Category Archives: Personal

Next Steps

While I have reached out to a few individuals, and I have posted about it around social media, I realized that I haven’t actually formally said anything here, the publication-of-record for myself, as it were. With the increase in effort on LibraryBox as a result of the Knight Foundation Prototype grant funding and a general desire to find a way to be more effective in helping libraries in the US and around the world, I’m going to be transitioning into splitting my time between the LibraryBox Project and working as an independent consultant and speaker for libraries everywhere. This does mean that I will be moving out of my position at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga Library.

I don’t have a timetable for this move just yet. Leaving UTC is going to be incredibly hard, as it’s been my library home for nearly a decade now. We’re just a few months from opening our brand new academic library, something that has been the focus of my working life for nearly 7 years. But I find myself being drawn to helping libraries at a broader level than I can manage at a single institution. When I started at UTC, the library didn’t offer Microsoft Office on their computers, maintained a website that was just a series of flat HTML files, and had an IT department of 2. We have 4-5, soon to be 6-7 people dedicated to IT in the library now, we’ve managed 2 complete website revisions, gone through an ILS transition, more than doubled the number of computers we have available for students, launched a variety of blogs, an internal wiki, and a social media presence, and so much more. There is literally not a single part of the Library’s IT infrastructure that has not changed in the last 9 years, and I could not be prouder of what I’ve helped to accomplish at UTC. I’ve had fantastic managers, wonderful co-workers, and amazing friends at UTC that have supported me to this point in my library work, and I thank all of them from the bottom of my heart.

There is still much to do between now and leaving UTC, and I’m going to start blogging more regularly about the transition and what I can bring to libraries as a consultant and speaker. This is, as Warren Ellis says, “…a strange and not entirely comfortable time to be alive.” I’m excited about this next part of my library journey, partially because it scares me to death. I’m leaving a tenured Associate Professor position in order to build something that I created, on the hope that the library community finds it valuable enough to support.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing more about what I think I can bring to your organizations. For now, I’m going to work on finalizing my projects at UTC, try and find a way of handing off almost a decade of knowledge about the UTC Library, and keep my eyes focused on the horizon I’m driving towards. If you’d like to talk to me about consulting, speaking, or teaching for your library, organization, or conference, drop me a line at griffey at gmail.com.

LibraryBox store is officially open

As of RIGHT NOW, for the first time, LibraryBox is available for purchase at the LibraryBox online store. Previously only available to Kickstarter backers, individuals and organizations can now pre-order a LibraryBox v2.0 for shipment in March 2014. The cost for a standard LibraryBox (MR3020 based and with 16GB of storage) will be $150, with special editions available for $200 that include a customized 3D printed container for your LibraryBox.

For those techies out there: LibraryBox is and will always be open source. I’m not going to be removing your ability to build your own or anything like that. It’s just that there are libraries and schools where it doesn’t make sense for them to build them themselves, or they would prefer knowing that the LibraryBox they end up with is tested and guaranteed working. The v2.0 code is very close to a release candidate, and as soon as we verify the code and push it to release, I will be posting up links to the repository on Github.

Here’s a link to the press release.

I’m so excited to see this next step in the development of this project. I hope that you are, too.

CES 2014 and American Libraries

Once again I will be venturing forth in the first week of the new year in order to try and wrap my head around the largest consumer electronics convention in the world: CES 2104. Last year I tried a sort of crowd-funded coverage model, but this year I was approached by American Libraries to cover it for them! That means this year you’ll be getting my take on the newest tech over at the American Libraries Scoop blog, as well as here on Pattern Recognition. For anything that I think is of interest to libraries, I’ll be doing some video, photos, and write ups over on The Scoop, and then general tech stuff will be folded in here at PatRec. I’ll do some cross-linking so that people don’t miss anything, though. If you’d like to see the sort of coverage I’ve done in the past, you can take a look at the archives.

