surprises

I often find myself surprised by life. Earlier this week, I realized I was speaking to a very talented, dry-witted (and therefore a total star in my opinion), and friendly IT professional who didn’t know what a blog was. Wikis, yes. This IT professional was up on all the problems wikis cause anyone concerned with authority, security, and etc., which I thought was an interesting dichotomy.

Once, a friend told me about a speech a physician made at a White Coat ceremony where the physician mentioned that the soon-to-be-white-coated were at their peak idealism now and that said idealism would only diminish as the students went through medical school, because people always disparage that which they didn’t know before. It’s a problem I find myself trapped in all the time–I continually forget that there are still people out there who don’t know what social bookmarking is, who don’t depend on RSS readers to keep their lives in order, and who still don’t know what blogs are. It still catches me by surprise each time I stumble across this.

I write quite a bit about technology in libraries for various publications, and I continually feel like everything is outdated the second I write it, much less by the time it is published. Frankly, it often seems to me like what I am writing is completely pointless since everyone and their mother already knows all about social networking or social bookmarking or Twitter or whatever it is that I am thinking about or writing about at any given time. But, then I have a week like this week where not only did I have the out-of-body-IT-pro-not-knowing-what-a-blog-is experience, but where I was at a meeting where Second Life was brought up as a new and mystifying tool. Apparently, it had been mentioned on MEDLIB-L earlier that week, and the librarians I was meeting with, who had never heard of it before, got intrigued and started testing it out. So, I am occasionally reminded that continuing to write about this stuff might make a difference.

But, even though there is a fairly short turnaround time on some publications, there is a freakishly long turnaround on others. For example, an article I write last March just came out earlier this year. I had written about Writely (doesn’t exist anymore), as well as a bunch of tools like PennTags that though sort of novel back March, sure aren’t now. Another article I wrote last fall (or even maybe last summer) was outdated two days after I submitted it, when I learned that Facebook kicked Brian Mathews off for spamming users. Advocating using his tactics to librarians now seems, well, stupid. But, the article isn’t even due out for months and months. Supposedly, I am writing two books, and I can only imagine the delay there will make them equally out of date.

That drivel was basically a way of getting around to saying that I am starting a blog to get my ideas published faster. And, a bit to show solidarity with my medical library colleagues interested in technology. You all know who you are. Since the Medical Library Association is starting to get interested in social software tools like social networking (due to the incoming MLA president), maybe more of us will start coming out of the woodwork. It would be a great to have medical librarians show their tech-savvy more. I have hopes that MLA 2008 might be a year where the CE offerings include cutting edge technology sessions, but we’ll see, I suppose. Social bookmarking either isn’t on their radar, or maybe a certain proposal was just bad, but RSS apparently is–a good start. And, I know that sections are being queried about what social technologies they are using on the section web sites. The section I am involved with responded to the query by forming a committee to look at these technologies. I know we had tried a wiki before, but it just got spammed–a lot. I have hopes that this new committee and the enthusiasm of the members might push the section to look at a blog, for example, as a means of disseminating information. I know there will be a lot of talented people on the committee, including the previous webmaster, who is awesome, so I am excited to see what will happen.

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3 responses to “surprises

  1. I can’t speak for the CE committee, but I can say that the MLA 2008 annual meeting will have a strong emphasis on putting social networking tools to use in and among medical libraries. 🙂

  2. Good. I will definitely be there, though disappointed about the CE thing. 🙂

  3. Jane–I just realized that you are the program committee chair for MLA 2008. I hear a rumor that there will be a technology panel with a pal or two on it–sounds like it will be a great conference, with or without a social bookmarking CE class. 🙂

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