deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Tressie McMillan Cottom isn't a techie; she's an academic specialising in "education, inequality, and organizations". I've been fascinated by her blogging on her research topic: for-profit education. Tressie has worked in both for-profit and non-profit, so she has a bigger grasp of the distinctions than many of us who are advocates for one side or the other.

Anyway, today -- presumably not for Ada Lovelace Day; Tressie's not, as I said, in tech -- she coincidentally posted: "One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Speaking While Black."

On the trip from the ballroom to the lounge I was stopped by three black hotel staff workers. I’m used to this. They are often older, but not always. Either way, they’ve worked in places like the Hilton for many years and they have rarely, if ever, seen someone who looks like me — like them — on the stage. They want me to know they’re proud of me. I’m a good southern girl so I mind my manners and my elders. I say yes ma’am, I’m in school. Yes, sir, my momma sure is proud of me. Thank you for praying for me.

Even my colleagues make a point of telling me that they are proud, of acknowledging my existence. A loquacious, entertaining, generous senior professor from Illinois bee-lined towards me as I found an empty seat. He didn’t even bother with introductions, as family is liable to do. He just started in with, “i sure did like seeing you up there.” I know what he means but he wants me to be clear. He goes on to tell me how long he has come to events like this and how rarely he has seen a brown face at the front of the “big room”

He asked what, by the end of the day, I was asked about half a dozen times: “how did that happen?!”


We're making excellent (if slow) inroads into getting more female representation of speakers at tech conferences. I hope we're ready to make similar inroads with the vast racial disparity (at least at every tech conference I've ever attended, in the US and in Europe).

Tressie's post is illuminating. She's a model for me, even though our fields of interested don't overlap at all.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day, everybody.

And, hey, just to make this an official Ada Lovelace Day post, here's to Kimberly Bryant, founder of the amazing Black Girls Code. I don't know that much about her that I haven't read in press for BGC, but that's impressive enough:

Kimberly’s daughter, who is currently in middle school, has been interested in technology and an avid gamer since the age of 8. Several years ago, after realizing her daughter would frequently get bored with videogames, Kimberly wanted to show her how to make one and enrolled her in a summer game development program at Stanford. “It was a great experience for her,” explains Kimberly. “But there were only about 3 girls out of approximately 25 students and she was the only person of color enrolled.”

As a result of these experiences, Kimberly decided to launch Black Girls CODE, a nonprofit that encourages young minority women to pursue a career in technology by providing them with workshops and after-school programs focused on a wide range of tech-related topics. “Our goal,” Kimberly explains, “is to address the gender and diversity gap in technology and to feed girls into the STEM pipeline as early in their development years as possible.”


--"Kimberly Bryant, Black Girls Code"
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This weekend, I attended Boston's first Accessibility Unconference. I expected to be going only for the networking opportunity, but I found the whole experience fabulous. Certainly there were some frustrations -- the location, for example, could have been more accessible by public transit. But overall, it was a great day.

I spoke about Dreamwidth, not surprisingly. Just as others have talked about the rich developer community that's built when you provide a development environment which is welcoming to women and encouraging to newbies, I talked about the accessibility gains that you get from creating a nurturing environment in your open-source community for people with disabilities. I talked about how being encouraging not just developers with disabilities but also newbies with disabilities made it more likely for your project to have a rich and motivated pool of testers using adaptive technology -- which prompted one participant to say something along the lines of, "you should rent those people out; everybody wants actual disabled testers!"

Other people's talks were also compelling. Jeanette Beal talked about low tech solutions for improving independent living, and gave us all a good reminder that adaptive technology isn't all about Web 2.0. I was sad the session on HTML 5 video was pretty brief, although that was all of our faults, because it shared a session with Flash video and we all asked too many questions of the people discussing Flash.

And the networking was nothing to sneeze at, either. I was thrilled to finally meet the blogger behind Dis/positional. I had long, enlightening talks with Judy Brewer (who was puzzled by my starry eyes) and Mike Gorse ([livejournal.com profile] lightvortex), a developer who works on Gnome accessibility. I learned that Patrick Timony, adaptive technology librarian at the DC public Library, is going to be presenting at SAA, and I promised to send those of my coworkers who will be attending the conference to talk to him. I didn't have enough time to talk to him about his interesting ideas about accessibility and archives, but I made the connection!

Above all, I was overwhelmed with being surrounded by more professionals with disabilities than I had ever in my life met offline. More programmers with disabilities. More female programmers with disabilities. At one point I was hard pressed not to start crying. Dreamwidth has been great for introducing me to other professionals, other techies, other female professionals and female techies disabilities. But I underestimated the emotional impact of being surrounded by that many of us in one room.

