Getting back into the groove

It’s hard to get back into the habit of writing whilst adjusting to huge changes.
However, the itch to write has been pestering me lately.

My current position has moved me further away from libraries, per se. In that my focus is upon our ontology (keywords and keyword structure) as well as other writing standards for a large content management system. And yet…I still am a library geek :)

I’ve been catching up on reading library techie blogs and came across Jane’s post about a challenge to Farhenheit 451.

I do wish people would readwhat they protest. I don’t understand people that are so easily offended by literature. A local teen recently wrote a rather brilliant editorial in the local county paper. In it she noted that Shakespearian classics have all of the elements that so many challenge in other books — bad language, violence, corruption and cross dressing! — yet no one seems to challenge those works. It’s too bad The Aegis has all of their content behind a wall. They want $10 a year if you have a print subscription. Fugghedaboudit! Sheesh and I thought some of the major papers are getting lost in the web? At least most print content sites will provide limited access to some articles and free electronic access to print subscribers.
sigh.

Anyway seeing the title brings back vivid memories for me — my high school mime troop did a mime rock opera based upon Fahernheit 451 :)

October 7, 2006 at 9:33 am 3 comments

“Real Life” butts in

A few weeks ago I accepted a new job in Maryland! I cannot say more at this time, as the final check (criminal history) has not been conducted. Since I know I have no such history, I can rest assured that my contract is secure. I am really excited about my new position, as I will be doing pure taxonomy, thesaurus and ontology work. However, it has felt like the proverbial carrot on a string to manage to start work!

Before signing my contract, knowing that one of two jobs was on the horizon, I contacted my landlord. Since we’d been excellent tenants he told me that he would waive the fee (3K!) for breaking the lease if we were out by July 31st. That was just 10 days! For that savings, we jumped into action and packed like maniacs.

The day I signed my contract I had a bizarre accident on the way home. You know the saying “I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck”? Well, I can tell you it doesn’t feel good!
A pickup backed out of his parking space, knocked me down and ran over my foot.
I was very fortunate that he didn’t break any bones, but my foot is badly bruised.

Thank goodness for my partner, who now had to bear most of the burden for packing. I wasn’t able to be much help. We hauled up to Maryland to stay with my folks for a bit while we locate a home.

My new contract is one of those “contingent upon a drug screen and background check”. It still seems strange to me that they offer the job, have me sign a contract and then conduct the background check. Anyway, I had never had a drug screen before. That has contributed to the insanity I now call my life.

I drink a lot of water. Hello, that is healthy! I am on pain medication, so I drink even more water. Well, the first test came out “dilute” and so it was unacceptable. They didn’t like the color of my pee! So, we had to juggle schedules and get me to a drug test place again. My employer has to pay for each of these tests. This time, my pee was dark enough for them, but I tested “hot”. The doctor called me and quite solemnly informed me that they had found xyz pain medication in my sample. I responded, “Well, that would be because I’m on XYZ thanks to a truck rolling over my foot!” So, then I had to prove that I have such a prescription. Thank goodness he accepted a fax of the lable off of my bottle. Initially, he wanted a copy of the Rx from the pharmacy that filled my prescription. My problem was, that pharmacy is now 4 hours away!

All of this is for a desk job, not a job where I can injure myself or others if I was on something. Personally, I think that the policy of my previous employers makes much more sense. If you have an accident on the job, you can expect a test before they will accept any responsibility. If your performance dips and your boss suspects that you are abusing drugs, then you can expect to be tested. The way the pre-employment approach works is to assume you are guilty and waste an enormous amount of money.

August 10, 2006 at 9:07 am Leave a comment

Spam and Akismet

heh, I got my first spammers this week. Is that a wierd benchmark of activity level?

I have to credit Akismet — it only missed one item!

July 19, 2006 at 11:58 am Leave a comment

Top 10 Ways to Motivate Geeks · The Retrospector

I came across a new blog today, courtesy of my Info Week Daily newsletter. The retrospector has a well written post about how to motivate geek employees. One would think that more managers would realize these key points by now.

