21 February 2010

I am (or will be) an information ninja. Proper Villainy Post #1

"Archivists receive no training in applying physical force against suspected thieves as part of their graduate work, and physical force applied by an untrained staff member could result in serious injury to the patron or the staff member. If the repository wants its employees to use physical force to stop suspected thieves fromleaving the archives, the repository should provide the appropriate training." 

- From "Preventing Patron Theft in the Archives: Legal Perspectives and Problems" by Vincent A. Totka, Jr. in Volume 56, Number 4 / Fall 1993 of American Archivist 

I wonder if I can get someplace I work for in the future to hook me up with some sort of martial arts/self-defense lessons. It would be pretty sweet to lay some hurt on jackasses who try to steal documents or artifacts. Granted, we're usually supposed to be polite and accommodating, but steal or damage our items and your life is forfeit (at least as far as I'm concerned).

In other news, since I probably won't get around to it and my sort of dark foray into vigilantism is a bit relevant, I may as well mention this now that it's Sunday and I'm clearly not bothering to even attempt getting any work done right now (I'm an atheist, but I do agree that it's good to have one day in the week set aside to avoid work whether God said so or not).

I've been trying to pick up on supervillain habits, particularly mundane ones, and somehow apply becoming a Proper Villain down to the dullest of deeds to the information science world.

The first one I've come up with is:

Villains like Frozen Yogurt

Ok, I've only come up with two examples so far.

1. Dr. Horrible

Look at this guy. Granted, he seemed more like a good guy than the "superhero" Captain Hammer, but he knew that the way to the love interest's heart is through probiotic frozen treats with fruit stirred in. Ok, so things didn't work out so well with Penny, but they darn well could have. That's not the point. He was a good and Proper Villain: refusing a fight challenge since kids played at the park where the challenge was to be met and refusing to kill some kid in Iowa just because he's going to grow up to become president. Even evil has standards.

If you haven't already done so (sheesh, where have you been?), please watch Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

2. Sylar (maybe)


Ok, this might actually be ice cream, but notice he's wearing a wool coat in New York (or maybe Vancouver because everyone and their mom films in Vancouver) so he's probably eating ice cream/frozen yogurt in the winter. So what conclusions can we draw here? Sylar simply does not give a fuck. "Isn't it too cold out for ice cream/frozen yogurt?" someone may ask. Then there would be a flipping of the bird with a simultaneous cranial slicing. This is also the same guy who murdered a chick's twin brother then had sex with her almost immediately afterward.

We also know that Sylar likes cake, but that's a different story, especially since I'm more or less pretending that the show stopped after first season (although I do acknowledge one of my above-listed examples draws from a second season storyline).

As for me, I guess I'm a villain in training. I had a bit of frozen coconut flavored yogurt with mochi stirred in. This was in February. I remember wearing one mitten to hold the cup and having one hand bare to wield the spoon better as I walked to my meeting. No rest for the wicked, right? Sharks have to stay moving to survive, etc. I am a fan of eating while moving. This is why I find portable foods like burritos ideal. I even managed to eat a bowl of split pea soup and a plastic clamshell container of pad thai from a food cart all while walking from point A (one damn thing) to point B (after another).

What was the point of all this rambling madness? I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure that being a proper villain involves a certain minimum amount of crazy. I've got a surplus of it, so I guess I'm on my way then.

To reiterate my findings thus far, Proper Villains/Archivists:
  1. Like frozen yogurt.
  2. Have standards/will not harm children.
  3. Are not overly-conscious of the opinions of others (polite)./Just don't give a fuck (vulgar).
  4. Don't have time to sit down and eat, but still like to eat something healthy while treating themselves.
  5. Film in Vancouver.

If anyone has any further examples of frozen yogurt-related villainy, please let me know. Also, send any other examples of mundane Proper Villainy to me.

05 February 2010

Nerding out and further procrastination/insomnia

Inspired by this (link here if the video doesn't embed):

... and Doctor Who... And yes, I know that time travel and theft don't really work like that. Stealing what is presumably the "first" of a species does not stop the evolutionary process... there might not even really be a "first" so much as an entire population group that adapts to its environment over time.

Time Travel and Your Inner Fish

The engine hummed and buzzed, letting out a little clank to let the time traveler know that there was still one part, albeit nonessential, that needed repair or replacement. The thing gurgled happily in its makeshift aquarium.

Could a primitive tetrapod feel happiness? This certainly wasn't some ordinary "thing," but tiktaalik, perhaps not even really a tetrapod either. The time traveler sighed, realizing his thoughts hung in his head instead of bouncing off the walls and into the ears of some equally enthusiastic, albeit usually confused companion. It was always easier when there was someone around to share the pure joy of information. In all truth, he probably explained things out loud to make sure they still made sense to himself.

Those days were gone, at least for now. For someone so used to being at all sides of the space-time continuum, he was uncertain about his own timeline and his place in it, whether there really was enough room for someone else. For now, he was all alone...

