flu was going around.

Or, as several commenters suggest, be executed as a witch.

I do have nice strong teeth for 300 years ago, but I don't know how far that would get me, beyond assuring that I could chew the food of the day.


Monday, January 11, 2010

Speaking of Body Temperature

--which I was a while ago, I went to give blood this evening, and once they managed to find a temperature (they couldn't get a reading at first), it was only 97.2.

It's chilly out, and I keep saying I'm cold blooded. This may serve as valuable evidence for my contention that I possess reptilian features.

Also, when they tell you to make sure to hydrate well before going to donate...just do it.

I absent-mindedly forgot about the appointment until later in the day and didn't really get to drink a lot of water, and I barely managed to finish the donation. I hate to go through that whole screening and needling process and not be able to provide a viable pint of blood, so this would have been very disappointing.

As it was, I was the last donor in the place, and they were packing up the tables and equipment as I was lying there trying to think relaxing, bloody thoughts. It took three people adjusting the needle, but in the end my reluctant vein came through.

Nice work, vein!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cover History

As a onetime player of the game, I was excited to see this Sociological Images post on the covers of the various editions of the Dungeons and Dragons Players Handbook over the years. (D&D PHB, if you want to get concise.)

The post documents the evolution of the cover images, from a simple picture of a guy with a sword on a rearing horse, through colorful demons and bold adventurers, to a nifty "mystic tome" look with 3rd edition, and back to dramatic humanoid figures with the current 4th edition version.

There's an interesting conversation in the comments about whether the clothing of the current cover's female adventurer (the first woman to appear on a PHB cover) is absurdly skimpy, or actually pretty good given some of the more ridiculous conventions for women's garments in fantasy game/novel/artwork history (the chain mail bikini being perhaps the most notable example).

My take is, yes, the clothes are goofier than I like to wear when I fight monsters in dark caves, but also yes, compared to some of the outfits I've seen on female characters, they're almost practical. Progress!

Also, these pictures make me wish I were playing D&D right now. Curse our lack of a steady group.


Saturday, January 9, 2010

Speaking of Social Networking...

...and personal presentation on the web in general, the good folks at Common Craft have a video about how to guard your online reputation. For this reputation is a precious thing!

Just think before you post, is what we're saying. That movie of you breaking into a daycare, emptying the piggy bank and pouring shots of moonshine for a group of wide-eyed toddlers will come back to haunt you.

I know it haunts me.

iLibrarian saw this first.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Tell No One

Interesting article in the New York Times (via Double X) about the difficulties of severing contact with former boy- or girlfriends after a breakup, in the bold new age of social networking.

We've probably all heard by now about the strange awkwardness of breaking up with someone by changing your Facebook status to 'single,' and become somewhat familiar with the way that social networking, like a small town, can ensure that everyone in a circle of friends knows everyone else's business.

I can see how this would add layers of complexity to already difficult circumstances, and it's of modest but not pressing interest to me.

The part of the article that does surprise me is the line "Sharing passwords to e-mail accounts, bank accounts and photo-sharing sites is the new currency of intimacy."

Hm. I am dubious. Do people really do this? Just say, 'here are my email passwords--check it out'?

By this standard, I am without intimacy in my marriage. I share my passwords with no one. No one!

Not even for little things like Hulu or Amazon. My passwords are mine alone. Sometimes I sit in my room turning them over and over in my mind and hissing "my preciousssssss."

Then I make a swallowing noise in my throat. It's just so delicious.

Granted, this privacy would become problematic if I died suddenly. My online bank account would be troublesome to access. Good luck straightening out the details of my retirement accounts and so forth. And if you wanted to gather some of my photos from Picasa, go through my half-written fiction, try to assemble the details of what I was working on so you could finish my important e-book cataloging project, well, that would be tough too.

Start guessing!

Anyway, I don't know. Do my spouse and I have a sad and distant relationship, with our separate social networking accounts and secret passwords?

That's what you call a rhetorical question, I guess, since I'm not particularly interested in changing things even if someone tells me the answer is "yes." I just find the idea of sharing that kind of information a little weird.

But I know different people have different levels of comfort, and if someone else thinks it's totally cool to swap Facebook passwords with their significant other, and finds it a little weird that I huddle in the dark clutching mine close to my chest as if they could save me from the harsh grip of true intimacy, well, as long as they're not married to me (and as far as I know they aren't), it's no concern of mine.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cupcakes: No Laughing Matter

As one who is fond of both games and delicious sweets, I must recommend to you (even as it was recommended unto me by WWdN) the magnificent 100 Games Cupcake Game at the Steelhead Studios site.

