29 April 2010

digital natives need tech support too

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 9:15 pm by Andromeda

Seems like digital natives want more tech support than they’re getting in an academic context. The quote that stood out for me:

While college students are adept at manipulating complex social-networking tools through their iPhones and BlackBerries, along with video and computer games, “they’re not nearly as proficient when it comes to using digital tools in a classroom setting; this turns the myth that we’re dealing with a whole generation of digital natives on its head,” said William Rieders, executive vice president of global new media for Cengage Learning.

This reminds me of all the debates surrounding nonnative speakers of English in academic contexts — specifically, how there’s a whole population that’s fluent in conversational English, but that doesn’t mean they’re conversant with academic English (in fact, their conversational fluency may mask real difficulty with the demands classes make upon English proficiency). Looks like the same thing here — because we see people who have these everyday, conversational uses of technology, we may overpresume their grasp of more sophisticated tech skills.


23 April 2010

xkcd cryptoshoutout

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 9:51 am by Andromeda

I’ve been doing a final project for one of my classes which entails reading the entire xkcd archives, repeatedly, for homework (on which more later; yes, sometimes my life is awesome).

Today’s xkcd has the following alt text:

Telescopes and bathyscapes and sonar probes of Scottish lakes, Tacoma Narrows bridge collapse explained with abstract phase-space maps, some x-ray slides, a music score, Minard’s Napoleonic war: the most exciting new frontier is charting what’s already here.

(Emphasis mine.) I choose to treat this as a secret shout-out to librarians.

11 April 2010

Now CC-licensed

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 10:46 am by Andromeda

Library Scenester posted about creative commons licensing her blog. Well, why the heck not?

I’m a fan of information kudzu: gloriously verdant growth and hybridization of the world’s ideas, even if it means we have to hack away the resulting infoglut a bit. (Maybe librarians aren’t sherpas so much as machete-wielding jungle guides? Do I get a machete when I graduate?) And I’m as much of a sucker for trackbacks as anyone else — I want you to quote and remix my work! And the folks at Creative Commons have made it so very easy to generate licenses (what a welcome change of pace from click-to-pretend-you’ve-read-this many-page EULAs); check out the new widget at right.

So let’s make this officially clear: you can quote me. You can mash this blog up. This blog officially participates in the user-generated-content revolution. Have fun!

8 April 2010

today: glorious victory.

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:50 pm by Andromeda

A while ago on Twitter I mentioned my plan for life these days: fail more intelligently, build stuff, kick ass. Today was a day of #3:

  • I received a scholarship to attend the Association of College and Research Libraries’ New England Chapter conference (May 14). Already having problems deciding which sessions to attend, with multiple compelling ideas conflicting. I’m actually required to do some writeup for ACRL as part of the scholarship, so I expect to end up talking about it here later (as well as via @ThatAndromeda). I ❤ conferences. I am psyched.
  • I’m giving this workshop on fun with WorldCat APIs at the Simmons GSLIS tech lab tomorrow from 1-2pm. And it’s signed up over capacity. And I overheard people talking about it today, including one who wasn’t signed up but wanted to go (which, of course, I enthusiastically encouraged him to do ;). And the OCLC Developer Network has picked this up and blogged it and tweeted it repeatedly. And here I thought this would be too arcane for many people to be interested. I may have to run it again.
  • And apparently my name came up at a faculty meeting as an example of an intelligent, creative students.
  • And I’m still feeling psyched about the paper I submitted to the LITA/Ex Libris student writing contest. And my fellow students seem pretty interested in it. I think I’ll turn it into a tech lab presentation, too. Apparently arcane topics are the way to go!

I am not usually the own-horn-tooting type — one of those stereotypical librarian habits we need to get over, I guess — but I am just rocking the professional identity today, and I had to dance about it :).

(Nice day for biking, too. That just makes everything better.)

