It’s National Library Week.
I don’t watch a lot of television until about 10pm. Really, it’s rare that there’s anything worth watching until 10pm.
I know some of you out there will disagree, saying something like “But CSI: Forgotten Pedophile Investigation is on at 8pm”. Well, let me break this news to you. If you like that stuff, you need to hang yourself. Seriously. CSI? Ever been to a police station or any other kind of government office? Guess what…
They don’t look space-age. The “crime lab” at your local police station doesn’t look like the control room of the Time Tunnel. If your pre-10pm hours consist of watching CSI, Bones, or the latest “fat guy with hot wife” sitcom, I respectfully (not really) suggest that you may want to begin living your life — immediately.
Don’t get me started on Glee.
Last night I watched an episode of the Twilight Zone that I had never seen before, the Obsolete Man, starring the great Burgess Meredith. If you don’t know who Burgess is because you are young, or older but stupid, click that link and begin to improve your cultural literacy. A quick summary of the summary you will find on the link above – Burgess plays a librarian in a totalitarian state, and he is condemned to die — live on television (thank God there’s still TV in the future!) — because he has been found to be “obsolete”. However, he manages to turn the tables on the State, by involving and humiliating the Chancellor of the State, demonstrating the superiority of intellectual freedom. Awesome.Being a librarian myself, I of course immediately dug this show. While perhaps “the State” hasn’t gone full-bore into the killing of librarians, we do fight an almost constant battle against the powers of stupidity. From ignorant, pig-like, illiterate Tea Party types trying to starve valuable public services of operating funds, to psychotic religious fanatics trying to ban books from library collections because they fail to mention Jesus on every page, your friends the Librarians fight the good fight every day. Coming to work every day, it is easy to forget that as a librarian I am part of an ancient profession, one that matters and makes a difference. So I loved this episode of the Twilight Zone. So bad ass. The man of learning in intellectual/spiritual victory over the efforts off the totalitarian conservative buttholes. And it was bad ass! Burgess, in the role of librarian Romney Wordsworth, DOMINATES the situation.
We librarians just forget how f’ing bad ass it is to do what we do. You know that poor kid growing up in the conservative religious “Ned Flanders” house who comes into your library? The library is the only place that kid is exposed to information that isn’t Fox News/Pat Robertson propaganda!
All of this got me thinking about the great librarians of fiction. My favorite is Dr. Henry Armitage, chief librarian of Miskatonic University, from H.P. Lovecraft’s “the Dunwich Horror“. Armitage not only saves the whole town from some Cthulhu devastation, but likely saves the whole world! Kick Ass!I like to think of religious and political conservatives, tea-baggers, and the other mental-midgets of our society as our equivalent of the slobbering, shambling, slimy, mindless, abominable horrors of the Lovecraft universe. Every time we defeat those fetid, reeking, semi-sentient masses of vomitus-like humanoid flesh, we are saving the universe. We save our planet and the universe one mind at a time. It’s a fight worth fighting.
Just discovered a site and twitter account called LibPunk. Cool. Will have to check it out. Saw it on a person’s messenger bag.
Nearly every year I attend the Internet Librarian conference, in Monterey, California. I go out a few days early and do some skateboarding and chill-time with friends out there.
First stop (after jumping from DFW-Los Angeles-Monterey, Californa and renting a car) will be Mill Valley, California, home of my good friend Dale and his neighbor Sammy Hagar (a.k.a. the Red Rocker). Will Sammy make an appearance? Only time will tell. Weather permiting, Dale and I will sample the skateparkish delights of that fine region. Sunday I’ll head down to Mountain View, California and Rengstorff Park, for freestyle skateboarding with the great Gary Holl and Wally Sueyoshi.
Monday, October 25, is the beginning of the Internet Librarian conference. Besides being a great conference to attend, there is a small skatepark about a mile from the hotel. Now, evenings in Monterey can get rather damp when the fog rolls in, quickly coating the skatepark’s smooth surfaces in disaster-bringing moisture. But if it is dry outside, I usually try to get out and skate in the evening. I also try to do at least a couple of dine-arounds with fellow conferencers, and maybe watch the World Series if it’s on (it was a few years ago).
Not that I have anything particularly insightful to say about it, but flickr.com has become a very powerful research tool for this librarian. Sometimes you just don’t know what you are looking for until you see it. Lately I’ve been researching sustainable/green technologies for homes, and being able to browse through millions of images to gather information is really helpful.
