Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Road to Perdition

I asked a friend of mine if she would like to twitter or wiki with me. She drilled me to the wall with a suspicious glare followed by a high-pitched squealed, "You want me to what?!"

In that moment my mind reshuffled and mutated. I'm sure she thought I was depraved and about to lead her into a deadly sin. She now saw me as a crazed infidel that was inticing her down the road of wickedness to commit some sinster act that would put us both on that well-trodden road to hell. I sputtered a protest, waving my arms like an over-inspired preacher. I insisted she had misunderstood me and baked under her disapproving scowl. My first impulse was to hide under my desk, but could not leave my friend in a state of unenlightenment. I had to drag her into the 21st century.

"Wiki wiki," I said as she retreated away from me. Her face screwed up into a knot of stark fear. She thought I was casting a pagan curse on her soul.
"Twitter, flickr, RSS, YouTube, blog!" I continued.

"Back!" she screamed, "I have garlic!"

Oh, what a mess! I'd have to try a different tact. I took a deep calming breath and said as sweetly as I could muster, "Remember, I'm a librarian. We're generally harmless."

She licked her dry lips, trembled and crossed herself.

From there we were able to have a quasi-coherent conversation about all things I'd been learning about through krl2pt0. By the time she stopped twitching I had completed imparting my new knowledge. "A wiki has a lot of cool stuff," I gushed, "like collaborative learning, mail, discussions, communcation, explanations, brain-storming, one-stop shopping, special groups, programs, reader's advisory, social experiences, archives, repositories and... more stuff."

"Oh," her eyebrows were so high they seemed to recede into her hair line. "You mean like... a library?"

She was right. A wiki was a library. We had all that cool stuff with the added bonus of expert guides. We'd been a wiki for years and didn't know it.
We were no longer limited to the physical walls of our buildings. We could touch the lives of people who were afraid to leave their homes, centophobes, bibliophobes, coulrophobes, geliophobes, and metathesiophobes. And especially those with phronemophobia. If we used all the tools available to us then we could reach everybody in the world except those who were intentionally avoiding us and those without electricity and flushing toilets. Virtual outreach. Going places we weren't invited. Grabbing people using the element of suprise. Being and lurking in unexpected places. The innocent would find a library no matter where they went and ultimately realize that the ubiquitous library had become an essential part of their lives.

Then they'd vote for our levy.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Greeting ducks at the cemetery

My nephew is looking for a job. He was a waiter at a tourist restaurant but was fired for being rude. Rudeness in a waiter isn't good. You don't get many tips that way, but you do get axed and booted out the back door. I was thinking about him as I explored the Sites for Students. He has a computer at home and access to the Internet. With just that he can use any of a number of sites to search for a job or rewrite his resume.
I'm already thinking about what my next job might be. Jobster was just full of ideas. I've often thought I want to become either a cemetery caretaker or a clown. There are 43 clown positions open today and there is an opening for a cemetery caretaker in San Francisco. The jobs were easy to search. I found 137 jobs for lazy people, 4336 jobs involved hiking, 96 jobs involved ducks and over 25,000 involved books in some obscure or vague manner. And there are 1132 organization looking for greeters. I could be a greeter. I can smile and say hello. I can point and nod. I can stand for short periods of time, too.
All the tools I need to write my next resume are included in these sites for students. Z0ho has a word processor for me to use. I can even create a presentation if I want. I could take pictures of myself dressed as a clown. What I'm hoping is that I can combine the cemetery care taking job with the clown occupation.
Sometimes I think my mind is stuck in a buggy whip shop while the rest of me exists in the virtual world. As I explored the Digication site I was astounded at what people are willing to share. Modesty is a forgotten element in this new world. People share thoughts, histories, hopes, philosophises, failures and take pictures of all of it. In this world, sharing everything is good whether it is a picture of your generous behind or a closeup of your nostrils - it doesn't matter. All is art. All is public. All is shared. All is educational.

I explored many of the sites and found that some are simply fabulous - a goldmine for any student who has access to a computer and needs to create a document for a class, job or just collaborate on an idea. The speed at which ideas can be shared, learned and spread is phenomenal. There is too much there to know. It is like a metastasizing cancer cell. Poof it is everywhere.

The swift-footed twaddle

The swift-footed twaddle is a cagey seldom seen bird. It is like the garden nymph. You know it is there but it is too quick for your eye to ever catch it out in the open. Alas, the same is true of the twaddle bird. In order to see it you have to have gobs of time and you have to sit very still for epochs of time. You must creep silently out into the forest and wait. About the time moss has begun to grow between you toes is when you'll see the twaddle. Or at least catch a glimpse of him or her (the females are quicker than the males). I have never had enough time to do this but I've been told it is well worth the wait. We'll see.

After I've seen the swift-footed twaddle then I'll plan to incorporate the social networking tool twitter into my life. Right now I'm much to busy planning my foray into the forest to capture the heretofore unknown and unseen twaddle bird.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Rumors and dodo birds

Rumor says that in 1598 when Portuguese sailors landed on the island of Mauritius they discovered a previously unknown species of bird, the Dodo, and being hungry they promptly ate the poor creatures into extinction. The piteous dodo is today associated with being a big, dumb, sloth like galumph. This demeaning talk has ruined the reputation of a perfectly fine and stately, albeit very dead, bird. But the enticing lies about this unfortunate bird have continued to this day. Reality is that it is doubtful that the bird was eaten into extinction because all historical reports indicate that they tasted like crap. The birds lived in isolation due to their island location and had no contact with humanity, so the dodo greeted their first visitors with a wide-eyed gullible innocence. The sailors thought the big lumbering birds were stupid, not understanding the truth; the birds simply lacked any fear of the newcomers and had no experience with predators. The sailors named the bird "dodo" (meaning a simpleton in the Portuguese tongue). Thousands of the dodo were killed by their human visitors, mostly for their feathers, and those that survived man had to face human introduced animals. Things went from shallow to deep doo doo for the dodo when domesticated dogs and pigs soon became feral. By the year 1681, the last dodo had died, and we were left with only feathers, bones and a bad taste in our mouths.

The dodo bird is a lot like facebook. It is new and different and we might well not understand everything about it, but killing it off before we get the chance to fully investigate it would be as foolhardy as mankind infecting the dodo's environment with our ignorance. The magnitude of possibilities for facebook and other social networking sites are incalculable. Even though man wiped out the dodo in less than one hundred years, its legacy lives on in fairy tales (Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland), in the coat of arms of Mauritius, modern novels (J.K. Rowling and Jasper Fforde) and is even the title of a Dave Matthews song. Who is to say what the legacy of social networking will be? No one can guess. Instead of reaching a few hundred people each day we can touch millions of lives through a new social tool. What a hoot! How could we turn that opportunity down?