The Rock & Roll Librarian

December 13, 2006

An Open Letter to the Guy I Caught Looking at Naughty Stuff on the Internet…

Filed under: humor,Libraries,New Jersey,random,rants,research,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 8:59 pm

Here is the helpful tip I would like to write to my most memorable customer today… 

If you are going to use a computer that has only yourself to block the view, there is a good chance that others will see what you are looking at anyway.  Not that you care what anybody else thinks but you may want to reconsider watching porn in public places.  But if the urge is too much to ignore, perhaps it would be a good idea to try and play some angle to your porn watching… say a site that you could claim you are researching different positions of the Kama Sutra, maybe some racey artwork where you could put up the argument that even a naked person holding a gun and snake is making some kind of statement.

Notice the use of tact and slyness?

However, once you completely cross the line of decency and start watching people playing with pigs, as I caught you doing so today, it is hard to find any sort of defense for yourself.  The research excuse is out the window, artful/political statement won’t fly anymore… and neither will those poor, pigs.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going home to throw out every piece of pork product found in my house… you’ve taken me one step closer to becoming a vegetarian. 

Sincerely,  

Your friendly Librarian

December 12, 2006

Rethinking the Catalog

Filed under: Libraries,research,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:49 pm

For the general user, the library catalog can be a complete pain.  They are not set up for general users, at least users who don’t know exactly what they are looking for.  Today’s catalogs, although improved, still require a certain understanding of the cataloging system and a large amount of creativity in order to the full amount of information from them.

If you wanted to search the Socialism movement in Poland during the 1920′s, there are several search strategies to try.  You could start with a title or keyword search and hope there is a specific book on the subject.  If no results come up, then move to lesser specific terms and find books with either Socialism or Poland in the title, then go to the shelves and hope there is a section in the index on your desired subject. 

My personal preference would be to browse the subject headings under Poland and see if Socialism is a subheading.  If that doesn’t work, switch the terms and see what happens.  If there still aren’t any results, then it’s time to start thinking of alternative subject terms that this research might be found under like “Political Parties,” “Communism,” or general Polish history done by decades. 

It’s all good and fun for me, but how would our patron feel if they were looking for this and having to try all these different search strategies?

How can we wonder why our patrons turn to the Internet for their information?

It’s not even a matter of whether or not they trust what they read, it is a matter of convenience.  There is far less hassle for them to type into terms and come up with results… usually in the first couple tries.

Whether librarians (guardians and keepers of information and bibliographic control) like it or not, our patrons are moving along without us; they have found another way.  It is up to us to bring them back and make our catalogs easier to use.  We need to find ways in which they can find the information they want in ways they are used to searching now; ways like relevancy results, tagging & folksonomy, recommended/alternative/similar reads options.  Perhaps our catalog could even link to a couple trustworthy Internet sites.  If you are feeling really daring, let your patrons have the option to add their own tags to a specific title (obviously, put an administration hold on submissions for approval).

There are libraries that have taken notice and made steps to improve the usability on the patron of their catalogs but many of us are still way behind.  We can contain bibliographic control for our sake and use but we have to start looking at things from our patrons end.  After all, what good is all this information and entertainment if they are unable to find it in the first place?

Blog is cross posted here.

August 29, 2006

Flammable laptop batteries and airplanes…

Filed under: humor,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 4:03 pm

I flew out to Colorado this weekend for a wedding and there was a tremendous hassle about liquids aboard the plane.  The checkpoints were even more meticulous about checking luggage and carry-ons than ever before.

But on all flights my wife and I took, there was always a person who had a Dell laptop on the plane.  I had to wonder how many of them contained the recalled burning batteries. 

Seemed to me that 4.1 million potentially flammable batteries should deserve at least as much attention as a half filled bottle of water.

I saw it on television…

Filed under: random,rants,Technology,technology woes,TV Time — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:51 pm

A friend of mine made a good point about television and its so-called negative influence.

We always hear stories about kids who hurt themselves or commmit bad acts because they “saw someone one TV do it.”  Usually, this is followed by the parents blaming everyone but themselves for for the lack of forethought from their child.

However, we never hear of children doing good deeds because “they saw someone do it on TV.” 

Is it because there are no good acts to be seen on TV or, perhaps, the parents are quicker to blame themselves for their child’s new-found virtue?

August 1, 2006

Online Dating

Filed under: random,rants,Social Networks,Technology,technology woes,Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:12 pm

As I walked into the Library today, I heard two of my coworkers quietly snickering to each other as they glanced over at a third person.  It turned out the subject of humor was that this unnamed third employee met their boyfriend online.

Personally, I’ve never seen what the big deal is.  Social networks are major past-time for many people nowadays, especially with their busy lifestyles.  True, the Internet allows some people to hide their true identities and marital status; on the other hand, it helps those more socially shy people to relax and not feel so stressed about meeting someone new.  It allows people to know the personality before the meeting and that can take a tremendous amount of pressure off.

I guess my real point is that couple meet in many different ways, through work, through friends, in stores, bars, singles ads (which is somehow thought of different than online meetings), all the way up to prisoner exchange letters for crying out loud.

