Heroes in a half shell

July 26, 2006

In Cowabunga, Dude, Jane notes that “they” are releasing a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie.

My best movie-going story ever is from my …hmmm, must’ve been just after my Jr. year of college. My best friend David and I decided to go to the last showing of TMNT. This was right after school had ended for pretty much everyone, and even the larger town we went to (the one with the theater) was pretty quiet.

So, we go to the theater. It’s empty. We buy tickets and go into the actual screening room.

It was totally empty. Not a single other person. In fact, it turns out, there was no one there seeing any other movie at that point. Except we two 21 year olds watching TMNT.

We’ve got our popcorn. The entire multiplex is ours. The lights go dim…

And the pimple-faced kid comes in and yells at us to get our feet off the backs of the seats in front of us.

I don’t remember much about the movie, but the idea that we were the only movie-goers for — wow, probably at least 15 miles — and still managed to get yelled at, well, I wear it as a badge of honor.


Email goin’ down???

July 24, 2006

Library Stuff has a tongue-in-cheek post about how email is finally “losing” to things like social networking sites, IM, etc. It’s easy to make fun of email. It’s easy to hate email with the burning passion of a thousand suns, in fact, and most of us do.

But it’s also easy to forget that email does a few things really well. Asynchronous messages, queued up and ready to be read, labeled, sorted, and searched, with clear senders and recipients (let’s ignore spam for a moment). Email runs into problems when we try to use it as a todo list, or as semi-synchronous communication, or as a replacement for a real filing system.

The spam problem is solvable: we just haven’t solved it yet. How much IM spam do you get? None, because you only allow communication from people with whom you’ve set up an invitation. We could use whitelists on our email if we had the spine for it, but it’s a pain and doesn’t flow with the ways email is current used.

I predict email will disappear right about the time the book does. 🙂

Of course we’re a business!

July 17, 2006

NGC4Lib has a long thread on whether or not libraries are immune from, or subject to, normal “market” forces.

I have to say, it’s a little depressing that the question is even being asked. We have customers who give us money, and every so often they decide whether or not it’s money well spent. And when it’s not…well, they take their dollars elsewhere.

The catch for libraries (as well as most other not-for-profits) is that the customers (those who give us money) and the patrons (those who take advantage of our goods and services) aren’t the same group, at least not in a 1-1 correspondence. It’s a representational relationship, and one of the challenges of running a library is that the values of the patrons and customers don’t always line up.

But don’t pretend for a moment that just because libraries are often unable/unwilling to vote with our feet that either our patrons or their representatives with the purse strings aren’t willing, even eager, to take the money and put it somewhere else. If you can’t justify your budget and your existence, don’t expect either to last forever.

Getting back in the saddle

July 6, 2006

I’ve let this blog founder…flounder…err…founder, I think. Yeah. Founder.

In any case — I’m gonna start being a little more serious about keeping track of what I’m thinking here, because Lord knows trying to keep it all in my head isn’t working.

The cost of switching

June 21, 2006

In a post titled It’s not that simple over at What I learned today, Nicole Engard takes on the notion that we can "vote with out feet" (or wallets or whatever) when it comes to the OPAC.

Simply put: We can't.

Throwing aside all the contract and interoperability issues she raises, moving all your crap from one system to another is *hard*. Changing your workflow is *hard*. Retraining your users is *super hard*.

I've often commented to people that if all the time and energy that has been put into trying to "put lipsick on a pig" with OPACs had instead been spent creating converters to easily move data between the systems the major players sell, we'd have a hell of a lot more competition and, one can assume, better products.

Is open source the answer? I'm not sure it is. I *am* sure that there's a place in the market for new players, esp. among the smaller libraries who are (a) hungrier, (b) less beaurocracy-encrusted, and (c) more likely to look at hosted solutions. I'm not sure I'm the guy to fill that niche, but boy oh boy do I hope some folks start to step up.

Welcome to OPAChyderm

April 20, 2006

I’d like to welcome you to OPAChyderm.

Of course, there’s none of “you” out there at this point, but why quibble with who’s imaginary and who has delusions of grandeur? This whole blog, really, exists mostly because I thought the name was extremely clever, in a high-school boy sort of “my knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons and Monty Python is more extensive than yours” sort of cleverness. The kind that, at best, will only impress other 15 year old boys.

The idea is to talk about technology in libraries. Not only how much it usually sucks, but what we can do about it. Why it’s like that. What the bottlenecks are. I’m new to the world of libraries, and the relationship between libraries, the internet as an information repository, ubiquitous technology, and the existing culture of librarianship is freakin’ fascinating. So we’ll cover some of that stuff here.

Plus, my wife is pregnant, so I imagine she’ll come up every now and then, too 🙂

A Pachyderm is something that, to put it gently, is fat and thick-skinned. An elephant, for a majestic example. A hippo, for a less-majestic example. I chose the name, like I said, beacuse I thought it was clever, but also because I’m finding that a lot of librarians right now are pretty thin-skinned. They don’t want to hear about how great Google is (I’m looking at you, President Gorman). They don’t want to hear about how successful the Amazon API is. The times are a-changing, as Dylan and the WanderingEyre both know.

This is my first anonymous blog. Why be anonymous? Not because I’m planning on saying anything awful about the library where I work or the people I work with. Things are, for the most part, peachy.

But I do occasionally want to rant a bit. Not about things in particular, but about things in general. And I’ve found that I censor myself when I probably need not.

I don’t take this as an opportunity to reject any responsibility, but rather to experiment a bit more with my thinking.

So, anyway, welcome.