Posts Tagged 'class'

Quicksilver

I use a Mac. Sweet little MacBook I’ve named Hermes, because I purchased this Mac so I could use Quicksilver. It felt a little weird to put a large sum of money down in essence for a free application to use on the product I purchased, but it really has been worth it. I haven’t upgraded to Leopard because I don’t even use my dock. All QS, all the time.

I recently started using the Shelf, which I have to say is pretty dang hot. A persistent clipboard that lets me hot-swap text on the fly in a couple of keystrokes? Sort of rocking my world right now. Except I put something on the Shelf that wasn’t right, and I wanted to remove it. And it took me about 30 minutes to figure out how to do that! On the one hand, it kind of boggles my mind that what I see as simple functionality seems so hard to get to, but on the other hand my Metadata class has done quite well in getting me acclimated to that fact, and figuring out solutions.

What all do I need to know to get QS to read items on the Shelf and move those items to the trash? At this point, I have to use my mouse to perform the function, and the mouse is evil.

List of 100

I was cherry picking my feed reader items (yes, I have lots of assignments due soon) and via Lifehacker I found this Lists of 100 suggestion to spark creativity. I am so excited about this! It seems like my kind of thing. I recently purchased silly Japanese stationery and now I know how I will use it.

Recently I wanted to make this blog a little less navel-gazy (it’s a word now!) and a little more production-focused. I think doing the list exercise will help with that.

Also, I had a really good Knowledge Management class last Thursday. I finally managed to put my finger on what was silently missing in our readings, and I think I made my points clear to others. People and resources don’t just magically come together to produce some innovative policy/product/etc. People make people and resources come together, and I’m interested in the details of that negotiation/diplomacy process.

So productive!

What happens when I need to do some research methods reading, but I’ve had a grande mocha? I’ve finally started putting up a blogroll!

When I started this blog I had committed myself to not having everything I wanted on the site up and perfect at launch, and the blogroll was one of those things I decided to pass on until “a later date.” I’ve finally got it there, but it’s still not quite what I want it to be.

I’ve also started futzing around with the recent tags/categories distinction implementation, but I’m still not quite comfortable with it. It’s cool though, it’ll come.

As for research methods, I’ve tutored undergrads on social science research methodology (and I really enjoy it), so I’m just not very concerned. I am looking forward to dipping into stats though, as that’s a weak point for me right now.

And I’m getting very familiar with one of my personal/professional interests: computer/internet skills instruction. I had a job a few years ago where I got to do this and I found I really loved it, and the people I helped really appreciated me, sought me out, and talked to me about how their projects (which they were able to conduct with their newfound skills) were going. And this quarter (and probably for the rest of the academic year) I’m going to be volunteering with SPL on computer skills instruction. I’m really looking forward to it! Talking to people about what they want to do, and helping them become familiar with an environment in which they can achieve their goals…so great!

It was stuff like this that made me think I wanted to be a reference librarian: to save the world with individual assistance and skills instruction. Then I learned a little more about what reference is, and decided it wasn’t for me. I still really like things like instruction, tutoring, and consultation (though I could use more experience with this), just not in the reference package.

Totally unrelatedly: I’ve found that Pandora can be very predictive for some of my musical interests, as can Last.fm, particularly when I can’t express them in terms of a specific artist. However, my Daft Punk Pandora station, which I’ve seeded with Daft Punk and Justice, isn’t really producing much (though I’ve found a couple goodies on there). Same with Last.fm, except for the fact that I can’t seed a station with multiple artists (I think). What’s really strange is that recently, when I try out an artist-based station, it keeps feeding me Chromeo. And I don’t know how I feel about that (or them).

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Now playing on Last.fm: Justice Vs Simian – We Are Your Friends (Radio Edit)
via FoxyTunes

Why don’t you just tell me the movie you want to see?

Classes are starting up again and I need to make a slight attitude adjustment. Nothing major, but a shift is required.

This summer I did fieldwork (such as one does in the information professions) two days a week at Corbis. It was just what I wanted: I got a taste for controlled vocabulary work in a corporate setting, and I got to see how an info organization group markets itself to the rest of its company. And while I wasn’t doing the fieldwork thing, I was working at my current place of employment for the other three days per week. Business has been ramping up there, we’re seeing some significant changes in processes/procedures, and I lost my usual job-share partner, so for the last six weeks or so I’ve been trying to work a 45 hr/week morphing job in three days. Very busy, and a fair amount of overtime on the days I’m there. So summer didn’t feel quite as relaxing as I wanted it to.