... all alone except for the strange thing that looked like someone had glued a fish and an alligator together, or created a giant salamander with eyes on top of its head that looked like planarian eye spots. What appeared to be nostrils were merely forerunners called spiracles leading to what could well be primitive lungs.

It would have been amazing to dissect this creature, have a look inside. However, that was not to be. This was no mere specimen. He would no sooner dissect this creature than any of the humanoid companions he had shared his long life with. In a way, this was the great to the nth degree grandparent to them all. If not for this particular specimen, fish would have never left the brackish primordial sea for the oozing mud of prehistoric shores. No dinosaurs or mammals would have roamed the earth, let alone humans. He always had a particular soft spot for humans...

... which was what had gotten him into this whole mess in the first place. This current odd "companion" was a product of a mad chase through space and time just for a case of catch up with an old friend from school. Granted, this old friend from school had become more or less completely insane over time, craving power and the creation of chaos instead of being able to take a deep breath and enjoy the universe for what it was. No, this particular time traveler was obsessed with what he thought the universe should be instead of the wonder of what it was. So naturally, with the spite of someone who burns down your house with your pets inside just because you no longer wish to see them, he kidnapped the first tiktaalik and lured our hero for yet another grand, final battle.

It doesn't take a time traveler to know that any "final" battle is anything but. They could very well go on like this forever, bickering and blustering on, occasionally reminiscing past glories, but what was the point? Even thinking about it made our time traveler tired. What was important was that this particular battle was over.

"How about we get you back home again?" His voice cracked slightly at the word "home," somewhat unaccustomed to speaking after a long period of relative silence.

Tiktaalik burbled cheerfully, or so it seemed. It did a proud turn in its small enclosure. Breathing in, ribs expanding beneath its scales as if to defy the artificial gravity that would have otherwise threatened to cave in its entire body. Each breath of air it took out of water, crawling through the mud was a statement of triumph.

Gently lifting the creature out of the tank, the time traveler got a bit of mud on his suit. It flopped about in protest, nearly toppling them both over. Not only was it a good 4 feet long, but stronger than most other things that size. It was a small price to pay to make sure the humans would become -- just become, really.

He watched it frolic on the shore, not so much frolic as do a series of pushup crawl-slithers about before wandering off in the shallows. Stretching on the muddy banks, he rolled up his sleeves and yawned.

It was going to be an interesting 375 million years.

For more information, check out this interview. Or this lecture:

14 December 2009

Read 'em and weep, or something.

I feel silly about getting a B in my reference class just because I was a ditz and forgot to do an assignment (and our instructor didn't accept late work). Good lord, I'm so Asian, it hurts sometimes.

Also, FERPA be damned. I'm putting this info out there anyway.

Tech. for Info. Professionals
Reference/Information Services
Intro to Archival Methods

04 December 2009

Proof that it's the end of the semester

In our online Moodle discussions, we were told to look for "new and provocative" articles about library/information science technology. If this doesn't make my dismay with the class clear, then I didn't have enough fun with this entry...


Kinner, Laura and Rigda, Christine "The Integrated Library System: From Daring to Dinosaur?", Journal of Library Administration, 49: 4, 401 — 417.


The Automated Library System (ALS) came about in the 1970s as a way to house and retrieve library holdings. Since then, it has become an Integrated Library System (ILS) which is apparently much nicer (at least that's what its mother tells it when all the other kids on the playground make fun of it). With the rise of the internet and open source, we might see a battle royale occur between dinosaurs and librarians.

  • At some point in time someone asked "wouldn't it be nice if the public had access to the databases the librarians had access to?" The answer, of course, was a resounding "No." However, that didn't stop someone from coming up with OPAC since they argued that if the public could do their own searching, they wouldn't bother us librarians and dinosaurs as much. Thus began the schism between librarians and dinosaurs since the dinosaurs liked it when people bothered them because it meant that there was more human meat to make into sandwiches the next morning.
  • If OPAC didn't make the 1980s bad enough, the 1990s brought ILS along with grunge bands from the Pacific Northwest. ILS was originally meant to be another back end tool, mainly designed to perform acquisitions
    and circulation functions. Later in the 1990s when fashion ran out of ideas and within the same year, everyone wore bellbottoms, then carpenter pants then cigarette pants, MARC was added. MARC was a very simple kid and preferred straight-leg jeans. Everyone made fun of him because he was so simple to use.
  • With the millennium, everyone got so lazy that the end of the world was moved from the year 2000 to 2012. The year 2006 witnessed even more mergers of ILS companies since it was much easier for a collected bunch of companies to come up with one Integrated Library System than for a bunch of separate companies to come up with a bunch of Integrated Library Systems.
  • One of these was WebOpac because "Son of OPAC" sounded silly.
  • After the big ILS wars, the librarians and dinosaurs were too tired to keep fighting. This provided Open Source programs like Koha, Sakai,  Evergreen and Prospero an opening.
  • The conclusion the author comes to is that librarians must never forget the hard lessons of the war and must adapt to new technology and the demands of patrons in the future.

