You know you’re too busy when . . .

. . . you experience a wave of resentment when a colleague sends you an interesting article. “Why do they have time to read interesting stuff when I don’t?!?!?” (Now this is not the person who seems never do anything BUT read professional literature and fill your inbox with commentary. For some reason we all seem have one of those.) If you’ve had this reaction – and I think most Type A’s (myself included) have at one time or another – it means its time to get out of the gerbil ball and take a step back. There’s a high probability that no one is going to die if you don’t do that thing in the next five minutes (brain surgeons and bomb squad members excepted).

Take 15 minutes to some coffee, take a walk, do a downward facing dog . . . what ever you need to do to regain some perspective. And before you get back into you gerbil ball, take another few minutes to establish priorities – this hour, this day, this week, later. Those four categories can help a lot.

And when you’re building that plan, make sure to include a few minutes a day to read some interesting stuff. I troll the Google News Business, Technology, Health and Science sections for cool ideas – new apps, interesting approaches, surprising developments. It doesn’t have to be anything I’m going to do anything with. It just reminds me that there are creative people in the world and because I recognize that quality it means I have it too. That makes the gerbil ball seem that much brighter.

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. . . And that’s OK

Guilt is a terrible thing. You don’t have to be Catholic to have it in spades. I was raised Lutheran and am currently a “none” and I have it big time. Whether it’s true guilt (“I did a bad thing”) or just generalized insecurity (I’m not doing better/working hard enough/a good enough person”) it can cause you to expend an awful lot of energy worrying when you could be using that energy for good.

I think guilt and the resulting stress is only getting worse in our continuing “do more with less” work environment. I don’t know anyone whose business has enough people to do the work, making everyone fall further behind, feeding that guilt machine.

Well I say enough! This week I realized I wasn’t going to make big deadline. I also realized the deadline was completely artificial. If I met it, a couple of items on the to do list would dovetail nicely. Nice, but not essential. So, in reality, making that deadline was no big deal.

Wow!!! For a few moments I understood what it was like to be stress free, guilt free, and worry free. It was amazing! I could truly experience and enjoy the present moment. It would be so great to have that be my default mental state, rather than the “oh crap, what now!?” feeling I generally experience.

Something I’ve realized – guilt is about the past and worry is about the future. If that is where you spend all your time you are missing out on the present, where the joy is. I choose joy . . . and that’s OK.

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Best trend not mentioned at ALA

I’m back from conference and done with post-conference hibernation.  (As an introvert I can only handle so much in terms of personal contact.  It’s great, and I love you all, it just really wears me out and I need some concentrated alone time to recover.)

During conference I was SO pleased to be part of LITA’s Top Tech Trends panel #ala2013ttt.  The panel turned out to be a great mix of people and issues.  I think we were just starting to get our groove on when the session was over.  However we all got to hear Cory Doctorow speak so I don’t think anyone minded.

After you get done with a session like that you spend your time torturing yourself with all the things you didn’t say or should have introduced.  Saturday’s Library Link of the Day, an article from the New Republic titled “American Youth Read Books in Print (for now)” has brought up another trend I wished I’d talked about:  both/and.

The New Republic Article discussed the recent Pew survey showing that kids these days are not all e – they still read plenty of paper books.  Despite the findings, the author of the article has decided that this is likely due to easy availability and assumes that as ebooks become more ubiquitous that will change.

Sigh.  Our history is full of new technologies emerging and not supplanting old ones.  Yes, the 8-track tape is long gone and good riddance.  However quality technologies that are well adapted to their purpose stand the test of time.    We still listen to the radio in the TV age, still watch TV in the internet age, and are far from achieving the paperless office despite having multiple new ways to communicate and store data.

The fact is the printed book works really really well for long form narrative (both fiction and non) and is an excellent asynchronous user interface.  Anyone who thinks the (printed) book is dead hasn’t been paying attention to history.  Yes usage patterns will change for both print books and long form  narrative, but just like radio, TV and paper, the book isn’t going away.  Anyone who wants to be prepared for the future needs to be able to navigate BOTH printed media AND eMedia if they want to be successful – and that goes for content consumers, content creators, and the librarians whose job it is help both groups connect with each other.  To bring Ranganathan’s 2nd and 3rd laws into the 21st century:

Second Law: Every person his or her (e)book

Third Law: Every (e)book its reader

(italics and (e)s mine)

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A few thoughts on privacy . . .

As a culture we don’t think about privacy enough.  That has all changed in the last with revelations about NSA’s secret spying programs using our phone and internet data.  Libraryland has traditionally held a very conservative view of privacy because of our many battles over intellectual freedom and the tradition of protecting library records from prying eyes.

However in today’s online world people every day are making social and economic decisions about how and when to share their personal data, and what to trade their privacy for.  My view is that a key component of digital literacy is training people to understand that they are in fact using their privacy as a sort of currency when they make decisions to create social media profiles, sign up for grocery store discount cards, or post anything online.  It’s not my place to make those decisions for them, just help them understand the facts and implications that they can make informed decisions.

It seems to me that the larger issues of the day are less about privacy than they are about secrecy.  National polls are showing that people want the government to protect them from threats and many would be willing to endorse the kind of

Secrecy Promotes Tyrannysurveillance tactics that have been recently revealed are happening.  But the fact is that the public has not gotten to make such an endorsement because of the secrecy of the programs.

Is it feasible to have a public, national discussion about these kind of programs?  I’m not sure, but I am happy that Mr. Snowden did what he did – not that I generally advocate for actions that could be judged as treason. But this is the most massive use of what most people consider to be private information by the government in this era of big data, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to engage in a public discussion about where privacy ends and government protection begins.  Our ability to question the actions of our government is one of the rights I value most.


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Hello world!

I set up my WordPress account back in 2008 when I needed to start managing a staff blog at work, but never did anything with it. Well, time to change that. Two months ago I changed jobs after almost 10 years. Last week I started an early morning exercise routine. At the end of the month ill be on the Top Tech Trends panel at ALA. there’s a lot of new stuff happening for me so why not do a little more?


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