If it works, who cares?

Interestingly enough, the cackling twosome were single… neither by choice. 

July 18, 2006

RIAA Sues XM Radio

Filed under: rants,RIAA,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:10 pm

Once again, the RIAA looks for ways to sue the legitimate users of music.  This time they are going after XM Radio for development of the Pioneer Inno, a device which allows users to record songs they hear on XM Radio.

I guess the RIAA simply does not care who they sue until they can get a monopoly on all monies.  It certainly doesn’t matter what laws are already in place.  In 1992, the Audio Home Recording Act was passed allowing users to record radio broadcast and songs.  Strangely enough, the law was endorsed by the RIAA at the time.

More so, it is one more way that the RIAA is treating users like criminals.  This type of lawsuit seems to say that the RIAA wants people to buy music on their terms, legislation and users be damned!

It makes me wonder what their next exploit may be.  Personally, it would not surprise me if they tried to create a jukebox law; one which states that people must pay every time they listen to a song.

No tagging jokes here… the RIAA is just not funny.

July 17, 2006

Robot Eat Flies

Filed under: humor,Technology,technology woes,Uncategorized — Tyler Rousseau @ 3:25 pm

No, no, no, it’s not the name of some post industrial band, but it is a new method of re-fueling British scientists are research in their endeavors for alternative fuels as well as playing god.

The Bristol Robotics Laboratory have created several versions of robots to use biomass energy as a means of fuel. Bugs, being so darn yummy, is naturally the next step.

 Actually, the applications for these developments are pretty great.  It helps bring biomass energy into light as a viable means of alternative fuel for many of our day to day products, such as automobiles. 

Really, the only downside to this will be with the restaurants.  I mean, I know you have to wait for a seat on a Friday night, but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna wait for some robot to finish their tuna nicoise!

Slugbot, the first Ecobot

July 8, 2006

DOPA- Useless and Ineffective

Filed under: education,Libraries,politics,rants,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 6:40 pm

DOPA is an iceberg theory fix that simply fails to look at ways to actually address the root of the problems.  Simply banning social networks doesn’t actually fix anything and is based on inaccurate assumptions. 

First, it generalizes the problem to public systems, as if children only get into trouble at school or the library.  Children will use these social networks at home, and some parents will not watch them.

Next, it also assumes that censorship actually works at protection.  Censorship only tried to hide the issue and drive it underground.  That doesn’t mean the problems don’t continue to exist.  

Furthermore, sometimes the children themselves are also setting themselves up; creating accounts that claim they’re over 18 and posting scantly clad pictures of themselves.  I would love to think of children as angels but, frankly, I remember middle school and am well aware that the loss of innocence started then.

DOPA puts the blame on networks, not the users.  Its the guns don’t kill people argument.  Technically accurate as these networks require the participation of the individual. Social networks are not the culprit.

As much as these reasons play a factor in my disagreement with DOPA there is actually a much bigger issue that makes me dislike it.  The use of bully-tactics to put it in effect. 

Supposedly, public systems have a choice of whether to implement DOPA or not.  But if libraries and schools do not comply to DOPA they will be ineligible for certain funds and grants.  So, really, the “choice” of whether or not a library uses DOPA is based on dichotomy and doesn’t actually give a choice to many public systems who desperately rely on these monies to keep afloat.

Can you say “forced conservatism?”

So how can a school or library look at more effective ways of addressing social network issues?  

In a computer club, perhaps a social network could be used as a learning experience with the students.  Teachers and librarians could show children how to create a “safe” chat-room.  Maybe even the kids would be able to have a discussion on ways we could make the social networks safer.

In other words, educate and have the children think critically.

Cellphones and the Insane

Filed under: humor,random,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 2:00 pm

I think we need to start giving the insane population cellphone earpieces.  Since every other person starving for constant attention seems to wear them as a fashion piece now, no one would be able to tell who suffers an affliction and who is just talking loudly in public.

On a slightly different topic, Infoworld offers the Ten Commandments of Cellphone Etiquette

Please read and try to obey… sinners.

July 4, 2006

The Tech Gap is really a Canyon

Filed under: research,Technology,technology woes — Tyler Rousseau @ 1:03 pm

The technology gap has changed.  In fact, the metaphor has evolved into something much bigger. 

Ten years ago, most tech junkies chose to either be software of hardware specialists and be fairly competent of all aspects.  With the latest technological developments however, even these two pieces needs to be broken down.

Dedicated techies are no longer capable of being gurus in all things technology.  They tend to have to pick a specific area and try to keep up. It’s not just hardware or software anymore, it’s specializing in areas of the two.

Some of the best software people I know know nothing of the Internet, databases or hardware.  They simply cannot spend all their time learning everything.  Even designing web-pages (high quality ones, that is) usually require at least a collection of builders, writers, and content specialists.

So, really, the gap that we tend to ask our tech-dinosaurs to jump is a little more complex than just taking a plunge.  Which gap should they jump?  What area becomes the best landing platform for them?

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