I went to a panel discussion the â€œCatalog Transformedâ€ featuring Andrew Pace, John Blyberg, Jina Wakimoto, Jill Newby and Cindy Levine. Andrew showed off their Endeca-based OPAC and explained why it had a feature set that ran circles around all the other currently available tools. Cindy did some sample searches and generally showed the thing off. John Blyberg, speaking about his ILS Customers Bill of Rights started out this way, “How many people in this room are satisfied with their OPAC?” No one raised their hand… except for, after a moment, Andrew Pace. Bump, set, spike.
I’m in New Orleans and arrived safe and sound depsite the same travel problems that everyone else seemed to have. I’m in the Council information session listening to Leslie Burger talk about (I might say “defend”) her Library Corps idea which I have mentioned before in these pages. It was interesting to see some people’s responses to it, and her responses to them. I should be blogging for the PLA Blog on and off over the next few days.
I’m interested in this particularly because I moderate and contribute to a similar but more blog-oriented site called Ask MetaFilter. The idea is simple. It’s a place where the 38,000+ members of the MetaFilter community blog can go ask each other questions and get answers. You can categorize and tag your questions, and everyone in the community gets to ask a maximum of one question a week. There’s a feature for marking “best answer,” marking favorite posts to keep track of, and asking anonymous questions which is quite popular. Each question has its own RSS feed. So does each tag. There’s a $5 [lifetime] barrier to entry that keeps the site from becoming just a one-off “free questions answered here!” site and there’s a group we informally call the MeFiBrarian Posse of info professionals (some of whom I’m sure you know) that answer questions like this one that I answered this week which seem like more typical reference questions. I’ve answered over 2300 questions since the beginning of 2004 and you can read every one of them. Going to where the user is, indeed.
I don’t know much about the traffic side of things, but MetaFilter is one of Technorati’s Top 100 blogs and AskMetafilter gets about as much traffic as the main part of the site. I spend a lot of time there keeping questions on track, helping write and organize the FAQ, putting out fires, enforcing the community guidelines, and being one of the human faces of a very effective website. I am the only librarian on a staff of three. I know I spend an awful lot of time talking about my small libraries and their trials and tribulations, but it’s worth knowing that there are also jobs in the online world at all that can test the mettle of even the most super-social and savvy librarian.
Here is my schedule for ALA. I am even more interested than usual in meeting new people or hanging out with people I don’t see often enough. I know this would be easier if I had a cell phone, but hey I’ve got Wifi in the bizarre swampland they call JFK airport . I also know there’s free Wifi in the convention center [instructions here], so remember my contact info from the previous post and get in touch.
I wanted to call this post, “blogging trumps life” but since that’s not strictly true, allow me to explain.
I had dinner with Meredith Farkas and Brian Smith last night, and we had a bang-up time talking about social software, libraries, television, arborists, etc. I’m in the middle of finalizing my schedule for ALA and I’m also in the middle of a mostly mutual split with my longtime partner (more details may wind up on my personal site, they will likely not be here). The reason this is apropos and these things are linked, is that I started this relationship before the dawn of most social software and the ubiquitous presence of “network” in my life, and I’m ending it afterwards.
This means that I need to figure out not only who gets the change jar, but also whether I should call myself single on my MySpace account [Did you know there is no way to leave your relationship status blank on MySpace?] or whether it’s possible to write down things that are happening in my life without stepping on toes or turning into a heart-on-my-sleeve tell-all blogger while at the same time, making sure I let my friends know what’s up with me. Do I take my ex off my buddy list? Do I remove his blog from my RSS feed reader? Should I stop commenting on his Flickr pictures or block him from commenting on mine? How many passwords do I need to change? Do I deauthorize his computer from my iTunes store? Miss Manners has very little guidance on these matters and yet in my world many of these choices have implications as deep or deeper than if I was pillaging his CD collection or changing the locks while he’s away (metaphorically speaking that is, in Vermont I don’t have a key to the place I live).
In an age where many people in the online world voluntarily give up certain amounts of privacy in the name of connectedness, figuring out how and when to get that privacy back — if you even want it — really drives home the social part of social software. This post began as a draft a few weeks ago which was just a list of the different ways that me, the real human who writes this site, exists in the multifaceted online world since I figure some of you are there too and maybe we could hang out, so I’ll wrap-up with that. If anyone is interested in connecting either in the real world of ALA or Vermont or elsewhere, or the online world of all these other places, please say hello.
Jessamyn’s Social Spaces
[in rough order of frequency of use]
chat: jessamyn_west at MSN/Yahoo, iamthebestartist on AIM, jessamyn at gtalk/gmail, iamthebestartist on Skype
blogs: this one, abada abada, booklist. I use livejournal to keep up with my friends who blog there, and I spend a little time at Vox [want a Vox invite? Email me]
jobs: Metafilter, moderator and user jessamyn
social stuff: Flickr, del.icio.us/jessamyn, Wikipedia, Technorati, LibraryThing profile and catalog, Last.fm, LinkedIn, MySpace, CouchSurfing.com, Facebook
It’s a long list, but rest assured I still take long walks by the river and read books in my actual public library. I’ve found that the balance between the super-techie online world and my wonderfully offline local area is one that suits me. See you at ALA, or see you online.