Teresa has inspired me to do some limericking:There once was a blue-haired librarian– She was nearly an octogenarian– She repined in her blog for her card catalog which she missed, tho’ it seemed antiquarian.
Archive for March, 2008
Some new developments at my job may result in a reduction of hours and stress in the near future, which will in turn result in an increase in available time and brain-power for school work. Yay! This will mean less moolah, but I’m willing to take the pay cut to preserve my sanity. I just hope it happens before summer semester starts…
And now, Originality vs. Pop Culture Plasticity.
The principles behind pictographic languages are still in use today, although perhaps open to interpretation…
I’m getting a little panicky about the fact that my two big city grants, the Community Development Block Grant and the Emergency Shelter Grant, are going to be due at the same time as my take-home final exam and my Final/Paper on open source software. I was hoping to take a week of vacation from work during finals, but it looks like I won’t be able to do that. Maybe I can take the last week of April off, and try to do my Final/Paper then.
Gotta keep all the balls in the air…
Okay, I’ve neglected this thing for too long.
In class two weeks ago, we talked about Tulsa’s information infrastructures: the arrival of railroads, churches, radio, television, the Internet, etc. I’m always drawn to things outside the mainstream, and I started thinking about alternative information infrastructures, information subcultures, the information underground. Those information infrastructures that aren’t major to the majority, but are significant to some populations.
A couple back-alley information infrastructures occured to me, “hobo symbols” for one. Individuals who rode the rails and settled temporarily in tent cities across the country used these symbols to leave messages for other wayfarers. Many of them weren’t literate, or wanted to leave messages that even the uneducated could understand, and so they left pictographs scratched on rocks, fence posts, barns, what-have-you, to help others passing through. One picture scratched on a fence post might tell other travelers that a scary dog lives in this yard, so watch out. Another symbol might indicate a nice lady lives in this house who will provide food. This information infrastructure might be very old and rather crude, but it was significant and widely recognized by the drifters of the time. I wonder if today’s homeless populations still use those symbols?
Another more current information infrastructure, developed in the last 30 years, I think, is similarly low-tech, but nonetheless effective. When I worked for Domestic Violence Intervention Services, I learned about the “bathroom cards.” Women living in abusive relationships are often kept on a short leash by their abusers, not allowed to go anywhere unsupervised in public. Abuse is about power and control, and this is just one way abusers seek to control their victims. Somewhere along the way, some advocates developed the idea of the bathroom card. The ladies’ restroom is one place where men cannot go, where a female victims can temporarily escape the watchful eyes of male abusers. Advocates leave bathroom cards in ladies’ restrooms as a way to reach women in need. The cards contain phone numbers to call for help, strategies for escape, and a list of things a woman should bring with her when fleeing an abusive relationship, like identification, birth certificate, social security card, change of clothes, toothbrush, etc. A woman can slip the card in her purse or pocket, where hopefully her abuser won’t find it. These cards are very effective for conveying information to those who are cut off.
Granted, this only works for heterosexual couples, and unfortunately, abuse exists in all kinds of relationships. I’m not sure what methods are available for subtly reaching gay victims.
These are just a couple information infrastructures that lie off the beaten path. Others include graffiti, gang symbols and colors, and display of name brands to communicate status. It’s an interesting topic of study.
One of the articles I read last week (can’t remember which) made me wonder what will be left of today’s culture 1,000 years from now. Will archaeologists dig for fragments of our history in ancient PC hard-drives? As GUIs and applications evolve ever more quickly, how much personal data will be left behind in defunct, inaccessible formats, like home videos recorded on Beta tapes? How long will webpages remain in existence after their creators have died? Will someone find my first web-comic a hundred years from now, a thousand years from now, like graffiti on a wall in Pompeii? Or will bit-rot bury it forever? Given a significant electromagnetic pulse to wipe out flash drives and hard-drives, how much of culture will be lost? Anything not backed up on CD or DVD, I guess…
I was somewhat dissatisfied with my original headliner (The Spoken Word Fades, the Written Word Abides) from the beginning, since librarians work with so many media other than print media. Of course, you could say music is “written” to a CD, software is “written” to a CD-ROM, etc. Yet webpages are written, so to speak, but an accurately placed magnetic field will wipe out those written words and code, unless, again, everything is written to CD- or DVD-ROM. Of course, paper books and the wax tablets of Alexandria cannot withstand fire any better than our hard-drives can withstand an EMP. I guess what is written in some format or another stands a better chance of lasting longer, but no form of human expression is indestructable. Sic Transit Gloria Mundi.
In other news, reading about the variety of metadata schema available for encoding surrogate records is not my favorite thing ever. AACR2, MARC, XML DTDs, EAD, MODS, METS, TEI, CQL… It’s like trying to divine meaning in a bowl of alphabet soup. I suspect this means I would not make an enthusiastic cataloger. Nonetheless, after using all ten trial sessions available, I finally got 100% on my second quiz! Wooo!
And now for something completely different, I really want this T-shirt:
I got these for Christmas from my cousins–now I just have to find a librarian’s bar to hang out in. Do we have any of those in Tulsa? Maybe we should found one… Perhaps:
“The Bar(code)” or “The Barchives”
Hmm…maybe we could set up next to the Dusty Bookworm… How ’bout “The Tipsy Bookworm”?
We could serve half-price Cata-Lager during happy hour…
Maybe “Reference Renegades” for the LGBTQ Librarians…
Man, these are terrible…