Human Operators: A Critical Oral History on Technology in Libraries and Archives
I did six months at a Silicon Alley startup and lost my job in the tech crash of 2000. That was before smart phones and apps, though, so this book about contemporary startup culture was familiar, but not the same as my experience. I was old for startups, even seventeen years ago, and not a founder or marketer, so a lot of the insider stuff about VCs and reporting was outside my realm.
The first time I read an issue of Low Hug, I was relatively new to zines and didn't fully appreciate it. Now that I am old to zines, I have gained the proper appreciation for A.j. Michel and friends' well-written essays on popular culture, alternative music and as A.j. puts it in #9, castoff items or "cultural detritus." These folks are deeply nerdy, in the best possible way, as demonstrated by this statement about moving, also in #9, "This is one of the ultimate signs I'm a lifer when it comes to zines: I'm not worried about employment or having a regular place to stay, but how to get mail."
The author quotes former ALA president Patricia Wilson Berger in her epigraph "Show me a computer expert who gives a damn, and I'll show you a librarian." I wouldn't say all librarians give a damn or that no non-librarian computer geeks don't, but I do think that sentiment is an appropriate way to launch into Johnson's 250 page mash note to librarians. What she likes about us is what I like about us—that we are dedicated to our user population and to our professional ethics. That unlike many other experts, our mission involves educating people and providing access to self-education tools without being snotty about it. At least to your face.
As it turns out, although it was the computer expertiness of librarians that made Johnson notice us, many of the librarians and library projects she profiles in this book are stronger in "give a damn."
Before I really get started, I need to contemplate for a moment that Johnson got interested in librarians, because in researching her previous book The Dead Beat: Lost Souls, Lucky Stiff, and the Perverse Pleasures of Obituaries she fell in love with librarians through their obituaries. She is a loving and generous writer, but we have to admit a little quirky, right?
My summary of this not-too- far-in-the-future dystopia in four haiku stanzas:
The Department of
Homeland Security runs
amok post attack.
Hacker teens fight the
power and teach the reader
about crypto tech.
Teen reader primer
on history, politics
and the internet.
Plus boy meets girl.
Parents are dumb then helpful.
Ends with vote or die.
I know it's not the library, but it's the next best thing: Academic Technologies. They're looking to fill two positions, Manager of Student Computing and Associate Director for Educational Technology.
After reading Rochelle's blogpost, Confessions of a Technofaux, I'm somehow caught on the idea of listing how tech-savvy you are not, in contrast to the usual blog fare of tech tips. Here are mine...