Here’s the bit where you can help! If you have any particular tech you’d like me to take a special look at, or company that you’d like some more info about…really, anything you’d like to know more about, let me know! You can leave a comment here on the post, or follow me on Twitter (@griffey) and let me know there. I’ll be tweeting pretty aggressively from CES, so it’ll be easy to follow along with what I’m seeing.

Let me know what you’d like to hear about, and I’ll do my best to find some information and share it.

#libtechgender: my world and hers

So I’m quoted in this truly excellent post over on Across Divided Networks by Andromeda Yelton (a pretty apt blog title, given the content of the post). As she notes, we were discussing this post on unpaid labor and open source software, which isn’t so much about that as it is the myth of meritocracy and the gender bias of open source.

I appreciate that she considers me a feminist, and it is very true that I work hard to listen and be aware of gender issues in librarianship and academia. One of my wife’s specialties is gender issues in Latin American literature, and we’ve spent much of our lives together talking about gender issues and feminist and queer literature. I have, all too often, been in a position of running interference for a female friend at a conference when an asshole didn’t take the hint that she wasn’t interested in talking/interacting/being the same space. It’s hard to even write that, since it has the capacity to come across as “oh look, the white academic technology guy to the rescue”…I assure you, that’s not the point. My point is that even with all this, even with years, decades of being aware and watchful and trying desperately to understand and affect the world to make it better for my friends and colleagues…I still didn’t realize. And that scares me, badly.

It scares me because, while I’ve self-identified as a feminist for decades, and tried to ensure that my actions reflected this, it wasn’t until 6 years ago that I got a dose of reality that shakes me daily.

image

It’s trite, but having a daughter changed everything. It changed how I looked at things, moved my attentions from “concerns about equals” (eg, my friends and colleagues) to trying to figure out how to reshape the world that revolves around someone who cannot affect it herself. Eliza is still a child, and while she’s pretty sure that she’s Very Grown Up by now, I know that the world is out there, waiting to push against her delight at technology. That there are boys who even now are in her class that tell her girls don’t build robots and I want to find a way to change that future. It wasn’t until Eliza that I realized that this particular fight wasn’t for the people I know, it’s not for my friends, much as I love all of you. It’s for her.

And that’s why I was so upset at not seeing. Because if it’s true, and that there are gaps in the world that are paradigm-chasms, that I can’t see across because I don’t have the right tools or because I don’t stand in the right place, then I don’t know if I’m seeing the things I need to change for her…if I’m helping to make the world a place that she can inhabit without fear. And all I can do is keep listening, and keep watching, and try like hell to support those that ARE capable of seeing and doing and changing, and I have to hope that it’s enough.

So please don’t give up, Andromeda and Rosy and Bess and Rachel and Jenica and Sarah and Cindi and Becky and Boyhun and Dorothea and all of the other incredible people who can see, and hear, and are fighting, fighting. Thank you, from me, but mostly for Eliza.

Atlanta Mini Maker Faire 2013

IMG_0901On Saturday morning, Oct 26th, I set out towards the Georgia Tech campus to be a Maker at the 2013 Atlanta Mini Maker Faire. Way back in August I was contacted by one of the organizers, David, who asked if I would be interested in setting up a table to promote LibraryBox. The organizers saw it as a result of the Kickstarter Campaign, and thought it would be a good project to have as a part of the Faire.

I couldn’t really turn down the opportunity to take LibraryBox and put it in front ofthat many people, especially people who were coming out and interested in Making things. I had with me one LibraryBox running on a 6600mAh battery, and another running off a solar panel (the first that I’m aware of, certainly the first I’ve built). I also had around 300 or so fliers I had printed, stickers, buttons, and other swag to give out to the slavering hoards.

