On 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.
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?”).
I 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.
At about 1:50pm today, the Nine Inch Nails twitter account tweeted this:
Tennessee: We dropped a signed poster at the coordinates of this tweet. White tube behind the dumpsters. pic.twitter.com/nA7gXpNH21
— nine inch nails (@nineinchnails) October 23, 2013
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.
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.
Attention all Sydney librarians and technologists! Looks like there’s going to be a tweetup while I’m down under, and here are the details:
Thursday, Sept 19th
The Barber Shop
89 York Street
I’ll be there, LibraryBox in hand! Come say hi, and let’s have some drinks and talk some tech.
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.
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.
Way back in February and March of 2012, I had an idea that was to basically try and take the “pirate” out of the PirateBox project, and make it more friendly to use by libraries. I called this fork LibraryBox, and I rushed during those two months to finish it in time to take it with me to Computers in Libraries 2012 to test it.
That initial 1.0 version was very rough, absolutely a bespoke build and wasn’t something that was easily replicated. It was a proof of concept, though, that was interesting enough that some began to use it, experiment with it, and find it valuable enough to stick with despite its difficulties. But it was clear that making the installation process easier and less error-prone was the primary goal for moving forward.
So I plugged away as I could, and in October 2012 I was able to release v1.5 of LibraryBox, and a complete redesign of the accompanying Web site. The v1.5 was faster, easier to install, and a huge improvement, but only a small step towards what the project could be. The community that sprang up around the v1.5 has also been more robust, and as it grew the list of enhancements grew alongside it. These included the need for anonymous usage statistics, even easier installation, alternative energy sources such as solar, and more direct editing of the pages that LibraryBox serves.
The project has grown from an idea to something that is being used in 14 countries on 5 different continents, by educators, librarians, and technologists trying to distribute digital information in places off the grid. There is a huge list of things that should be done with LibraryBox, and it’s gotten to the point where I simply can’t do them…for both technical proficency and simple logistical reasons. But the project is something I believe in, something that I want to see succeed and be used in even more places. The only way forward that I could see was to find money that could be traded for the expertise and time of someone other than myself.
Thus it is with great excitement that I announce the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to support LibraryBox v2.0. It is a meager amount of money that I am asking for ($3000) and I could easily use 3-5x that amount in various ways…but I wanted to ensure that the project stays true to its open source roots. If you think that LibraryBox is worth supporting, back it for some amount…but more importantly, spread the word. LibraryBox is much larger than just libraries, and the more eyeballs that see the campaign page the more likely it is that it could gather some attention outside of the LibraryLand that we all know and love.
I’m incredibly excited about the project. I’m terrified of seeing how it does on Kickstarter, and if people can grok the potential in the way that the LibraryBox community has. And I’m really looking forward to continuing to work on the project.
Help make LibraryBox great along with me.
Starting Monday, May 13th, I’ll be starting one of the more unusual speaking gigs of my library career: a roadtrip through the state of Mississippi. I’ll be traveling with a couple of members of the Mississippi State Library Commission, doing training sessions in 4 different cities in 4 different parts of the state in 5 days. Starting in northern MS, I’ll be going from Booneville to Greenville to Flowood to Bay St. Louis, north to south for the distance of the state.
I’ve done plenty of workshops and trainings and presentations before, but this is the first time I’ll be doing the same training this many times this quickly. I’ve also never really been through Mississippi before, and I’m excited to see the state from my car, and have the ability to stop and look around if I’d like.
So: if anyone out there is in MS and wants to say “hey”, come be a part of the training in question. Or give me a yell and maybe we can have a drink one of the nights I’m driving through your area. It’s gonna be interesting.
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.
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.