Tuesday, January 30, 2007

This semester is soooo much better than last

No fog! No maze! No haze! It's amazing how quickly you can get on top of things when you know what's coming at you. It was tremendous fun last semester, even though I was overwhelmed for quite awhile, so it's really fantastic this semester, to be just as amazed at all the neat connections and threads that run through everything, but not to be feeling like I'm being run over by a steamroller at the same time.

Digitization class has a project orientation, but we spend the first part of the semester getting the theory down. Megan Winget is tossing out very interesting contemplative assignments and study questions. She seems to be extremely open to thoughtful analysis. No pat answers. At this point I'm finding that things I did last semester are directly relevant to what we're doing now. There's very little if any barrier between classes, not just this semester but between semesters. It all starts to merge. So, the paper I did for Don last semester, on the serial futures of libraries, is directly relevant to our discussion tomorrow. I talked about the implications of innovator's dilemma, the long tail, small pieces loosely joined, etc. It all comes up again and again.

In the few months since I wrote that paper, I've read so many pieces by others who have said not only what I said, but a whole lot more. I thought I was being provocative, but I was barely scratching the surface. I found a blog entry today referring to a recent grad's thesis on implementing Library 2.0 in an academic library setting (Michael Habib). I need to read it, obviously. It sounds like it's focused on the short term future, whereas I am more interested in long-term future, but it's interesting to contemplate this idea that we are either kicking or screaming, or willingly, happily, going to our demise. Shall we have fun along the way or not? Let's do Web 2.0 stuff and have some fun. I am all over that.

The other class I have is organizing and providing access to information (Miles Efron) where I'm going to get into xml, oai, and a hundred other acronyms for technologies that I am clueless about. Well, I shouldn't be so harsh. I was posting web pages back when there was no such thing as a wysiwyg editor. So I am not clueless. It's just that I haven't focused on technical stuff for a long time. Anyway what's really interesting about this class is that it will help me finally to get a handle on what the deal is with catalogs and indexes and metadata. I'm a hopeless Google addict and frankly can't imagine limiting myself to searching someone else's ideas (vocabulary) about the resources I want to find. But I'm going to find out about it and figure out what you do with it.

So, then there's french. I am learning to pronounce whatever it is I already know (grammar and vocabulary are not an emphasis of this class). First test is on Friday. Test. That's going to be a trip. Well, I need to learn this stuff. I'll be in France in just about 4 months.

Most exciting thing to happen so far this semester has to do with work, not school. I got to participate in the Library summit at Google last week, UT having joined the book search project the week before. Nothing has blown me away like that did in a long, long time. Google is doing or plans to do everything libraries should be doing but are not and never will. They have the agility, creativity, and resources to make magic happen. Geez I wish I could work there for like 1 month. Just to be in that environment where making things happen is the norm, not the exception. So I'm going to do a paper on our part of the project as it unfolds, sort of a documentary of the process and the interaction with Google (being ever mindful of the things that are confidential). My intent is to, without being too defensive, try to understand and explain how a Google project fits into the larger picture of this library's future. It's not like other digitization projects. Its goals and objectives are totally different. People don't seem to see that. These two classes I'm taking and the roll-out of the Google project at UT are all one to me. They are all about the same thing, the future of the book, the future of the library, the future of publishing. It's like triangulating your location -- in the future.

1 comment:

Michael C. Habib said...

When you get a chance to read my paper, please let me know what you think. I look forward to hearing your ideas on it.