6 April 2010

re: your brains

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 4:47 pm by Andromeda

In case anyone wondered why I was so schmoopy with glee after meeting all these librarians at ALA Midwinter:

“In case you haven’t noticed, zombies are so hot right now. In movies and books, in flash mobs and on college campuses, even in social networking, they’re everywhere — shouldn’t they be @ your library, too?”

And there’s a genuine point in the original, zombielicious post about literacy and teaching and engagement.

I like geeks and all (I am a geek and all), but I don’t think “Geek the Library” really stands up to “Zombie the Library”. (Sorry, guys.)

(The post title, by the way, is the obligatory Jonathan Coulton reference.)

5 April 2010

semper liberi

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 10:13 pm by Andromeda

I’m going to take a break from librarying for a moment to talk about basketball.

I’m a Morgantown girl born and raised, 17 years. When I was young my dad and I had season tickets to WVU men’s basketball. Of course it’s been a while, and I haven’t seen much basketball since, but I was utterly thrilled to see WVU in the Final Four. Not something, let’s say, that ever seemed likely back when I watched them live.

Well, we got totally dismantled in the game. And our big star did something awful to his knee, bad enough it hurt just to watch him writhing on the court. But none of that is quite why this Yahoo column, or this article out of Wheeling, had me on the verge of tears.

“West Virginia, usually near the top only in things like obesity and poverty, captured the attention of the nation in a positive way this time…”

When we’re in the news, it’s generally some totally ghastly story like today’s mine explosion (may they find the missing, and something console the families of the dead). Or it’s state corruption or it’s poor health or poor education. Something miserable.

And what it comes down to is this. When you say you’re from West Virginia — if you’re very lucky, you’re talking to a college sports fan, who knows WVU or Marshall. Or maybe someone who’s driven through sometime, I-68 or something, and knows that you’re from the most beautiful place on earth. Good chance, though, that you get someone all excited because they have a cousin in Richmond. (I’ve never been to Richmond. I have only a vague idea where it is. In Virginia. A state which we seceded from. In 1863. FYI.) More likely you get some kind of incest joke.

Which — in case you somehow did not know this? — is not funny. It’s inherently not funny. But mostly it’s not funny when you hear it time after time. When the message you get, from the media, from practically anyone you talk to outside of your state, is that the only thing West Virginia is good for is tragedy and insult. If I tell people I’m from Massachusetts, they might think I’m a godless commie, but they might also think I’m educated or cultured or what-have-you. People may assume limits on my morals if I come from Massachusetts, they may assume my cultural perspective, but they never assume limits on my potential. But I tell people I’m from West Virginia and…and am grateful if they know it is a state.

And this is why I stayed up too late watching the game, all to its bitter end, and still get teary-eyed thinking about it. Because for once, for once, my state is on the national scene for a reason that is wholly good. For once people look at us and see something to cheer for. (For once, we look at ourselves and see something to cheer for. Because, sad to say, no one puts limits on West Virginians’ potential so severely as we ourselves do…)

You probably haven’t been to my hometown. So, just so you know: We were profiled by NPR for having had the lowest unemployment rate in the country recently. We have, of course, a sizable university, which filled my childhood with viola lessons, community orchestra, volunteer chemistry research, famous guest speakers, touring musicals all summer (as well as basketball). We have our very own monorail — no, really — driverless electric cars which show up on command and handle much of the students’ transit needs, as well as many residents’. (We have a bus system, too, for all you public transit fans.) We have one of my favorite indie coffeehouses ever, which has been thriving since I was in high school, and doesn’t just cater to students or musicians or stay-at-home moms or retirees or businesspeople, but everybody. We have a bike path and a Japanese restaurant I still get intense cravings for a few times a year. And it really, truly is the most beautiful state in the world. The green and hills and rolling lushness get into your bloodstream and define what land is supposed to be and I love my adopted city but sometimes I look around and feel lonely for the hills; everything is flat and desolate, not half green enough. Missing the way that land should be.

If I were from any other state, would I feel the need to write an apologia for it? But then again, would you know enough I didn’t have to?