(ETA: One glorious moment happened when an attendee of the conference was chatting with me (note that my disability is mostly invisible) and she said "I see a lot of visually impaired people here. Are they here to learn about what kind of adaptive technologies are available?" And I responded, "No, they are mostly programmers and accessibility professionals," and she looked thoroughly taken aback. I think my little heart grew three sizes.)
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(Update: I found the abstracts (PDF). They give a really good overview of the conference.)

I spent the weekend of 4 July (happy birthday, Berthe Erica Crow!) in Bristol, at the fabulous first ever Diana Wynne Jones conference, put together by Charlie Butler ([personal profile] steepholm) and Farah Mendlesohn ([livejournal.com profile] fjm).

I presented my paper, "Disrupted Expectations: Young/Old Protagonist in Diana Wynne Jones Novels," first, so I didn't yet realize how poor the visibility of the room was, and I didn't stand up to give my paper. Based on what I saw in later papers, I realize this was a mistake. Still, it seemed reasonably well received. Hopefully there will be conference proceedings soon, though if not, I will be putting the paper up myself.

I am writing up some of my notes from the papers for my own future reference, although what I really wish were available were the abstracts, which give you a good idea of the richness of ideas which were discussed. My notes here are very very preliminary and aren't representative of anything in particular -- only for which papers I scribbled things in the margins which I can now understand. Descriptions of some papers I'm not writing up )

Tui Head: 'The Girl in Adventure Fiction' )

Ika Willis: 'Mum's a silly fusspot: the queering of family in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Martha Hixon: 'Power Plays: Paradigms of Power in Three Jones Novels' )


Jameela Lares: 'Discovery As Virtuous Action in the Fantasy of Diana Wynne Jones' )

Deborah Gascoyne: 'Why Don't You Be a Tiger? The Performative, Transformative and Creative Power of the Word in the Universes of Diana Wynne Jones' )


Jenny Pausacker: 'The Storyteller: Counsel in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Kyra Jucovy: 'Little Sister Is Watching You: Archer's Goon and 1984' )


Caroline Webb: 'False Pretenses and the Real Show: Identity and Performance in Conrad's Fate' )


David Rudd: 'Building Castles in the Air: (De)construction in Howl's Moving Castle' )

Finally, I can't over emphasize how wonderful the conference was socially and intellectually. The level of the conversation (sitting around talking about books we've all read what other smart people) was fabulous, and meeting people whom I previously only known on the Internet, via the DWJ mailing list, LJ, or both, was just amazing. Not to mention the people I'd never known online before either, who I really did meet for the first time.

I don't want to get into naming names because then I will miss somebody and feel appallingly stupid, but [personal profile] steepholm and [livejournal.com profile] fjm of course, although for neither of them was my first time meeting them, because they have both been previously lovely hosts to the wandering American in Britain at various times. And Hallie and Katta and *brain explodes from effort of not naming everyone awesome that I met*... Also, thanks to Gili, I now have Archer's Goon in Hebrew.

On a separate note, two of my friends -- one of whom, you might have noticed, just ran an amazing conference on Diana Wynne Jones -- won Mythopoeic Awards! Congratulations, Charlie and Kristin!
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I am honored to be a presenter at the forthcoming Diana Wynne Jones Conference, in Bristol this July. (Except now I have to write the paper.)

I am honored to've been asked to teach Fantasy and Science Fiction at the Center for the Study of Children's Literature again this Fall. (Except now I have to prep for the class again.)

If only my time-consuming avocational successes paid well enough to support me, so that making time for them could be easy.
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[Tagged as, among other things, otw, because even though I am dealing with these issues as a professional I think that The Organization for Transformative Works is very well-placed to be one of the few organizations prepared to confront operational preservation from the outset. After all, the OTW has to deal with one even more frightening aspect of operational preservation: it is an entirely volunteer-run organization which promises perpetual preservation. It takes a lot of planning and commitment to be prepared to follow through on a commitment like that. Luckily, the OTW has both.]

Introductory thoughts on Operational Preservation )

I would love to get comments from the community on this, because I truly believe that this could be a very useful model for organizations designing digitization projects. I know I'm going to prompt my institution to follow this matrix for all new digitization efforts.

Problem Statement: When an archivist deposits material in a digital archive, he or she often has assumptions that object is preserved in perpetuity, just as it would be worried a physical object. Depositors of digital material often have the same assumptions, as do institutional administrators. However, the assumptions of the software development and maintenance community do not assume permanence on the same scale in which archivists are accustomed to providing permanence. Moreover, administrators (and archivists) often have unrealistic assumptions about the labor and costs involved in daily operational maintenance to provide digital preservation, which are -- if not higher -- certainly different from the operational maintenance costs for providing physical preservation. Even worse, many digital preservation projects are funded by limited-duration soft money instead of out of an operational budget.

