Friday, November 30, 2007

The Social Web is Cool, But Who's Doing the Real Work?

In between reading and sending emails, researching and analyzing data, and writing and editing reports, I try to make the time to keep abreast of happenings in the blogosphere by browsing through my RSS feeds and reading my favorite blogs, current news and events websites, or social networking websites.

But, honestly, I barely have the time to read these blogs and websites even after trimming the excess and reducing my reading list down to the most essential. The fact is, I have very little time at work to engage in, let alone cyber socialize with, the social Web that so many are hyping constantly.

This morning, I followed the pathway to The Irreverent Archivist whose post "Is This the 21st Century," which is actually quite good, links to the OCLC CAPCON conference website where I found several PowerPoint presentations on social networking, including one presentation by Roy Tennant. Being familiar with Roy Tennant's name through the blogosphere, I downloaded his presentation and was impressed by what he had pulled together in terms of social networking in libraries and the various web technologies offered (Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Last.FM, LibraryThing, Second Life, etc).

But as the presentation pages passed me by, I became overwhelmed by the number of social networking websites out there and wondered who has the time at work to both set-up and maintain an account on all these social networking websites? Who has the time to travel around Second Life when a report is due? Who has the time to update their Facebook account with the latest applications, or produce a YouTube video, or catalog books on LibraryThing when a boss or supervisor wants that report ASAP?

I think we should be very cautious when we collectively--librarians, archivists, fence-sitters, don't know how I got here people--promote the Social Web because the Social Web requires time and that means time away from work. Maybe for some lucky souls work is the Social Web. But there are many, many more souls whose work is predominantly defined by daily outputs and servicing real people in the real world.

While I agree these social networking websites are wonderful tools when used efficiently in various information-centric environments, they are clearly aimed at those who have the time or have been given the time at work to use them.

Even on the Social Web, there are haves and have-nots. So while there are those whose time is spent in Second Life, there are many more in real life getting the real work done.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Happiness on the Job

A special thanks goes out to the Annoyed Librarian for pointing this one out.

Time Magazine has produced an interesting interactive career satisfaction scale that displays the level of happiness (or lack of happiness) people feel about their jobs. Sadly, I could not find any mention of archivist. But I did see the entry for librarians (close enough, I guess).

Don't just sit there reading this post - get on over there to Time's "One Day in America: Happiness on the Job" web page!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Brush with Washington Famous, Part 4

For this installment of Brush with Washington Famous, I had a brush with a famous Canadian living in visiting Washington, DC.

This past Saturday evening, I went shopping at Trader Joe's, a grocery store where lots of students and local residents buy their groceries because of selection and good prices, when I saw none other than former Alberta premier Ralph Klein perusing the ailses. Dressed casually, he strolled around, hands in the pockets of his blue jeans.

I was standing in line when I saw him and the first thought that came to mind was, "What the heck is he doing here??"

This time folks, without an entourage, motorcade, security, or, say, a "I ♥ Alberta Beef" sticker on his lapel, I cannot say with certainly if this was in fact Ralph Klein. But this person sure looked like him. know, I think it was him, especially after reading this item from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

According to the Center's website, "Mr. Klein will be at the Institute from October 2007 - December 2007..." The Institute is located in Washington, DC on Pennsylvania Avenue.

It looks like I had yet another encounter with Washington Famous (or folks from Canada who want to be famous in Washington).

Friday, November 09, 2007

Unmasking the Annoyed Librarian

The movement to unmask the Annoyed Librarian is picking up strength and momentum. Heck, even the Annoyed Librarian herself has entered the race. According to her most recent blog post, the perrenially annoyed one asserts that she is not--I repeat, not--Meredith Farkas, dispelling any and all blogosphere rumors to the contrary.

I do not know Meredith Farkas; however, I am aware of her blog Information Wants to be Free. I wonder if this is the Annoyed Librarian's coy attempt at thrawting the attempts to unmask her. Putting us off the track, so to speak.

I personally believe the Annoyed Librarian is a group, a collective of annoyed librarians collaborating to publish blog posts. The editor, probably the most vocal of this chummy bunch, is the one we have come to know and love (or hate) as the Annoyed Librarian. Notice how some blog posts elucidate on the weaknesses of the American Library Association, while others are critical of popular bloggers/librarians. This seems to point to several authors. Granted, my argument is not without holes. But it is what it is.