Solar LibraryBox

The Faire opened at 10am, and I was totally unprepared for the onslaught. I know that people overuse the word “literally”, but I _literally_ only stopped talking for 10 seconds or so at a time between 10am and 5pm. There was a constant parade of people in front of me, usually 4-8 of them, all interested and asking questions. As with any tech product, I got a huge range of questions from the creepy (“Are you SURE that the NSA can’t track me if I share files on this thing”) to the technical (“So what’s the clockspeed of the chip this is running?”) to the spot on (“So we could use this to share files with other campers when we’re in the woods?”).

LibraryBox SwagI was totally out of fliers by 2pm, and had to grab the last one to tape it down so people could take pics with their cell phones. I came back with less than 10 stickers total (out of several hundred). And I gave away about $20 worth of halloween candy. It was awesome and cool and exhausting and I definitely want to do it again.

If anyone knows of any similar Maker style events in the southeast (or anywhere, really) that would benefit from having some LibraryBox action, drop me a note! I may start actively seeking out more of these sorts of events to try and get the word out.

Twitter & Nine Inch Nails

At about 1:50pm today, the Nine Inch Nails twitter account tweeted this:

I was browsing Twitter via Tweetbot on my phone while waiting for a document to load on my main computer when the tweet caught my eye. My first thought was “I didn’t know they were playing in TN” and then I noticed the geolocation stamp on the tweet: East Ridge, TN. That’s 10 minutes from my library, just up the road next to I-75.

!!!!!!!

My first thoughts were all about how to track down the location via technology. getting the latitude and longitude from the tweet and mapping it. Then I realized that you could very faintly see a sign in the background of the photo, but it was unreadable. But the photo looked like a motel, so a quick google search for “East Ridge, TN motel” got me a list of them…and the Waverly Motel was the winner. Easy to see the letters once you have a pattern to match them to.

Turns out, simple research work beats fancy tech solutions in this case, because…after quick drive out, a little bit of visual navigation to identify the dumpster location, and…
photo

 

I’m now the proud owner of a Hesitation Marks poster signed by what looks to be every member of Nine Inch Nails. OMFG.

Speaking to a new audience

So, as I write this, I am about 15 minutes from speaking in front of the Franklin County, TN School Board on the topic of prayer. The story leading up to this is here.

Below is the text of my statement. I can only hope that it does some good.

*****
Thank you to the School Board for giving me the time to speak. As a librarian, I value the open sharing of information, and as a parent the ability to share my thoughts with you is truly invaluable.

I do want to start with my closing statement, which is that I hope that the North Lake PTO, and any organization affiliated with public education, can see the issues that are involved in the insistence of an opening prayer, and choose to end the practice. There are two reasons that I believe this is the proper course of action, and in brief, they are:

First, that the insistence of having a prayer prior to a meeting of an organization that has such close ties to our public education system steps much too close to the legal line between church and state. There is a clear legal line that has been drawn repeatedly over the years through case law, as it relates to the protection of a central tenet of our Constitution, that the prejudicing of a single religion in affairs of the State is simply not allowed. While there has yet to be clear case law on the status of a PTO as it relates to the Freedom of Religion clause, anyone with familiarity with the law (and indeed the County’s own legal counsel) would advise that if there were a suit, it is likely that the PTO and the School Board associated with it, would lose.

We don’t have to like this fact, but not liking it doesn’t change the status of a fact…that’s what makes them facts.

Given that losing such a court case could potentially cost Franklin County hundreds of thousands of dollars that I, for one, would prefer be given to our amazing teachers, I would like to avoid the risk altogether. This is the first reason that I think that organizations that are affiliated with public schools shouldn’t endorse any particular religious view.

The second reason is that not only do I think it’s the practical thing to do, but it’s also the right thing. The priority of everyone associated with the educational system, whether formally or informally, should be to make the best use of the resources we have to ensure the excellence of the education of our children. Opening organizational meetings with a prayer is, by its nature, exclusionary to any Franklin County taxpayer of any differing faith. As we are a multi-denominational society, continuing on the existing path simply ensures a lack of multiple voices, as it indicates to those of differing faiths that their beliefs are not considered or respected. A multiplicity of voices is necessary in order to fully grasp an issue, to talk through and see all sides of a problem, and to ensure that the most effective and efficient solutions are pursued. As they say, none of us is as smart as all of us.