Or, in a nutshell, we need to remember that Digital preservation has an ongoing operational cost which cannot be provided within the archive.

Operational Preservation: To that end, I am proposing this matrix for new preservation and archival projects to see if they have thought of the requirements necessary for permanent preservation.

Anything calling itself a digital preservation project has to be prepared, in perpetuity, to provide all items down the left-hand column for all of the items in the top row. Funding is really a redundant item -- by "Labor", I mean funding for staff to provide all of the work involved, and "Physical facility" is really something which can be provided by funding -- but the fact that digital preservation requires ongoing operational money is too important to ignore. By "Bureaucratic support" I mean policies and procedures in place which support the operational business of preservation at an organizational level.

Operational Preservation Matrix
Labor Physical facility Bureaucratic support Funding
Existence of the datastream
in a file system or database
. . . .
Object access via handle/doi/uri . . . .
Maintenance, repair, and upgrade
of hardware (server, disk, etc.)
. . . .
Maintenance, patching, and upgrade
operating system
. . . .
(The following tasks are not as
essential, but still very important)
. . . .
Rolling forward file formats . . . .
Transferring data to more modern
repository and software tools when appropriate
. . . .
Modernizing user interface as appropriate . . . .


(Of course, traditional preservation of physical objects is also an ongoing operational cost. Physical objects require extensive physical facilities with narrow environmental limitations, they require re-housing and repair, they require maintenance and supervision. But these ongoing operational tasks can be performed by archivists with traditional skills. The technological operational tasks of a digital archive often can't be performed even by technologically-trained archivists, because the institution will have specific requirements about who is able to, say, maintain the network.)
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All these papers will eventually be available in the Open Repositories 2008 conference repository. I'm linking to all of the placeholders; papers should be up soon.

This will be very limited liveblogging, because I'm typing in the conference and dictating betwen sessions, so I can't say much. Hopefully I'll get some good fodder for my upcoming sustainability post.

Keynote:

Repositories for Scientific Data, Peter Murray-Rust )

Session 1 – Web 2.0

Adding Discovery to Scholarly Search: Enhancing Institutional Repositories with OpenID and Connotea, Ian Mulvany, David Kane )

The margins of scholarship: repositories, Web 2.0 and scholarly practice, Richard Davis )

Rich Tags: Cross-Repository Browsing, Daniel Smith, Joe Lambert, mc schraefel )

Ow. I'm not doing this for the next session. I can blog at the breaks.
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I'd really like to say something intelligent about the conversation which started after Media in Transition 5 about acafen and gender, but for two things: First of all, I only attended one panel at the conference, so I'm not sure I can speak informatively about anything other than my greater experiences as a scholar and as an acafan. And secondly, I just took another look at the pile of books I need to review tonight, and that is genuine professional obligations, to which blogging will have to take a backseat. So for now, I am going to link to some of the blogs which are making really fascinating points in this discussion. It's worth reading not only the blog posts but the comment threads, in which people who fundamentally disagree are having really worthwhile conversations with some valuable give and take.

So go take a look at Kristina Busse, especially her MiT5 Review, which has some fascinating discussions in the comment section. Karen Hellekson doesn't delve as much into the issues which concern Kristina, but she gives a good conference report of the panels about which Kristina is concerned with their gender makeup. Louisa Stein, who was unable to attend the conference, speculates that the paper she was intending to present would have spoken to many of these issues.

Also, as I've chosen to keep my professional and scholarly blog identity within livejournal, I should certainly not neglect those others who have done the same thing. [livejournal.com profile] heyiya responded to Kristina with her post Fandom, gender, and knowledge. [livejournal.com profile] robin_anne_reid asks people to discuss their experiences in fan scholarship as pertain to gender, and also links to Ron Robinson's comment in Henry Jenkins' blog about the absence of scholars of color at MiT5.

The only thing I have to add to the conversation that won't take more thought than I have time for right now is that fan scholarship has far and away been the most supportive scholarly community I have ever been a part of. Never before has the editor of a volume spent uncountable hours on long-distance calls with me fine-tuning my contributed paper far beyond the requests and suggestions made by the anonymous peer reviewers. Never before I entered fan scholarship have a number of other scholars called or e-mailed me to say "that point you made last week was excellent; you have to come to this conference and join a panel with me." I don't know if I would call that gendered -- children's literature scholarship is heavily female, and I certainly never felt so encouraged and mentored by that community -- but it is certainly an overwhelmingly positive experience for me.
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Just a quick note: I have a big girly crush on Brewster Kahle, and he's not even here.