I really liked this article. It covers the oft-missed topic of librarians versus dinosaurs in an engaging and thoughtful way.

01 December 2009

Libraries vs. the Internet Round 1 FIGHT!

All right, to be fair, this blog entry relinked as originally referenced here focuses more on bookstores and their decline, particularly the independent Mom 'n' Pop operations being nudged out by huge retail stores and the internet.

Still, this is the argument my group tried to make regarding our final project in our tech class. In order to survive, libraries must stay on top of new technology as opposed to hiding from it. This was the first part of our argument. The second part came up when our instructor nay-sayed our idea of purchasing more computers asking why we should do that when a local community center can provide free internet access. Why should people come to the library just to use the internet?

My rebuttal: if libraries have to stay ahead regarding technology, then why not redefine the terms by which that technology is used? Of course, the general "accepted" use of computers in libraries is "strictly research." Yet people are regularly caught looking at porn. I believe this is part of how screen privacy shields or individual cubicle setups for computer labs started becoming popular. I'm not saying we should get rid of all the books and let our patrons look up porn online. What I am saying is that as information professionals, we should take up the challenge brought to us, get people to learn that there are so many other ways to use the internet, so much information out there. If we can help our already over-worked and under-paid teachers get a kid hooked on science instead of meth, then that's pretty damn fantastic. Also, for those looking for jobs but can't afford the internet/a computer, the library is a blessing. I'm sure we can work some sort of skill development/jobhunting seminar in with the other information services.

I'm also a huge fan of the whole "rocking chairs in the children's section" thing. Not only could there be regular storytime, but we could provide an outreach program to parents to help them select books for their children to read (age appropriateness is an entirely different debate altogether). More book clubs, maybe some writing workshops, MeetUps (another way to use the internet to help connect people to the library).

But of course, one could still just say, "Uh, but can't we find books and chat online without having to go to a library or send our hard-earned tax dollars to a library?" Once again, it's the socialization aspect. Would you rather leave your kid alone with a computer all day or take them to a library and find books and other people to talk about those books with, say, perhaps people who know an awful lot about books and can provide recommendations. Ok, I know GoodReads, LibraryThing and other sites can provide a ton of user-generated reviews and ratings, but you have to admit that there's just something reassuring about talking to someone face to face who knows what they're talking about (and isn't a spambot that somehow evaded the captcha).

Besides, to add a bit of ad hominem and strawman into this (I'm no lawyer, so it's ok for me to do this), you don't want to be like this jackass. I mean, would you really want to live in a town without a library? Yeah, we have 40 Starbuckses and a bunch of strip malls that sell crap nobody needs, but a library? Who needs that? We have the internet.

In closing, for our population to be comprised of an "informed citizenship," we still need libraries and those who take that noble call to work in them. Also, librarians and other information scientists must not see the internet as a threat, but as a tool with which to help engage the citizenry (is that even a word? good lord I should go to bed).

28 November 2009

More Archivey Goodness

Here is an epic example of combining original documents with Web 2.0 technology.

The blog mentioned is more or less "real time" posts commemorating the final journal of an explorer. They also have a Twitter account. On the corresponding date in 2009, the archive will post an entry from the last journal of Robert Falcon Scott. I don't know anything about him, but the middle name "Falcon" is probably reason enough to go exploring the South Pole. Still, major spoiler alert if anyone wanted to read the blog in "real time" considering they give the ending away in the blog description. It's not like the "real time" Dracula blogs that everyone and their mom made once Dracula entered the public domain where we all know what happens in the end.

I had gotten my hopes up when I read "Cambridge" on the profile, but I don't think they meant this Cambridge, but rather quite clearly, this Cambridge. Though admittedly, the latter most likely has more prestige and a bigger archival collection than the former.

23 November 2009

Your FDA Recommended Daily Allowance of Iron(y)

Here's a gem from a reading I had from my Intro to Archives class:

"It is noteworthy that during debate in the House of Representatives, one of
Representative Moss’s colleagues, a young congressman from Illinois, spoke in
favor of the bill, saying it
will make it considerably more difficult for secrecy-minded bureaucrats to
decide arbitrarily that people should be denied access to information on the
conduct of Government or on how an individual Government official is handling
his job. . . . [P]ublic records, which are evidence of official government
action, are public property, and there . . . should be a positive obligation to
disclose this information upon request.

The name of that young congressman from Illinois was Donald Rumsfeld."

Timothy L. Ericson, "Building Our Own 'Iron Curtain': The Emergence of Secrecy in American Government," American Archivist, 68 (Spring/Summer 2005): 43.

This is what I think of as a case of historical irony, where perhaps whatever was said was not originally intended with irony (in the sarcastic sense), but has proven to be ironic over time and the course of further speech and action on the part of the speaker.