I’m also blown away by the diversity and niche-ish-ness available from the various groups on flickr. For example, today I happened upon this group devoted to pens. Yes – pens. Good pens. Some really nice photography from the pen freaks. Makes me want to go buy a new pen.
Try as I might, I just can’t get into social bookmarking/tagging. I have tried using del.icio.us, and digg, but I can not dig the deliciousness of either. I try to add appropriate tags to my blog posts, but that is it.
I’m not sure why. I like them. I think they are cool. But I just don’t use them.
Looking forward to the upcoming Internet Librarian conference. Also looking forward to seeing and skating with friends in northern California.
Visits to this blog increased from an average of about 50 a day to over 170 — and the day is still young — since Steven Cohen put up a link to the Google Reader vs. Bloglines story yesterday.
People read Steven’s blog. Gotta remember to suck up to him more.
UPDATE: Now it is up to 268. THANKS STEVEN! It is now time to publish Bibliosk8er’s Manifesto!
UPDATE: Now up to 328. Note to self: piggybacking on someone else’s popularity, while frowned upon in high school, works well on the interwebs.
I’ve had a bloglines.com account for some time now. Honestly, I haven’t used it that much, but I do think it is useful from time to time. For those who don’t know, among other things, bloglines.com allows you to aggregate posts from any site with an RSS feed, and read/link to the posted items from bloglines.com, rather than having to check lots of sites every day. In other words, if you read lots of news sites, blogs, etc., you check one spot instead of dozens.
At the Computers In Libraries conference last week, Steven Cohen sung the praises of the Google Reader — Google’s RSS reader. Since I’ve seen him speak at several conferences and he’s never given me bad advice, I checked out Google Reader.
As usual, Steven is right. Google Reader is cool. But first, let me tell you what is STILL good about bloglines.com :
So, what is so great about Google Reader?
As you can see, Google has included a lot of social networking tools within Reader. I think this is what bloglines was missing. They both allow you to aggregate information for your own use, but Google Reader has added the ability to share that info with the group.
Anyway, pretty cool.
Do I want the extra functionality? Probably. Do I want to sign over more of my online activities to Google? Maybe not. Will I continue to ask questions like this and then answer them? Most definately.
UPDATE: I added a link to my shared matrial from Google Reader over in the sidebar, under bibliosk8 stuff.
Next week I’ll be at the Computers in Libraries conference, in Arlington, VA. Looking forward to an interesting few days full of new ideas. I’ll be blogging it, in full nerd attack mode.
I think they are a little late noticing this, but I guess it is good. Thing is, you can’t judge a book by its cover. I have worked with some older librarians who were incredibly smart, talented, versatile, and cool. Like my former boss – older than 60 — who speaks multiple languages with great fluency, has 3 Masters Degrees, and can write actual computer code in circles around me. Or my boss now, who is a great painter. You know, you really don’t need to have a nose ring or tribal tattoos on your face, eh? Case in point: yours truly goes to work everyday in his plain clothes — but look what I can do:
But all my 42 year-old old skater bitching aside, rock-on, hip edgy librarians. The image did, indeed, need updating. That fact is attested to by the use of the “shushers” in the title of this NYT article. Every generation likes to take what it is doing and put its own “stamp” on it. I don’t know many old skateboarders that don’t love to laugh about the lack of “style” in newschool skateboarding, but you know, there’s still style there. Just a different style.
Here’s a story from Salon.com’s techie section, about Flektor, a new web-based video/media editing application (free). Pretty neat. Watch his little movie to really see it work.
Thanks to my supercool wife for this link.
Hosting a site on a free service like WordPress.com has some advantages. For one thing, they really keep the blogging software up to date, with constant improvements, new widgets, etc. You never have to lift a finger to upgrade. The problem is that you are limited as to disk space, bandwidth, etc. This is why this blog is not run on WordPress.com – I wanted to go beyond the services that WordPress provides for free. I have a rented server account with Dreamhost.com, on which I can host as many domain names as I need, with tons of bandwidth and storage.
I recently started a new skateboarding blog called “concretelunch.net“. I plan on using a lot of photos and videos on the site, which will require both disk space and bandwidth. I purchased the domain name, but I’d rather host the blog — which will be the “homepage” — for free on WordPress.com. At the same time, I want to use my Concretelunch.net domain name (so I can just refer to “concretelunch.net”, rather than “wordpress.concretelunch.com”) and also use that domain to host and serve large files, run other applications, etc.
