Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Want to be Miserable? No? Are you sure??

One day last week I forgot something I was supposed to do. It was an event where I was expected and for which I had accepted the invitation. In my defense I am perpetually attending similar events and I was in a post-migraine fog. But that did NOT stop me from feeling terrible about it. I sent my regrets and should have then moved on to the next item on my considerable list of things to do without giving it any more thought. That is what I would have advised a friend in the same situation to do. But was that what I did? Oh no, not me. I masticated, ruminated, and self-flagellated for the rest of the day. I have perfected this set of actions and now am really, really good at the process. That evening I was gloomily beating myself up a little more and performed some sort of pitiful search--have forgotten the terms I used. I came across this site:
Wow! I thought! I am doing every one of these things! Also I noticed the URL. Hmmmm maybe I was not being so smart. It made me laugh and I found myself feeling better on the spot. The experience provided a much needed kick in the pants and I bookmarked the site with some appropriate tags.

But wait! There's more! I started looking around the Dumb Little Man site. There are all kinds of tips to help you be less dumb about a plethora of things! There is a section on technology, with titles such as How To Effectively Manage Your Online Reputation and other topics that are worth considering in today's high pressure, information driven world and life. You can even buy a t-shirt that has a rain cloud and lightening on it to wear on days when you are feeling especially gloomy and dumb. I am resisting the temptation to order for now, in favor of taking a more positive outlook instead. Too often I remind myself of Joe Btfsplk. Remember him? He was the guy in Lil' Abner comics who always had a rain cloud above his head: Joe Btfsplk
I don't think I am alone in needing a reminder not to be like poor ol' Joe. Anyone else want to own up?

What a Great Day!

It may appear like I engineered my previous post as a set-up for this one, but I am not that much of a planner, especially when it comes to this space and my somewhat sporadic postings. But the other day I wrote about "story being the killer app," and then yesterday I was lucky enough to get to hear Laurie Halse Anderson and Jon Scieszka speak. The occasion was the newly named Jan Paris Book Fest. This is actually the 37th year for the conference to be offered by Sam Houston State University Department of Library Science, but this is the first year under the new name. Dr. Jan Paris was the founder of the conference and also the person who originated the Texas Bluebonnet Award. I think she would be proud to be remembered this way.

Another big change was that we held the conference in Corpus Christi rather than in Huntsville. This change was the vision of Dr. Holly Weimar and Dr. Tricia Kuon, who organized the event. The reason was to provide an opportunity for our South Texas and Rio Grande Valley students and alumni to attend. And come they did! Every seat in the ESC Region 2 Center was full. There were also workshops and poster sessions to round out the perfect day. In a time when funds are limited and travel is a luxury many cannot afford, it is very encouraging to see this event florish. I want to talk about both speakers in two more blog entries so I can do justice to their presentations. But here's to a great day, a great conference, and two unforgettable keynote addresses. And special thanks to Drs. Kuon and Weimar for your hard work!

Nancy Pearl was right in the thick of things, of course. Above she is at the dinner the night before, enjoying some dessert.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Something New?? Really?

Everything old is new again! The opening keynote speaker at this past week's Internet Librarian West conference talked about change...rapid change. Of course she did. Change is always the driving force at gatherings where technology is the topic. She gave statistics that illustrate the dizzying rate at which information is proliferating. It was a little daunting. She went on to warn that civilizations don't fall for usual reasons that we learned about in  school. Instead she cautioned that too much progress in a very short  time can cause all traditions of a society to be deemed less relevant, thus leading to downfall. The trick is to cull out the trivial, irrelevant, and just plain poop. Well, librarians are good at that. So maybe we can be the ones to save our civilization! We are trying...I can attest to that!

In the course of her speech, she made a couple of other statements that stuck with me. Did you know that the word sticky has a whole new range of meanings now? Several conference speakers referred to sticky facts or sticky information. There are even some apps using the word this way, starting with good old sticky notes. I guess time will tell whether the new connotation sticks around. Anyway two points she made stuck with me:
1. The power of one person should not be underestimated (this was yesterday's blog topic)
2. Second, and this is a direct quote: STORY is the new killer app.

STORY IS NOT NEW and hearing it is still important resonated with me. My Grandmother Fitzgerald raised seven kids and launched a passel of grandkids, all who loved her stories. She was a raconteur of the highest order. She could turn an everyday event into a comic extravaganza. She was good at true (though mightily embellished) stories and also strictly made-up ones. I now have her sewing rocker, the one that she used to tell us kids was a vehicle that enabled her in her dreams to travel all over the world. All it would take to get us settled down was for her to say, "I had another dream about my rocking chair last night."

Librarians, parents, teachers, songwriters and authors are the keepers of stories. We are the ones who make sure stories live on and new ones come along to enthrall listeners. The Internet just gives us new venues for them: ebooks, YouTube, VoiceThread, blogs, wikis, and all the other wonderful new tools. So long live stories! I don't think they are in trouble in our country. And that gives me hope in a scary world on this day after Halloween.

POST SCRIPT:  I have said this before but if you get a chance, do attend an Information Today conference. The ones I attend are Internet Librarian and Inteernet@School West. Both are top notch, and they come around twice a year--every fall in Monterey, CA and every spring in Washington DC. So you get a great destination as well as a fantastic conference. Oh and of course my buddy Nancy Pearl went along. I am sharing a picture of her enjoying the coast. She insists on wearing the SHSU spirit sticker that she got at a tailgate party just before the trip.