Charleston, Day Whatever and Thoughts on Braisted

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.

18 thoughts on “Charleston, Day Whatever and Thoughts on Braisted

  1. Yep. There’s a small handful of people who would be a good (inter)face for the TNDems and Sean’s in that small handful. And trust me when I say that my primary knowledge of TN political doings comes from on-line, but that I’m assiduous and bipartisan in my purveying of what there is to be purveyed.

  2. Pingback: The Quintessential Tennessee Democrat : Post Politics: Political News and Views in Tennessee

  3. He’s also said some pretty supid things about food production, but he can learn. He is smart, and engaged, and I guess pragmatic. But a Blue Dog nonetheless.

    just what the doctor ordered.

  4. Staying out of the TNDem stuff because it’s inside baseball….

    The whole “death of libraries” thing depresses me almost as much as the “death of the book”.

    But what depresses me even more is that no one has yet pointed out that authors and researchers will never die. Well, they will if you don’t feed them. Which is why I’m more in love with those who are at least advancing the idea of paying authors something for their work product. Those bastards at the Libraries who digitised their collections gave no thought to that and seeing them sweat their own demise after murdering others just kind of makes me smile a bit through the pain.

    A bit.

  5. Aunt B.,

    Yeah, I think I’ve insulted Southerners and certain kinds of Christians enough to have been taken off the radar, but thanks nonetheless.


    Blue dog? Ouch. Maybe on a smattering of issues, but I’m pro-gay marriage, pro-(most forms of) abortion, pro-immigration (legal or otherwise), pro-state income tax, pro-socialized medicine. The list goes on….

  6. …like Katherine, death of books/libraries depresses me too. I’m sitting here, copy of David McCullough’s Truman in hand and it makes me giddy, the thought of devouring this 3″+ book. I love it.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I just started a new project, designing a book cover for an independent publisher here in the area. There is no budget. Nothing. And the author has all these idea of what she wants… but still, there’s no budget. And I want this to be beautiful and true to the story on the inside, but if there’s no money for the book to be created to be visually captivating – b/c most people DO judge a book by the cover – how can people understand that it’s worth reading?

    Maybe that’s just my frustration, but I see how compact discs are dying off as a tangible medium – i.e. the number of those types of projects crossing my desk are fewer and fewer as the years go by – and I have to wonder if the book is next?

  7. Beth, tell me how you like Truman once you finish it. I loved it for about the first 2″ and then began to think that it devolved into “and the next day, Truman had eggs for breakfast and took a brief walk to the Naval Observatory before taking a few phone calls. He then had a hamburger and read a newspaper.” There was just too much quotidian detail and too little narrative through-line, almost as though McCullough had some research assistant xerox Truman’s dayplanner and neglected the other better sources for what I wanted to know.

    Maybe it was just that I found everything before his presidency a lot more compelling and the beginning of the Korean War was distressing even from a distance.

  8. Bridgett, I’m on chapter 3… which is fairly good progression as I started it about 2 hours ago. It’s good so far. You’re right about the detail though…. the last 1/2 of the book seems to be acknowledgments and source citations. The man always does his homework!

    The nuances was what my friend that loaned me the book warned me about when we were discussing McCullough’s “John Adams”. He steered me toward “Truman” instead of “Adams”. Anyway, this all transpired as I had thoroughly enjoyed “1776” and recommended it to my friend. He’s devouring that book currently. If you haven’t read “1776” I highly recommend it.

  9. That Truman book is an interesting statement about endurance clearly. I started it but couldn’t get into it. So I checked out the book on tape and was so overwhelmed with the bloody battles of the border states that I couldn’t listen. If you are reading, you can scan really hard graphic descriptions. I have tremendously enjoyed some of McCullough’s other presidential writings: John Adams, Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt. So I have to assume there is a purpose to starting and finishing Truman. Maybe his time has come. Or maybe many of us who were not history majors are finally realizing we’d like to know what really happened before.

  10. Mack,
    Sean is no blue dog. You don’t live in John Tanner country,Been a Tennessan far longer than I won’t to admit. Young, but not a Blue Dog by any stretch of the imagination.

  11. So I have to assume there is a purpose to starting and finishing Truman.

    I managed to get through “The Poisonwood Bible” — although it took me all summer to finish it — so good in parts and others were an overtly descriptive narrative about the history and delicate detailing of the history, smell, customs and other stuff about the Congo — After that overly descriptive piece of literature, I feel like I can get through any book. I just loaned it to a friend – a German literature PhD candidate here in town — she’s slogging her way through it now. She’s struggling to finish it too, although she started out loving it.

    Anyway, I have a goal-oriented personality that won’t allow me to leave tasks unfinished. It’s a blessing and a curse. I’ll get through this book, somehow ;-)

    Or maybe many of us who were not history majors are finally realizing we’d like to know what really happened before.


  12. I’m not a Democrat (technically I am but I’m really an independent) and no longer a Tennessean but I think Sean would be good for the TNDP also. I keeping up with the politics of my home state I’ve found that Sean maintains a civil and diplomatic tone well enough that he won’t alienate many.

    I estimate 80% of the population is pretty rigid in their voting. It’s the 20% that either party needs to sway in order to win. Most of the Tennessee Democratic/liberal bloggers/pundits I’ve read are so insulting to non-believers that they push people away rather than pull them in.

    Sean needs a little maturing but I like his tone and think others would too.

  13. something–along the lines of a creative commons license–that would signal to readers that this information was useful and could be counted on

    when almost every academic paper released starts a firestorm of controversy over minutia that no one other than the other four authors of similar tomes cares about?

    Perhaps we could just say this article has pants, though.

    The party needs something other than Sasser and WhiteBredesen – it’s become the party no one wants to attend.

  14. Yeah, all those minutiae like the “fall of Rome” not having happened. It’s attitudes like that towards academic work which explain why, after all this time, a perfectly-well-educated guy like W can refer to a non-event as a given.

  15. I’m a little late to this party but, yes, please give Sean a post all his own. Why didn’t they hired him, indeed. He’s prolific, intelligent, and not afraid of Bill Hobbs. I guess there’s always now…

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