Anyway, because I’ve felt so inundated at my current workplace, I’ve kind of stopped poring deeply into things. I scan my feeds pretty superficially, I give up looking for answers to a question after about 30 seconds, and I actively ignore information that could be useful to me if it isn’t useful the moment I encounter it. Instead of poking, prodding, and guessing at things I don’t understand, I would rather someone just tell me what they found interesting/meaningful (hence my Seinfeldian title), and leave it at that.

This isn’t really conducive to graduate studies. It also isn’t conducive to my general happiness and intellectual well-being. So, I need to make the shift: open up, regenerate my natural curiosity, and support my sometimes sickening interest in the geekiest of things. Lower my current job on the priorities list, and do whatever it takes to make sure that when I’m at work I work, and when I leave at 5:00 (every day, no exceptions) I leave it all there.

I think part of why I didn’t post much this past summer is because of the effects of the attitude shift. I was pushing away time spent on intellectual depth, and posting here was not immediately relevant to my tasks. Also, it’s just kind of hard to write, and to commit to writing regularly. But I expect much of this to change soon, whether of my own doing or by the sheer force of The Great Prioritizer.

This quarter, I am taking:

  • Metadata
  • Knowledge Management
  • Research Methods

I’m pretty excited to see how the first two will interact. I had such a fun and inspiring time with the unanticipated interaction between my thesaurus building and information retrieval classes last spring. Yay!

End of quarter thesaurusoidal nothings

(I wish I could take credit for thesaurusoidal, but alas I cannot)

I’ve got one end-of-quarter class project in the can and one more to go. Woo!

540, the retrieval class, is pretty much done. I have some journal updates I should make an effort at completing, but that’s really it for that one. I think I enjoyed myself in that class, and more importantly felt challenged in ways I’ve generally been sly about avoiding in my educational endeavors: actively being accountable for everything I read/learn/produce, and also not achieving absolute greatness publicly (at least, in front of my instructor and fellow colleagues). I’ve got some honor roll student mentality to get over. ;)

Unfortunately there was some animosity in the class, and I am happy to be leaving that. The Santa Cruz hippie in me is coming out, and I want to get to a place of love, kindness, and always looking for the best in people, which is hard when I’m in a tense and frustrated group. I’ve done snobbery and cynicism, and while it has its place it’s just not as pleasant a way to live.

Last project is for the thesaurus class, and I built my part of our alpha index last night. I really like it; I liked seeing our work and our terms come together that way. We’re working off of a spreadsheet and a classified schedule, and I liked the classified schedule, but seeing the relationships marked up for the preferred and non-preferred, figuring out what needed notes and what didn’t, that was just nice. I know we’ve been working on this all quarter, but I think this felt like the first real deliverable. Maybe because I alone produced my part, while for everything else I’ve been working with others? In any case, it was fun to do the alpha and partially watch Numb3rs in the background.

When I was working on my 540 group’s final paper the other day, I wandered around the library for a mental breather and found this book–The Nothing That Is–totally at random. Subtitle: A Natural History of Zero. I just love this stuff! Socializing objects, historicizing concepts, it’s just gorgeous. I listened to about half of Salt a year ago on the iPod while traveling to and from work, and that was great until I realized I really wanted to see some maps. I wonder if I can convince my anthro/archy friends to produce this kind of work in their professional careers. The process these stories go through is kind of Dervin-y, very sense-making. (And this touches on another post rattling around in my head. But later!)

So I’m lounging around on this fine Saturday morning, tea and oatmeal at the ready, and I run across this passage in Zero that I think I’d like to use to kick off writing the introduction to our thesaurus. Kaplan writes

A way to calculate yet keep a clear record: this is where body and mind diverge.

It isn’t until [automatic, mundane actions] make their way, however shyly, into speech that we can abstract from them and so bring them into the theater of thought.

Intellectually this seems a fine way to begin an introduction to our thesaurus, in terms of informing people in comfortable, common language what it is you mean to do, and I suppose going along with the theme of my book, what you actively mean not to do (and what is absent). But I think the last time I began a written work with a quote was during the first quarter of my first year of undergrad, and it just felt icky and cliche. But there’s some juice there. (Wait, how can there be juice in a pithy quote?)

