happy birthday to me, from the writer’s desk

I always skip my blog’s birthday because it’s 4/20 which is on or near Earth Day, the holiday of stoners everywhere, and usually school vacation. So hey, my blog is now eleven! And I write in it much less than I used to. Partly this is because I’ve got a 1000 word/day minimum writing deal with myself getting my book out the door. I just noticed you can pre-order it from Amazon which sort of freaks me out. I set up a page for the book but there’s really nothing there yet. I hope the cover looks okay. Partly I’ve been doing a lot of other things. Though my crazy six weeks of travel is over — with a whimper, not a bang, since I didn’t get to PLA which displeases me — I’ve been doing my tech work in town and started riding my bike around a lot more. Spring is delightful here.

I’m still answering a lot of library-type emails (someone looking for a copy of DDC 20, got one?) and working at MetaFilter which contains more than its share of writing. I seem to be pouring more of my “this is why the digital divide is important” efforts into the book, though I’ve been pulling out little snippets here and there.

And I gave a talk about Open Source and why it’s important to small libraries at a local conference for educators recently. The notes for the talk are here: Solving Problems with FOSS- What works and doesn’t work in Vermont’s Libraries. It was a great talk but I think I aimed it for more of a library-ish audience and teachers and IT folks have different goals. I did get to talk to a lot of people in my region about what sorts of tech things work and don’t work, and saw a great presentation about MYTH-TV, an open source alternative to home DVR stuff. Fascinating stuff. Interesting times.

Photo is from this post at inhabitat about this art exhibit.

music to my ears

“See https://code.nla.gov.au/ for open source code from the National Library of Australia” [thanks roy]

why don’t librarians like to give their code away?

Dale Askey has written a great column on how libraries “share and fail to share open source software” and looks into some of the reasons that might be the case.

wedging open source into your library effectively

It’s great to mess around with open source tools if you’re geeky and techie. However what if, like many small libraries and solo librarians, you’re not? PALINET has been looking at open source tools and I really really like what PALINET is doing to make using an open source ILS a genuine option for their member libraries. Way to actually address the problem PALINET, nice job.

PALINET is aware that not all of our members have the technical support or skills necessary to install or test the open source applications that are currently available. We’re looking at a number of ways to address this issue, but we’ve taken two initial steps already. First, a member Technology Caucus has begun regular discussions of open source software tools in monthly meetings. Yesterday, a group of library developers met at the PALINET offices in Philadelphia to install test copies of Koha and Evergreen for evaluation and comparison. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to put together a couple of really clean, well integrated, model systems, which will demonstrate the kind of functionality that is possible with these open source ILS solutions.


Just say “NO” to RTFM or why there aren’t more women in open source?

This is loosely related to libraries, but it is related to FOSS [free and open source software] which many libraries are using or contemplating. One of the things that is consistently stressed as a benefit of open source stuff is that when you pay for people to work on your software, you are hiring talent, not paying for licenses at giant megacorporations. For some of us, this is an unqualified good thing. However, compared to megacorporation software projects, there are many fewer women working on open source projects.

Some of this has to do with the nature of the open source community, some of it has to do with technology generally. When my little video got a ton of views on YouTube, I sort of made a joke that I would know it was a success when the marriage proposals started trickling in. Other non-techies looked at me strangely when I said this, but sure enough when you look at the comments, you’ll see it. I find it all pretty amusing and not some sort of “evidence” of any sort of sexism, but I do think it points out that a woman with even a passing competency in this areana [and I'm techie but nothing like, say, Karen Coombs] is such an anomaly that people just stop and stare. I’d like more nerdy lady friends who do this sort of stuff, so I’ve been reading up on it. I found a few good things to read and I’d like to share them with you.