Earlier today, I tweeted:
Ok, everyone. The word “glasshole” is neither funny nor useful. Why not try actually talking about the tech and social norms?
— Jason Griffey (@griffey) April 30, 2013
Which seemed to me to be a pretty non-radical point to make. But given the responses I’ve garnered, it looks like a brief expansion of the thought might be worth it on my part. So here’s my take on it:
I find the term dismissive, and moreover, deliberately insulting. “Glasshole” seems to be used as a hand-waving way of not actually discussing the technology behind Glass and instead relying on ad hominem in its place. Full disclosure: I’m fascinated by the possibilities, and given a pair, I’d happily wear Glass around and see where it was useful, how it could enhance or detract from my interactions with information and technology. But I simply do not grok the casual dismissal of them for their appearance or even for the privacy concerns that many have regarding them. It looks to me like the obvious next-step of the ever-more-personal technologies of the last 2 decades, just like it seems pretty obvious that wearable computing is a natural result of Moore’s law when combined with ubiquitous networking.
I am a technological determinist when it comes to the progress of hardware, I fully admit. Technology will continue to get faster, smaller, cheaper, and it will continue to use less and less power to do these things. This results in strange and unusual things, some of which will be wearable things that communicate with us and the world around us in ways that may seem foreign to us here and now. But so did walking down the street talking on the phone at one point in our near-past technological history.
Clay Shirky said in Here Comes Everybody that “Communications tools don’t get socially interesting until they get technologically boring.” Right now, Glass is technologically interesting. Yes, it will have social implications, but the really interesting bits (the bits that I think are worth talking about) are emergent after the technology is already in place. We didn’t get the Arab Spring without a bit of a perfect storm of technologies that had become commonplace…the cellular phone, SMS, Twitter. Glass is one tiny, tiny step towards truly immersive connectivity. What will that do to society, to interactions, to information? Will we end up with Strange Days or with Rainbows End? Or with the corporatized information future that William Gibson warned us about? I just don’t know. But I’m incredibly uncomfortable seeing a term used that denigrates the user of a technology, especially a brand new technology, when we’ve got no idea how it’s going to turn out to be useful, or not. I’m never going to be ok with insulting another human being as a part of a discussion.
Here are the slides from my presentation from Computers in Libraries 2013 about Open Hardware & Libraries. The overall concept is that in the same way that libraries have benefited from open source software, we should now be examining how open hardware could benefit us. The open platforms of the Arduino and the Raspberry Pi are empowering us to collect data in new and interesting ways, and this could be very, very valuable for libraries. We should start now.
On Feb 14, I got an intriguing email from Brian Matthews about a special edition of the Journal of Library Administration he was editing. It was a request for a chapter for an edition of the journal called Imagining the Future of Libraries, and the Brian’s pitch to me was enough to make me very interested:
[Brian]I’d love for you to contribute an essay around the topic of technology. Beyond most digital collections. Beyond everyone and everything mobile— what unfolds then?
I mean, if I have a specialty, this is it. I love nothing more than I love a good dose of futurism, and told him so. My one concern was the Journal’s publisher, Taylor & Francis, and the fact that I refuse to sign over my copyright on work I create. I’m happy to license it in any number of ways that gives the publisher the rights they need to distribute the work, but I won’t write something for someone else to own. From my reply email to him:
[Me]…there are definitely some details that I’d love to know before I commit. Just to check, this is the same Journal of Library Administration that’s published by Routledge/Talor & francis, correct? What is their author agreement like? I’m pretty dedicated to OA, and wouldn’t be willing to agree to any publication restrictions beyond something like a very short exclusivity clause.
Brian replied with a link he found to Taylor & Francis’ author agreement, which I read…and then responded, a bit more pointedly:
[me] I’ll be blunt: there is no situation in which I’d sign copyright over the T&F…or, frankly, anyone. I’m very happy to sign a license of limited exclusivity (say, 30-90 days) for publication, or license the work generally under a CC license and give T&F a specific exemption on NC so they can publish it. But their language about “Our belief is that the assignment of copyright in an article by the author to us or to the proprietor of a journal on whose behalf we publish remains the best course of action for proprietor and author alike, as assignment allows Taylor & Francis, without ambiguity, to assure the integrity of the Version of Scholarly Record, founded on rigorous and independent peer review. ” is just…well, bollocks.
I am very interested in the topic, and I’ve got a ton to say about it…would love to write it. But we’d have to work out the copyright issue.
Brian’s response from a week or so later indicated that the combination of speed of production (the deadline for the chapters was May 1) and the lack of communication from Taylor and Francis meant this wasn’t going to work out for me to be involved. I was bummed, but totally understood and let him know that I’d love to work on something else with him when the stakes were different.
