Archive for July, 2009
This video is a classic. I just had to share it again. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a treat.
My other half and editor-in-chief pointed out last week whilst reviewing my latest offering that my posts tended to be both a tad negative and overly formal. Upon reflection I think she is right, just don’t tell her.
It is interesting that when writing for different audiences you tend to settle into different voices. And that on collaborative blogs like this the authors tend to take on differing roles. It seems that at the moment my role is to be Eeyore and to post about topics that deal in complaints or on politics. On my other blog I seem to come across as much more friendly.
So this week there shall not be a moan in sight.
Actually this week I was looking at my shelves in the office where the books for cataloguing are placed and I had a pleasant warm fuzzy feeling. About six months ago I had a rather large backlog, and books were spending far too much time on my shelves. They were also spending far too much time on the processing shelves. Now 95% of books spend no more than three days on my shelves, and usually after that no more than seven days on the processing shelves. We have had a real blitz and worked on our processes so now we are pushing through the new books at a great speed.
That is a thing that gives me a great feeling of satisfaction, or in a lame attempt at being not so formal, that’s how we roll! 😆
Some of you may have read the article “Is Google making us stupid?”. In it Nicholas Carr says the the internet is affecting his memory and powers of concentration. Information is quick to find through a few clicks from Google “tripping from link to link to link” so that he gets sidetracked and distracted and his brain can no longer focus. He believes his brain is being remapped so it expects instant gratification without need of contemplation. He cites others who say they can no longer read books or passages of several paragraphs, who claim their way of thinking has changed. Instead they “power browse”. I think it all depends on what information you’re looking for and why. Haven’t people always skimmed over text to get the gist of it? I, for one, haven’t stopped reading books (non-fiction included). I still like to read in-depth, particularly if I’m interested in a subject. How widespread is the surge of short attention spans and is the internet (let alone Google) to blame?
Jamais Cascio on the other hand asks if Google is actually making us smarter in his article “Get Smarter“. He says that that internet is helping with our intelligence, referring to it as our “hive mind”. The internet makes it easy for everyone to create as well as consume material. Cascio argues therefore that there’s just more information out there and can be misinterpreted – “It’s easy to mistake more voices for more noise”. Scientists such as Steven Johnson maintain that increasing complexity and range of media make us smarter. Labelled “fluid intelligence”, it is the ability to get meaning from confusion and solve new problems. Cascio goes on to say that the attention deficit problem currently experienced may be a short-term problem as we come to grips with managing the glut of information, and reminds us that the phrase “information overload” was coined in 1970. “Google isn’t the problem; it’s the beginning of a solution”. The future is upon us.
Certainly I think blaming Google is unfair even if it is used as a term to indicate the way we browse and search for information. I don’t think the glut of information is making us stupid. If anything is, it would be the dumbing down of public TV programmes not the internet. (A documentary is a rarity and intelligent dramas seem to be fewer. Don’t get me started on TV – it stays off most of the time.)
Have your powers of concentration been altered? Have you stopped reading long passages of text? Or do you think you’re getting smarter, as suggested by Jamais Cascio?
A little while ago I went to one of the seminars that the National Library put on detailing the latest developments in bibliographic description Resource Description and Access or RDA. Initially as they discussed the new philosophy Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records (FRBR) I was quite excited.
Essentially FRBR considers that each work has a unique entry point and from that you can then describe that work in its various formats. In many ways this is how I would organize my ultimate OPAC/LMS. My vision of the OPAC is that when a customer types in a search for a particular work, say The Fellowship of The Ring by J. R. R. Tolkein, they would get just one result despite how many variations the library holds. In a simple result display it would show with icons next to the title the various formats audiovisual, different editions, large print etc, and when moving into the fuller display you would have, say tabs with the details of each edition, and all the holdings would display in a single list. This would be much cleaner and simpler, especially when dealing with multiple editions, or even with multiple titles for the same work.
However my excitement was dampened as I realised that those in charge of MARC are unlikely to adopt the necessary changes that would allow that in a MARC record. And as such the LMS vendors are even less likely to alter the systems to enable an OPAC to work in that fashion. In the end I came away thinking that with a little vision, the philosophy proposed could fundamentally make for a better OPAC for our users but that vision is yet to be seen.