That said, why the movement to unmask the Annoyed Librarian? Shouldn't we have a bit of mystery? Shouldn't we have someone who remains anonymous and thus is more able to shine a discerning light on the issues of our time or our profession?

I am proud to say that I found the Annoyed Librarian's blog and blogged about her/they long before she/they became the blogosphere hit that she/they is/are today. May 29, 2006 to be exact.

So let the Annoyed Librarian remain anonymous; let her/they blog without hinderance.

Yes, that is good and true.

But then again. I wonder. I wonder....

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Annoyed vs. the Webtamer and other tales from the Archives

The mysterious but always outspoken (and often controversial) Annoyed Librarian strikes again, this time dishing out her annoyance at video games as becoming part of the library school curriculum and their usage in libraries. She quotes The Shifted Librarian describing a gaming course offered by Dr. Michael Stephens. Both Stephens and Shifted are proponents of gaming in library school and libraries. The latter, Stephens, whom the Annoyed Librarian affectionately calls the Webtamer (or Dr. Webtamer, since earning his Ph.D), is the prolific blogger/librarian behind the Tame the Web blog, which regularly promotes the use of gaming and social networking technologies in libraries to encourage community involvement.

Taken with a grain of satirical salt, the Annoyed Librarian argues that library school, already in many respects an “intellectual joke,” as she call it, will become more so if it embraces video gaming as the new education model. And the people promoting these activities, those “twopointopians,” should continue doing so on their blogs, even though they are probably too busy playing video games or social networking.

For the record, I like Michael Stephens, aka Dr. Webtamer, at least the parts of his professional life that he blogs and photographs. And in some ways, I envy his stature in the library field. He travels extensively and gives presentations across the United States, talking about stuff he loves. His excitement is tangible; he truly loves his profession. He’s excited about his work and how all those little gadgets and social networking technologies impact his work and life – and how they can do the same for library schools and libraries.

There are other bloggers/librarians whose day jobs, it seems, are filled with nothing but Second Life, iPods, and Guitar Hero. Although their jobs do not reflect reality, my reality at least, I nonetheless cannot fault them for being so joyful.

I hope they realize how very fortunate they are—how very fortunate--for many us in this field toil in obscurity.

Also for the record, I like the Annoyed Librarian as well. I believe she is a collective of annoyed librarians, and someone in the group is the editor. How can one person be so prolific and still have time to do their day job? In any case, the Annoyed Librarian remains one of the few blogs in the blogosphere that, with wit and satire, nails the foibles of library school so succinctly. It has acted as a personal balm on many occasions.

In regards to video games and gaming, I blogged about video games in the corporate world a few blog posts ago. Citing a BBC news article--and with tongue firmly pressed in check--I figured, what the heck: If video games are the collaboration model for many young adults entering the workforce, then the workforce should adopt video games as the means to get its young employees to collaborate and get the work done. I even figured I best dust off my old 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) to prepare myself. Remember that one, folks, the NES?

Then I read a blog post from our Chief Information Officer, which stunned me, quite frankly. (Sorry, folks, his blog is behind a firewall.) Essentially, he argues that we, our institution, should have a presence in the virtual world Second Life. I had to re-read his post twice just in case I misread his comments. But it’s true: He firmly believes in virtual spaces such as Second Life as a viable and business valuable strategy. Cool, but...

On the one hand, I can appreciate the case Stephens, Shifted and our CIO present. The collaborative space, influenced by videogames, is an emerging platform where people come together and, bound by common goals, work together in the virtual space to achieve said common goals. But on the other hand, I wonder if all this virtual/collaborative space is nothing but another layer of unnecessary work and extra steps to attain information, knowledge, or getting the job done. It’s fun, sure, but is it necessary?

Don't get me wrong: I love a good game of Half-Life 2 as much as the next guy. But what does a first-person shooter--or twanging a guitar controller--have in common with information delivery?

about the author

I am an information professional, researcher, and writer with over eight years experience in the information services field with experience in information and communication technology.

I have a B.A. in History and a Master's in Library and Information Studies and working on a Web and Multimedia Design certificate.

I believe that empowering people with information can enrich lives and transform the world.