You will see 100 terrifyingly* elaborate cupcakes representing games of all sorts: card, board, dice, video, arcade, roleplaying and more (how would you classify Jenga?). You can try to guess which game each cupcake represents, and quickly see whether or not you're right with a nifty little mouseover move.

Several of the games shown were completely unfamiliar to me, and many more I'd heard of but never played. I'm fond of games, but alas, it seems we don't really know each other that well.

Speaking of games, I was very pleased over a short New Year's vacation to spend a lot of time playing some. We played Settlers of Catan, Wiz War, Ticket to Ride: Europe, and Bang! 

One of those has a cupcake dedicated to it. Go find out which one.

*I am terrified by nominally edible things that impress me so much I would hesitate to eat them.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Or We Could Just Stay Home

Now that it's plenty snowy and slushy and the Boston winter is well underway, I can be especially interested in the idea of snow management on roads. Having travelled to Finland in the winter, Ian Sacs at Planetizen (via Tom Vanderbilt at How We Drive) tells us that,

It seems that aside from limited access highways and some primary arterials, the Finnish standard for snow tretment is to plow to a reasonable depth, but not worry too much about an inch or two of snow base layer covering streets.

He reports that drivers handle these snow-covered streets by going very slowly and carefully, and wonders whether slow, cautious driving over half-cleared streets might not make more sense, in some ways, than continuing to drive as if the streets were dry all year round when they may actually be slick enough to make this dangerous.

I think it would be pretty hard to convince people in the U.S. that taking the kind of time required to drive slowly and carefully on the way to work everyday would be a reasonable trade-off for much of anything (we need to get places, darn it!)

I might favor this plan, though, if it meant I could just hole up and sleep all winter!

But alas, that never works out as well as it seems like it would. You have to get food, after all. At least until we learn to hibernate properly.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Textbook Truths Revealed

You may be entertained by this Got Medieval post revealing the truth about how professors select textbooks for their classes.

Apparently it is not usually because they get mad kickbacks from publishers for selecting the most expensive and annoying texts, but it is riddled with complications, pain and sorrow.

This reminds me of an interesting post I read somewhere about libraries and textbooks, where someone (apologies to that person, I cannot find that post now) was arguing that all those students who hope to check their textbooks out of the library should really direct their energy in another direction. I remember a line something like "it's not our job to provide every textbook on your reading list!"

I think the idea there is that it's not really the library's business to provide students with the texts assigned for their classes: it's more the library's business to provide access to a wide variety of other texts that students might be interested in or find useful for their studies, but not be able to readily purchase at the bookstore. The library should expand upon the bookstore's offerings, then, rather than simply stock up on everything that's being used for every class.

Assuming any student has time to be interested in a book that's not assigned reading, of course. I remember, with a certain mild level of fondness, checking out piles of books for papers a few times when I was in college, but certainly most of the time you use the texts you've been assigned. I mean, that's what they're teaching, right?

Anyway, if you have any need to buy textbooks, just know that everyone is suffering on all sides of the problem.

"Is that supposed to make me feel better?" I picture you asking.

No. It's supposed to make me feel better, because I don't have to buy textbooks. Oh, wait, 'collection development' basically means I have to buy textbooks for the library. I probably won't be able to get everything you need for every class, either. Noooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

Now I feel bad too. OK? Let us all be miserable together.

That's what you call an old-fashioned fairy tale ending.


Sunday, January 3, 2010

TechNews of the Decade

This post from Forbes, linked on Stephen's Lighthouse, has some interesting comparisons of technology use over the past ten years.

For all the discussion of the death of email among the youth of today (and I myself know young people who really don't use it much), there were still 247 billion emails sent in 2009, compared to 12 billion in 2000. No word on how many of those were spam. My guess: about 200 billion last year.

I was also interested to see the figure for the amount of hard drive space you could buy for $300: 20-30 gigabytes in 2000, and 2,000 gigabytes last year.

Speaking of hard drive space, I must pause to exalt the glory of inexpensive, tiny little memory sticks. Truly a wondrous innovation. Love 'em.

Also note the estimated 300 million daily Google searches in 2009, compared to 10 million in 2001.

So basically what we learn here is that use of computer and internet technology continues to grow. More! Cheaper! Faster!

Keep it coming, 2010.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

2010 Pressing Health Issue

Happy New Year, everyone, but I regret to say that already I have health concerns to report.

I've just made it back from a trip west, and my ears feel all plugged up from the air travel. I've tried forced yawns, nose-blowing, etc. They still seem to be stuffed with cotton.

The things we endure to get from one place to another in a timely fashion.