I’ve decided two things. One Charleston is lovely no matter what the weather, in November (I imagine it must get about as humid as a stanky armpit but right now it’s very nice). Yesterday was overcast and today was bright and beautiful.
So, of course, I was trapped inside most of the day doing what people like me come to Charleston in November to do.
And the other is that I just don’t like large groups of people. Sitting in a room with a thousand other people makes me feel very stressed, even if what’s going on is interesting.
Anyway, I spent most of the day listening to people fret about or be in complete denial about the death of the library. This was actually of some relief to me, because it means we’ve moved on from the death of the book, and sitting around talking about the death of the book just depresses the hell out of me.
We started out the day listening to Pat Schroeder try to frost a turd and tell us it’s cake in regards to the whole Google settlement. There’s no sense in going into the whole thing here, but, as I told the charming British gentleman sitting to my left, it’s very cool, I just hate how Google went about it, and Google made out like a bandit at the end of it.
When will I be laughing like a bitter hyena? When the University of Michigan library and other libraries who participated in this wholesale theft of intellectual material come to understand that, by giving all their collection to Google, there’s no reason for students to come to the library any more.
At least Google, in order to appease us, has to provide some way for people to buy books. I don’t see anything in the settlement that will force people to go to the library.
Hope it was worth it.
Whew. I’m apparently still a little bitter.
Anyway, if I had to sum up for you a lot of stuff you don’t care about, most academic libraries are not only trying to convert their conventional collections to digital, they’re also beginning to grapple with all the kinds of communications scholars do which contributes to scholarly or intellectual discussion which happen only electronically and whether and how libraries have an obligation to preserve and catalog and curate things like emails, blogs, text files, discussion board discussions, etc.
It kind of tickles me, I must admit, to imagine the scholar of the future, who is, say, studying Tanglethis’s scholarly output and who somehow pieces together that said scholar was also a blogger called Tanglethis who sometimes commented on Tiny Cat Pants, which scholar of the future stumbled across in her university library’s digital archive.
Hello, scholars of the future! The weather is lovely today, back in the past. I hope this sentence finds you well.
But the thing that’s stuck with me all day is that we had a big discussion about whether libraries and publishers could serve to provide some “branding” (got I hate that term, but let’s roll with it) to information on the internet, whether there could be something–along the lines of a creative commons license–that would signal to readers that this information was useful and could be counted on.
I think that’s an interesting thought experiment, but the thing I thought was really interesting is that the speaker acknowledged that there is a large gap when it comes to speaking authoritatively–that on one side you have people who expect words of value to come formally written, meticulously revised, and peer-reviewed and often, in print; and on the other side, you have people who expect words of value to come from people who speak from the heart, informally, and with an almost shocking level of transparency.
In the former case, the important brand is then the institution’s–either the institution the person is with or the institution the person publishes with, but in the latter case, the important brand is the person’s individual brand, which can then confer legitimacy on ideas and institutions.
I think you can imagine the ways in which I think this is applicable to understanding blogging.
And I wonder if it provides some insights into why the TNDP can’t get with blogs; maybe it just doesn’t understand our value because it’s stuck on the other side of the digital divide.
Not to get off track again, because I know y’all are tired of hearing about this, but the main thing that shocks the shit out of me every time I think about it is why the Democrats haven’t hired Sean Braisted (Sean, please leave the room while we talk about you).
Sean is exactly who I would imagine is the quintessential Tennessee Democrat. He’s smart, but down to earth; he’s well-spoken but he’s not an insufferable smarty-pants (or a scary feminist, for that matter); he’s said some stupid-ass things about abortion, but stupid-ass in a way that I would imagine would appeal to most Tennessee Democrats; and he can talk to just about anybody. And he knows about the internet! And he’s had to have come to the attention of the Party.
There are lots of reasons why I can understand why the Democrats aren’t knocking on my door. Hell, I’m sure they’re afraid they’d catch me mid-baby eating orgy. But the fact that not one person there has said “Hmm, Sean Braisted. I can see how to fit him in here,” just shows you that they have no clue.
Does he have some rough edges? Will he drive me to drink? Yes and yes. But will he work so that I can buy wine in Kroger in order to drink with?! Yes again.
But when I imagine the kind of Tennessee Democrat that can speak to all Tennesseans and convey a sense of “I get what you’re saying.” and who can communicate our ideas to them? I think of a guy like Braisted.
Maybe I should have made this a separate post, but that’s what I thought about when I thought about stuff other than the end of libraries as we know them. The world is changing, rapidly, and it’s too important for us to ignore those changes or hope things will go back to how they used to.