I have followed this discussion as it has evolved prior to today, and watched the brief film of the meeting from last Monday that appeared online, wherein several of the community members remarked that “Majority rules”. The majority of people in this room right now almost certainly see no problem with prayer before a meeting. But in this case, I say that it isn’t about what the majority is comfortable with, it’s about protecting the the voices and opinions of the minority. If you’ll allow me to quote Paul, from Romans 15:1 in the King James Version: “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Or in more modern language, from the New Living Translation “We who are strong must be considerate of those who are sensitive about things like this. We must not just please ourselves.”

In closing: I hope that the North Lake PTO, and any organization affiliated with public education, can see the issues that are involved in the insistence of an opening prayer, and choose to end the practice.

Thank you for listening, and I look forward to continuing this conversation, and hearing from Minister Tipps.

Kentucky and New South Wales

So over the next 10 days I will be doing talks in two different states, but also on two different continents. Here’s the details, if anyone is interested in coming to say hello!

Tomorrow I am driving up to beautiful Louisville, KY for the Kentucky Library Association Conference. I’m speaking twice on Thursday, once on mobile devices in libraries and once on the future of technology and media. As a native of that fine Commonwealth, I am very excited to be able to be a part of KLA. I’ll have a LibraryBox with me, sharing files as I go…if you have questions or just want a demo, find me and say hello!

Unfortunately, I am not able to stay as long as I wanted at KLA, and I have to head back south on Thursday evening and spend all day Friday packing like mad because on Saturday I leave to give a keynote at the New South Wales State Library in Sydney, Australia. I’m in Sydney all of the following week, and would very much like to have a meetup with all the awesome librarians there. I was thinking of something maybe Wednesday night, Sept 18, but I’m open to suggestions as to where…any natives want to speak out for their favorite pub? I’ll plan something, and send it out to the LibraryBox discussion group as well…maybe we can get some librarians and techies together in Sydney for a few rounds. Email me (griffey at gmail) if you have suggestions, or throw me a message @griffey on twitter.

I’m very excited to get to meet new librarians and talk technology…if you are attending one of the above events, please find me and introduce yourself.

Radio Silence != Downtime

There have been very, very few months in the 10+ year history of this blog where I didn’t post at all during a month, but July 2013 turned out to be one of those months. August nearly so, as it’s almost September now. There are lots of reasons, but it’s mostly because I’ve been doing huge amounts of Doing Things That Aren’t Writing, and even when I was writing I wasn’t writing for this site.  The rest of the Fall may be similarly sparse. Let’s rewind and catch up to everything that’s happened since last I posted:

  • The Kickstarter campaign for LibraryBox v2.0 raised 1100% of it’s funding goal, which is the best sort of problem to have. But even so, it’s still a series of increasingly complex problems that require serious time commitment.
  • As a result of suddenly being responsible for fulfillment of said popular Kickstarter, I started a company: Evenly Distributed LLC. You’ll hear more about that as the months go by.
  • I wrote a chapter for a book! In the grand tradition of print material, it will be approximately 2384734 years before anyone sees it, and it will be out of date already, but there you go. My chapter is about why Makerspaces in Libraries are more important for libraries than they are for patrons.
  • Over the next 4 months, I’ll be presenting at the Kentucky Library Association Conference, the State Library of New South Wales eResources meeting, doing a talk for the National Digital Stewardship Alliance Outreach Working Group of the Library of Congress, manning a table at the Atlanta Mini Maker Faire, presenting at LITA Forum, and then taking a vacation.
  • And somewhere in all this, I will set up a workshop and crank out 180 or so LibraryBoxen to ship to Backers all around the world.

This is a weird life, this professional thing I’ve carved out for myself. But I love everything about it, which makes all the difference.