Our conversation lasted just a couple of weeks, from Feb 14 to Mar 1. Imagine my surprise today when I saw a tweet from Meredith Farkas that said the editorial board of the Journal of Library Administration just resigned because of T&F practices.
Wow! Did the entire Journal of Library Administration editorial board just resign over Taylor & Francis’ practices? Mad props to them!
— Meredith Farkas (@librarianmer) March 23, 2013
Turns out that Brian himself seemingly broke the news in a blog post. From that post:
“A large and growing number of current and potential authors to JLA have pushed back on the licensing terms included in the Taylor & Francis author agreement. Several authors have refused to publish with the journal under the current licensing terms.”
“Authors find the author agreement unclear and too restrictive and have repeatedly requested some form of Creative Commons license in its place.”
“After much discussion, the only alternative presented by Taylor & Francis tied a less restrictive license to a $2995 per article fee to be paid by the author. As you know, this is not a viable licensing option for authors from the LIS community who are generally not conducting research under large grants.”
“Thus, the Board came to the conclusion that it is not possible to produce a quality journal under the current licensing terms offered by Taylor & Francis and chose to collectively resign.”
Between this, and Chris Bourg’s blog post about this event, it sounds like the editorial board had been working for some time to convince T&F of how much they needed to change their expectations for author licensing. Since their requests seemingly fell on deaf ears, they took the only step really offered them, and withdrew from their positions.
I applaud them this decision. I fully understand that I speak from a position of privilege, as I have the ability to turn down writing opportunities such as this without it effecting my career negatively, and that what I’m about to say is said from this same position, but: No scholar should be producing work, whether that work be the creation of content, editing of content, or other, for entities which insist that they are doing you a favor by taking away your rights or the rights of those you represent. I could not in good conscience write a piece that I would have very much enjoyed writing for a publisher that was intent on depriving me of my ownership of that selfsame work. And I am incredibly pleased that the editorial board came to that same conclusion, and that they could no longer support said deprivation.
Brian: if you would still like my participation in that collection, and you find another outlet for it that does respect author’s rights, I’m all ears. To the editorial board, and especially to Damon Jaggers: Bravo! Let us hope that all of you move on to journals that respect the makers of the work they rely on.
Because this post is going to be about people for whom I think you should vote, I will begin with a disclaimer: The opinions below are mine, and mine alone, and I am not speaking in any role other than as an ALA Member with thoughts about the best choices for office.
Now that that little prelude is out of the way, here’s my take on the upcoming elections. These are the people that I think could make a difference in ALA, will make good decisions and guide the organization well, and are the most likely to leave the thing better than when they started. I also think that they represent the best parts of libraries and librarians, and would be positive role models for this, the professional service aspect of our job.
I don’t have opinions on every election outcome, because boy-o there’s a lot of them. But the few that I do care about, here’s who I will be voting for, and who I recommend you vote for as well.
Always a big decision, but not always such an exciting set of candidates. This time around, I am thrilled beyond telling that Courtney Young is among the candidates. Courtney is smart as a whip, understands the issues, and will bring a new perspective to the office that gets me excited to see what she will do. I think Courtney would make an great ALA President. I hope that I get the chance to see her as such.
The list here is long, as always, but I think that the following are a great set of librarians who I want to empower to help run our organization: Lauren Pressley, Erica Findley, John Jackson, Kate Kosturski, Chris Kyauk, Coral Sheldon-Hess, and Patrick Sweeney. There are probably more that I’m forgetting, but I’ll add them as I find them on my ballot.
EDIT: Additional Council candidates that I would recommend: Loida Garcia-Febo, Kevin Reynolds, Edward Sanchez.
LITA Board of Directors
Oh, this is tough. The LITA board slate (Andromeda Yelton, Jason Battles, Brett Bonfield, and Jennifer Reiswig) is an amazing group of people. There are, truly, no bad choices in that field, and I think that’s great for LITA. You can’t go wrong. Me? I’m going to be voting for Andromeda and Brett, for a ton of reasons, but mainly because I think the two of them bring interesting perspectives to LITA that could broaden its horizons in ways that are needed.
So there’s my thoughts on the ALA elections. Democracy in action, people! Make sure you vote!
This past Saturday, I and Bo Baker represented the UTC Library by taking part in the 2013 Chattanooga Maker Day. Held on the 4th Floor of the Chattanooga Public Library, this event was the first in what I hope to be many examples of the awesome tech potential and talent found in Chattanooga.
The theme of the day was a “3D Throwdown”, with Makers bringing their 3D printers and printed objects, setting up demos of 3D design, local businesses that were related to 3D technology doing demos and answering questions…it was like a mini-Maker Faire just for 3D printing. And the turnout of people was incredible. From 11am until 4pm when we closed up, it was a non-stop parade of people, kids and parents and grandparents, all who came out to ask questions and see how this tech works.
