Empowerment Through Information Technology


Jessamyn West


Choice? Why? And for whom?

Our patrons are not homogenous. It would be much easier if they were. Since they don't agree on everything, the "experts" at the public library step in to help out....

Quick Tech Anecdote for Starters

So, how was life at the 3rd largest library in the state? Who do we have for leaders? DoL, Microsoft, local wifi initiatives, education folks?

Jessamyn's 80/20 "rule"

80% of everything works perfectly and 20% doesn't.
graph showing 80 per cent and 20 percent slices on a pie chart

Do you focus on the 80, or the 20? People need to do both, but someone needs to fix what's broken.

What Does This Have to Do With Politics?

I work with and for the public. I can use public resources to address various sociopolitical concerns, if I decide to. Such as... What about less obvious, or more nuanced examples? it's all about choices, and choosing FOR one thing often means choosing AGAINST something else.... like the internet being the world's biggest library.... overt rules and decisions often create unforseen and unintended consequences. I'll talk about a few of them

New, Incoming and Imagined Technologies

aaron with RFIC chip in head
what can you do? keep your technolust in check, require accountability for all spending, not just materials budgets, make sure funding follows existing priorities. [difference between privacy policy in the US and Europe] ["follow the money" example: post 9/11 homeland security, you have technology and you have aggressive marketing of technology]


who do you have a relationship with

Watch what the vendor says & know what to ask them. professional ethics, you have divergent goals

what can you do? careful planning, current awareness of new technologies & NETWORKING to see what your colleagues are dealing with. Learn the vocab so you can speak effectively to vendors: XML, blogs, RSS, APIs, &c.

Public Access Computing

[people lining up to use a public computer] what can you do? technology planning will ease the pain, all time spent at home reading Slashdot is now "research", know that there will always be some bugs. Learn about Open Source and good alternatives to expensive applications.

User Interface Design

search box what can you do? customize it, open source systems [Koha], and support, and in-house techs, learn about design

Filtering, for Productivity or Otherwise

filtering gets crazy sometimes antidotes: Peacefire, further reading, links about the US/CIPA situation, open source filtering

Laws: USA PATRIOT Act [and similar laws]

Laws: Copyright

what can you do? how comfortable are you being a test case?

CreativeCommons, stay informed [ALIA example] and inform others, a pro-active response beats waiting for the knock on the door. Learn about Open Access models like PLoS

One Last Poem

In the beginning was the word,
How carefully that word was chosen.
The word that allows yes, the word that makes no possible.
The word that puts the free in freedom and takes the obligation out of love.
The word that throws a window open after the final door is closed.
The word upon which all adventure, all exhilaration, all meaning, all honor depends.
The word that fires evolution's motor of mud.
The word that the cocoon whispers to the caterpillar.
The word that molecules recite before bonding.
The word that separates that which is dead from that which is living.
The word no mirror can turn around.
In the beginning was the word and that word was


«  bibliography & credits »

Jessamyn West is the editor of the weblog and the co-editor of Revolting Librarians Redux. Her latest writing about technology appears in the Vermont Library Association newsletter. IM her at iamthebestartist.

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