Opening Plenary on getting books online )

Interoperability panel )

Jonathan Zittrain on privacy )

Joanne Kaczmarek on the RLG Audit checklist )

This isn't every presentation that I liked, but most of the others I enjoyed were displays of clever software products, hardware display, or metadata tools (though I am fasincated by the project of "Exploring Erotics in Emily Dickinson’s Correspondence with Text Mining and Visual Interfaces") and I'm not sure how much there is to blog on them.

Oh, also, to my fellow presenters. If you are going to do a demo, get some capture software and make a video of yourself doing the demo. You're all either computer or library professionals, and should know better than to trust internet connections, computers, and A/V systems to work on demand. The demos that were pre-recorded went smoothly, and for many of the live demos we lost any real understanding of the software because you gut hung up on the failing demo.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm on the last day of my third conference in three weeks, and tonight I go home and stay home. I'm only here at JCDL for two days -- I'm missing the third day of presentations and all the great looking workshops and tutorials -- but after three consecutive conferences (and two all-day NELINET classes, and an all-day DigiTool training I'm hosting on Friday) , I only have a few brain cells left.

I've already blogged on Console-ing Passions, bu I didn't say anything about ELUNA. Mostly that's because I don't find user group meetings to be all that interesting to the blogging community at large. How much can I say about a vendor's glowing statements about its own product? And I found that my colleagues who were perfectly willing to complain (quietly and polietly; they are librarians, after all) in private wouldn't call Ex Libris on any of the claims they made about their software. Some of what Ex Libris chose to showcase was itself worthy of negative comment; their method for creating and editing METS objects, for example, is a massive kludge.

Coming to JCDL a week after ELUNA is illuminating. They're very different in intent: one is a user group meeting for a product used by acting librarians; the other is a theoretical conference co-sponsored by the ACM and the IEEE, with ASIS&T added on as an afterthought. But it's very noticeable to me that ELUNA was mostly female attendees (though the DigiTool track was about 50% male) listening passively to mostly male presenters, and JCDL is a slight majority of men with attendees actively participating in a way I didn't see at ELUNA, at least in the DigiTool track. That follows naturally from the librarians vs. programmers balance, I suspect. At JCDL, I'm enjoying the balance of theory, science, and practice -- it works for me.

Oh, also met Dorothea, which was great, and ran into Mark Anderson from the University of Iowa again. Everyone's been great; people in this sector are interesting and smart.

I'm going to put the detailed paper commentary in a second post, just to keep this from being overwhelming.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've just come back from a conference, and even though it wasn't a library conference, I think it's interesting to post about here; in fact, there are some issues that arose at the conference which I think are of interest to librarians. Console-ing Passions is a feminist media studies conference. While there is ostensibly a focus on new media, most of the panels I attended had to do with traditional forms of interacting with more traditional media, such as television, news media, and the like. Even many of the panels which focused on the Web treated the more static forms of media still created by an editorial team. Don't get me wrong, many of the panels were extremely good and I enjoyed the conference, but there wasn't a lot of emphasis on social networking. Facebook and Myspace got mentioned in passing several times, but I only went to one panel (decides the two fanfiction panels with which I was involved), which really focused on user-created content. That panel had two papers about message boards and one about identity creation on Friendster.

I think there's a good space open for a crossover conference that covers issues of social networking. From a literary analysis perspective I'm primarily interested in the texts which are the product of social networks; as a librarian I am interested in various forms of communication and information sharing that social networks enable. I assume media scholars would also be interested in social networking but that's not my field of expertise, I'm afraid.

In any case, it was absolutely wonderful to me my fellow panelists in person, when before I only knew them online (and in the case of [livejournal.com profile] kbusse, on the telephone). Everyone had great things to say, and I've great ideas about this paper and more. Now I just need to find an OA humanities journal to submit the paper to. *g*
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I'm finishing up a paper which I will be presenting at Console-ing Passions in a few weeks, and I'm trying to maintain both the longer, reference-full version for later publication as well as the panel version. I feel like I should be putting my scholarship where my mouth is, which means I should be looking for an open access or green journal for publication. But for some rather obvious reasons, there is much more pressure to produce open access year-reviewed journals in the sciences than in the humanities, and the papers I write are such niche publications anyway. I need to find an open access humanities journal which will take a literary criticism article of the type that is usually only interesting to media and culture studies people. This will be an entertaining research project.

On an entirely nonlibrary related note, today is turning out to be an entirely hands-free day for me, mostly because I was an idiot over the weekend. You know, dictation is wonderful, but it really hurts my brain when it's the only way I'm allowed to control a computer. It's not difficult, it's just exhausting. Its neural exercise, and it hurts.
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