I will say, from my perspective, the most amazing moments at the event were the kids who were just wide-eyed at the objects these printers could create. The printers themselves whirring and beeping and generally sounding like droids from Star Wars made the kids aware of a part of their future they didn’t know existed, and it was incredible to see their mind light up with the possibilities.
As far as MPOW, we had dozens of UTC students come through, all of them with the same two exclamations on their lips. First was “You guys are from _the Library_?” and second “The Library is gonna have _this_ for us to use? NO WAY!”. It was a great way to show off the direction that the library is taking, moving into the creative spaces that are so ripe and ready to bloom. We’re still 9 months from opening the new building, but I’m so excited about what that space is going to enable us to do with and for our patrons.
But Maker Day was about more than just our patrons. It was about showing people the potential of Chattanooga in this new manufacturing space. It was about showing them the building blocks for the future of the community. Chattanooga has The Gig, it has incredibly talented people, and it has a chance to be one of the great technology hubs of the United States. We just have to put all the pieces together the right way, and the groups that put on Maker Day (the Public Library, Co.Lab, and many others) are printing those pieces of our future.
In a recent article on Wired, Joi Ito (director of the MIT Media Lab) outlined 9 rules for businesses dealing with the future that technology is bringing to us all. I think these apply to organizations of all sorts, and aren’t a bad starting place for understanding how a modern organization should behave.
- Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
- You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
- You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
- You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
- You want to have good compasses not maps.
- You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t know why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
- It disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
- It’s the crowd instead of experts.
- It’s a focus on learning instead of education.
I think there’s a lot of potential here for libraries to learn from, but #2 and #4 seem to speak directly to us. My personal favorite is #7, but that’s probably not a surprise to anyone who knows me.
After my own attempt at ask-economics for CES in January, the TED talk by Amanda Palmer entitled The Art of Asking rang in my head after watching it. So many interesting things to draw from that, but the one I’m holding on to for the moment is Trust. Trust your audience, and keep asking when you need. So I will, when I need.
Above is the weighted tag cloud of the text of President Obama’s State of the Union 2013 address. This is part of a series that I’ve done over the last 7 years, starting way back in 2007, as part of a visualization of what is on the minds of Americans. It’s fascinating to see what changes over the years, and what stays steady. Check out 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 linked for your convenience. The issues are stark as you look across the years…from security and terrorism to jobs and the economy over the last 7 years.
As a sort of wrap-up for my CES2013 coverage, I decided to advertise and present a live, interactive online webinar driven by Google Hangouts. That happened today, and this is the resultant video presentation. The first 57 minutes and 30 seconds or so is me talking through a slideshow on trends and the effect said trends may have on libraries, while the last half-hour is me taking questions from the chat room, twitter, and from the brave souls who took time out of their day to join me in the Hangout and ask questions.
As I said in my initial plan for attending and covering CES2013, “…for the very first time decided to experiment with crowdfunding something I’m doing and ask for donations. Or, to put it a different way, I’m becoming a busker for the trip.” This trip had no sponsors, and while I haven’t gotten the full stats on how many people watched the Hangout, watched my video reports, read my blog entries, or just laughed at some of my pictures, at this point many dozens-to-hundreds of people have seen my work. Of those, exactly 4 have decided that what I was doing was worth paying for.
This isn’t me complaining about that! This was and is an experiment, and if I don’t let people know the results, then it’s not really an experiment that others can learn from. I promised transparency, so here it is: I received 4 donations from 4 individuals: $10, $20, $20, and one incredibly kind soul for $50, bringing my grand total for donations to $95.30 after Paypal fees. I find this a fascinating response, given that it is routine for educational opportunities exactly of this sort (literally, I have given them) to cost many hundreds of dollars. This was free, available for anyone…and yet. And yet.
Lots to think about! But in the meantime, I’m going to continue to produce content and write and speak and read and think about technology and libraries. If you think what I’ve done here is worth paying for, I’m going to leave the donation option open for a bit longer, just to see if people finding this after the fact decide to chip in. I will, of course, continue to report on the experiment. Thanks to everyone who watched, commented, joined in, or hopefully learned something about the tech of CES2013.
One last video for today, just a short example of the new Lego Mindstorms EV3. They had a really great setup that showed off the sorts of detailed interactions you can set up with these things, and the power of having them talk to your smartphone is really interesting. Again, for any library that uses Lego as an activity for kids/youth groups, this seems like a no-brainer to keep an eye on.
I'm Jason Griffey, a librarian, technologist, writer and speaker. This is my personal/professional blog, but I also write Release Candidate (focusing on future tech) and for the ALA TechSource blog. Visit my homepage for more.