Here is a nice way to make it all work. I set up the blog on WordPress.com. Then on my server, under the domain concretelunch.net, I deleted the existing index.html file, replacing it with index.php . The index.php file contains only the following code — a simple redirect to my WordPress.com blog:
header( ‘Location: http://www.yoursite.com’ ) ;
Even though I have a fairly active online life, and an active “real” life offline, I have no desire to get started on Second Life. Seriously, I didn’t even know about it until the Internet Librarian last year, which I guess shows that my nerd powers are decaying, but I didn’t.
For those who don’t know, Second Life is an online virtual world in which you assume a Second Life, errr…life…, and then you proceed to do things in that virtual world. I guess you can get a job in Second Life, rob banks, kill people, steal, do good deads, or whatever. Actual real-world financial transactions have started happening because of Second Life events. Weird. Amazing, but weird. Well, I guess it’s not super weird. People who are really into fantasy role playing games, both the on-paper and online kind, probably experience the same kind of thing.
There’s even a group of Second Life librarians who have set up reference service within Second Life. The theory, as it goes, is “meet the user where he/she is”. If the users are mostly living in Second Life, you can meet them there and serve their information needs there.
I have to say, from a purely academic viewpoint I’m sorta fascinated by this whole thing, but man, I have a lot going on in the real world. Websites to run, skateboarding and Aikido to do, a cool wife to have lots of actual fun with, parents to enjoy, nieces and nephews to entertain, etc. I also already have a real world job which I like a lot, but shit — why would I want a job in Second Life? I don’t need a second life.
If I can’t have full-on super powers, I’m just not interested. Telekinesis, Heat Vision, Total Invulnerability — you know — real powers and a cool costume.
OK, I’m rambling. I’m not criticizing the Second Life people/afficianados/addicts, or whatever they are. I just don’t quite get it. Oh well. More on this topic when I am more rested and less prone to ranting.
A little lunchtime blogging.
In 1999, when I created bobstricktips.com, bandwidth was expensive, few people had broadband, fewer people had camcorders, there were not really any free video hosting services on the web, computers didn’t come with video editing software, and blogs (as they are known today) didn’t exist.
Until this year, my site got about the same traffic every day and every week, regardless of my infrequent updates. This year my traffic took a huge hit. Why?
I have some theories. First, almost every computer you purchase now – especially Macs – comes with good video editing software. Almost every family seems to have a digital camcorder. So it is easier than it has ever been for any skateboarder to create a pretty cool video. I’ve seen videos by kids with virtually no training that look nearly as good as a professional job.
But once you have a cool video, how do you share it? In 1999, you needed your own website. There was no YouTube.com to slap your stuff into. And if your video content was popular you needed massive bandwidth, which at the time was expensive. BTT was pulling about 9 gigs a day of bandwidth at one point, which is a lot for a one-man show. Youtube has solved the problem for the average web-user.
But YouTube has gone beyond simply supplying bandwidth and storage space — it has created a social-network/search mechanism. Not only can you put your videos there, but if they are good you have an instant audience. Pretty neat. My own experiment with social networking involved putting a phpBB bulletin board on BTT, but after over a year I removed it. The quality of the conversation detracted from the overal quality of the site.
Back then it was even a little harder to create a website. You had to get an account with and hosting service, get your domain name, create the site, and upload it. You might even have to know — GASP — HTML.
Now free services like this (wordpress.com) allow anyone with two functioning brain cells to create a site, have a domain, upload images, link directly to Youtube videos and other content — pretty much without knowing any HTML or CSS at all. Perhaps best of all, WordPress takes care of controlling comment-spam for you, keeps the software updated, adds new features, etc. Amazing. If your are a photographer, you can upload photos to a Flickr account with the same kind of built-in social network. With the nearly global change to digital cameras, you don’t even need a scanner.
So when I look at the traffic decrease at BTT in the last year, I can’t help but think that all these factors have come into play. And that’s really OK. I built BTT to teach some basics of skateboarding and it continues to do that very well. Everyone has a limited amount of time, and as the marketing people might say, there is just more competition for the same number of eyeballs now.
For me, if I want my traffic back, it means I’ll have to provide more than a kid with a camcorder and a YouTube account. I’m not sure what that is. Longer, better quality videos? Probably. I kept my videos short back then because bandwidth was expensive and connection speed was slow. Neither of those conditions applies anymore. whoisadamcolton.com, a site run by Adam Colton, contains great videos — high quality, long, well-thought-out, and entertaining. A site developed under the current conditions, unlike BTT.
I guess this is all a long way of saying I have been sitting on my lazy ass while my site slowly fades to obscurity. The question, I think, is whether it is worth my time to really re-invent BTT or leave it there, serving its original purpose, and move on to a more modern web-project.