And finally I just need to document this bit of mental perversity for posterity. I’ve been working on notation for our thesaurus, and (naturally) trying to think about all the little details and consequences. Oddly, it was when I was told to relax that I started imagining notation in terms of color, as a set of three values (RGB) combined to produce some color which served as the notation for a term. And then I thought about distinguishing facets as a factor of saturation. Then (naturally) I tried to break my little ordinal “notation” scheme and came up with the problem of color blindness; that is to say, there are people who won’t read the “notation” the way most others do because they switch colors or some colors become indistinguishable from others. And then I thought, “I’ll make all our polyhierarchical terms the color blind colors.”

And then I watched junky tv for a while to bring my brain back to earth.

It’s what you make of it

This quarter, a lot of the inspiration for my information musings has come from my 540 class: Information Systems, Architecture, and Retrieval. (here, but you have to scroll) One of the difficulties I have with the class is that Efthi brings up an interesting point and I take notes on it and where my thoughts flow, and by the time I’ve come to a resting place it’s been about 15 minutes and the lecture has moved on. Definitely not the worst problem to have in a class. ;) In any case, last Thursday was like that, and I want to set out what I thought then.

We were talking about web pages and web sites being connected, and how the nature of those connections affects how they are ranked in a general search engine search. We discussed PageRank and the authority/hub model (hope I’m getting that right), and naturally I saw how that is relevant to promoting my little work here. What really sparked my further thoughts is that one of my classmates/colleagues asked, “How is this relevant to our work? I don’t really see how, as librarians, we have to know about how search engines rank web pages, where that fits in with our work.” (note: this person wasn’t mean about asking the question, just direct)

Well, my personal response is summarized in the title of this post. And the details follow.

I just googled my home town: Hanford, CA. The results page (let’s face it, with a search like this there’s only one meaningful page of results) lists the City of Hanford home page, sites about the weather in Hanford, Chamber of Commerce, local newspaper the Hanford Sentinel, and some commercial websites that seem to have taken advantage of search engine ranking algorithms to get on the Top 10 results page. The library isn’t on there. Okay, I’ll dig.

The Wikipedia article for Hanford is #11, btw.

First Baptist is #18.

Ren Faire is #25.

Okay, I’m 50 results in and I’m tired of looking.

If I add the term library to my search string, I get Kings County Library, first hit. Awesome. For people with that known item quest (namely, “how do I get to the library?”). I see local/public libraries as important resources in a community, and right up there with newspapers as an institution that contributes greatly to local identity by way of information. But KCL isn’t present in the Google results. And Hanford is the county seat, so the HanfordKings County difference isn’t a good excuse. If libraries want to get out there and reassert their role in the communities they serve, they should know how to utilize the tools at their disposal. I, for one, am concerned about libraries being out of sight, out of mind.

That question also reminded me of Stephen Abram’s article about information professionals fulfilling that role of professional. Professionals have informed opinions, special education, and additional responsibilities to develop their expertise in a discipline. I took from that article two things:

  1. Librarians and IP’s ought to shed their modesty and reassert their expertise. One can be an expert without being a jerk.
  2. Professionalism also requires that we remain receptive to changes and opportunities in life that may find pertinence in our individual jobs as well as our greater discipline.

So that’s a more long-view answer to the question my colleague brought up, and one I take pretty seriously.

I also saw some relevance in our discussion of search engine ranking in terms of assessing one’s sources. I can see this being pretty meaningful to people working in reference, though I’ve never done so and I doubt I ever will, so maybe I’m wrong. But maybe not. :) One of the many valuable lessons I’ve learned in my education thus far is looking at things I’ve hardly given a second thought to (e.g. books, web sites, search engines, libraries, MMO’s) and reading them as tools. To me, this means stripping my understanding of the kind of dogma that develops around those things I or others value, and assessing them in terms of how they work, what they can do, what they can’t do, and where room for adjustment might be. So I see use in learning what to look for in assessing search engine ranking, and how that parallels with assessing any other set of sources or tools, asking, “How were you made? What does that mean?”

I remember reading that Pat Wilson wrote on authority, but in a more social sense. Maybe that’ll be summer reading? Haha, I was also thinking about learning some basic programming skills, in addition to fieldwork and money-earning work, and possibly some independent language learning….