Top 10 Ways to Motivate Geeks · The Retrospector

A lot of these apply to those of us that are in the “quasi” geek realm — we don’t do a lot of coding but are involved in the structure and internals of internet, intranet, portal sites.
A point I would add is to allow your geek to provide a solution that works! I’m encountering business users (upper management) that insist that they know the solution and that it must be done that way — even if there is another approach. These are people who refuse to discuss or view any ideas, current features, approaches outside of the their prescribed solution.
I completely agree with the point about allowing tools needed. I have encountered this problem in my current organization. Our network is, of neccessity tightly secured.  I fully appreciate the need to test and research new applications to be sure that they will not present virii, malware or other nasties. It is also undestandable that we must run new and updated applications in a test environment prior to deployment. However, the rules can become so binding that common sense is abandoned. I requested a *free* open source application to experiment with putting our taxonomy into XML. This was THREE months ago. They insisted upon runing it in a test environment, even though I would only run the application locally. There is only one place you can download it, you can communicate directly with the programmer and there is no budget issue. I had to fill out a canned form that insisted upon answers that are not applicable because this is a free application. There are, in some organizations, too many templated processes and not enough intelligent interaction.
I also encounter issues in retaining the applications I need. Our organization has a policy of removing users from licenses if they have not used an application for x time. This seems to be related to cost cutting measures more than security. While this makes sense on paper — it doesn’t work for me. I have to be able to open and manipulate any file I recieve for our digital library. Since I may only see 2 of those particular files a year, I inevitably appear on the IT list of “users that do not need x application”.  Thank goodness my administrator is supportive and will argue with IT on my behalf.
However, I disagree with the way the list generalizes what drive geeks. Too many of our own Information Services and Technology Services people have not kept up to date and are unfamiliar with some of the new approaches and technologies. I am including all facets of information services, such as: programmers, developers, network engineers and security engineers. I have not encountered many employees that actively stay aware of developments in related fields. For example, I’ve stayed on top of the development of AJAX — I’m not a programmer, but it will affect my selection decisions in the future. I stay on top of new security issues: I create crawlers and feel I need to understand network security. I am not an expert in any of these things, by any means! But, it does seem that not all geeks are curious. Perhaps not all techies are geeks? Perhaps past experiences with managers that discouraged creativity and experimentation stifled their curiousity?

July 18, 2006 at 10:46 am Leave a comment

KM in change averse organizations

One of my favorite librarian bloggers, Meredith is thinking about KM needs in her organization.

Knowledge management in a growing and change averse organization
Clearly, though, the solution to these problems is not so simple as creating an Intranet or a wiki or whatever. There has to be a real change in culture or people won’t use the tools they are given. That’s really where the managers have to come in. Management style is so crucial to KM. The way you manage people will make them more or less likely to share what they know.

What Meredith is looking for is to simply get all of the information she and the copyright checker need in order to ensure that students have access to materials they need for classes.
Jack has an idea that might be less threatening by requesting the information in a format familiar to the staff and faculty. However, setting any requirement or standard still requires effort and change on their part.

Unfortunately, there are those that simply do not like change of any kind. I used to completely resent these types of people. However, I have come to learn that they can serve as brakes to slow down those of us at the other end of the spectrum. They make me stop and think — what am I trying to accomplish? Is this the only, or even the best approach? What can I keep from what they are used to?

I too have encountered change resistance. I have encountered those who will insist upon doing things in an unbeliably awkward and inefficient manner. In my experience, I have found there is usually a reason (often political, social, psychological or all three).

Meredith also points out that many people view their specialized knowledge as a form of job security. That is an issue that I think trips up every KM and/or collaborative organization and/or learning organization approach. This is a hold over from the 20th century, industrial viewpoints that said that people are cogs and are replacble. Couple this background idea with the request to share information, and you can understand why some people will resist!

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July 7, 2006 at 5:55 am Leave a comment

Bloggers that don’t get it ? YIKES

From Geek News Central:

Geek News Central Revealing Technical News and useful links

Paid Product Evangelist that hide they are getting Paid

I have a friend that is a pretty popular blogger, and I asked him today why he had been talking about a certain product so much. He confided in me that he was being paid to be a product evangelist. When I told him that I had never heard him disclose that he was getting paid to evangelize the product he said that his contract had forbid him from disclosing this.

This is insane, especially considering how bloggers have been working so hard to be given journalistic rights! Ethical journalists are expected to disclose any possible conflicts of interest.

powered by performancing firefox

June 24, 2006 at 8:21 am 1 comment

Two way communication — a company that gets it

Ok, a bit off topic. But, i often think and read about how old media such as newspapers, magazines and marketing are dealing with the 21st century.
It might come from my experiences as a Communications major that focused upon PR. The ideal of PR that I was taught was that you do what is best for the organization's image. Often, that means being honest and upfront. Focus upon solutions not upon excuses. But…how often does (and did) that happen?

However, the new paradigm of the 21st centure is a culture that has stood things on it's head. The web has provided an easy, quick way for people to share information and experiences. How often have we seen executives and politicians swear "I didn't say that"? They are still doing it…and obviously keep forgetting that our tools now allow us to not only store old footage — but to better find and retrieve what we want. I guess I'm not so far off topic — information retrieval is one of my passions after all!

An empowered public has become weary of one way ads that talk at them and increasingly cynical of claims made by those who want money and power. They are tuning out, turned off.

One major marketing co. seems to really get it — and they are helping a their clients along the way. In this particular case, Dunkin Donuts I came across the Hill Holiday blog via Slate's ongoing series of Ad Report Card. Brilliant! They really get it. Here is their blurb about the blog:

Hill | Holliday » Dunkin' Donuts

About the blog

Yep, we've read all the headlines, digested all the stats. The foundations of mid-20th century marketing are eroding all around us.

So what are we going to do about it?

Discuss.

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June 24, 2006 at 8:17 am Leave a comment

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