Monday, December 17, 2007

Here's to the lurkers

I have a lot of appreciation and even respect for lurkers. For the diffident like me, lurking can be a great way to get to know more about folks with whom you have tangential connections or loose affiliations. It can also be a wonderful way to exercise your intellect by reading and thinking about the many very intelligent things that some of those on the intertubes have to offer. In a professional context, lurking often takes me into realms of discourse where I do not have the inclination to participate but which nonetheless enrich my professional life.

As I respect lurkers, I think that I am a respectful and thoughtful lurker. I try to take what is available for me to observe publicly in the terms in which it is given--to interact when I feel I have something of value to offer, to follow only as closely or as far as I am invited to by anothers' words, images or audio. Above all, I hope that I have never put my thoughts or feelings about those I observer into a space that would intrude on them personally (in place of work, with friends and family, or with anyone else who happens to be lurking) without them having an opportunityto know the source of what I might write or say and to communicate directly with me if they choose.

Clearly the nature of the social web tells us all that my particular view and hoped-for practice of lurking is a highly idealized one that we cannot reasonably believe we will encounter when we put our words, images, or audio out in public. Perhaps the best we can do is to value those who are willing to respect what they encounter of us online--as I hope I do.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I am the Annoyed Librarian

What is most ironic is that when everyone finds out that I am the Annoyed Librarian, I doubt they will care. SMKVT who?

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Unconference: Nobody told me I actually was supposed to attend

I'll start by saying that up until a couple of days ago, my only concept of an uncoference was the BIGWIG Social Software Showcase. But when I started to peruse the set of links for the Aug. 23 broadcast of Uncontrolled Vocabulary, which includes (by inference anyway) the ALA Bigwig SSS in the line-up of unconferences, I realized that I had misunderstood the concept of the unconference in a fairly big way. Nonetheless after letting that realization roll around in my head for a while, I have decided I really like my misconstrued version of the unconference.

Here is the story to explain what I am talking about: When I ran across the Bigwig SSS through some wandering on the interwebs, I did get the idea that it was an unconference according to the concept as generally understood. It is an event that attempts to turn some of the elements of a traditional conference on on their heads. I got that about Bigwig SSS--the participants/organizers were using an ALA annual format (the interest group meeting) for a purpose for which it was not really intended--having a "session" that in normal ALA time (think dog years to the nth power) would take at least a year to organize. It was also clear that the participants were the presenters as is inherent in the idea of an unconference. But I don't think that was what pulled me out of my usual diffidence to actually create an account on the Bigwig Wiki; follow Bigwig on Twitter, keep an eye on the Bigwig Meebo room, join the Bigwig SSS group on Facebook, and generally keep up the the presenters as they contributed to the wiki.

All the while I was doing that, I was thinking of Bigwig SSS as an unconference because it was actually something allowed me to participate in ALA annual without having to be there, without having to pay the outrageous amount of money required to be there, without having to finesse some way for MPOW to pay for me to be there, and without trying recover from the funk that large professional gathering inevitably produce in me. (Another form of my diffidence is a phobia of large annual conferences of professional societies--I still have scars from my first profession).
So my "unconference" was watching the various ways in which devlopments in the Bigwig SSS manifest themselves on in the days leading up to the event. I delighted in the way that Karen Schneider's video on LOCKSS and digital preservation got me thinking in interesting ways about something that I normally don't ever think about. I ended up with my own versions of the chicken/egg phenomenon because of Michael Porter's presentation about Facebook--did I revive my ancient and unused Facebook account because I wanted to be in the Bigwig SSS or did I end up in the Bigwig SSS because Michael's presentation inspired me to dust off that old account? More or less the same thing was going on with Iris Jastram's introduction to Meebo rooms.

I did recognize the significance of the actual event where people showed up on Saturday, June 23rd, from 1:30-2:30 in the Renaissance Mayflower Cabinet Room, but my own version of the unconference kept telling me that the event was just as much about those of us out there twittering and meebo-ing our way into the conversation as it was about the participants/presenters who would show up in the physical room in DC. That fell apart for me when that afternoon found me in a long, semi-emergency visit to the vet with one of my cats --the findings in a scheduled exam in the AM grew into a series of tests and the development of a treatment plane, and...(kitty is now fine, or as fine as you can hope geriatric kitties can be). After kitty and I recovered from the vet visit, the actual Bigwig SSS event in DC was long over. Nonetheless, I still thought that I could get my voice into the conversation in whatever archives or transcripts there were.

What I found was that some folks did drop into the Meebo room and there were valiant efforts to convey the conversation taking place in the physical room. I also saw several tweets, but the conversation that I had been expecting just did not seem to materialize, or at least it did not emerge in a place that was apparent to me. In the days following the event, there was the blog post that got away (I even have a draft of a sentence or two) in which I thought I would sort through my disappointment at not being present for the event and speculate on ways that the bits of the event that I experienced were satisfying and why, but that line of thought has remained mostly in my head.

In my following of the collection of links for Uncontrolled Vocabulary, I finally realized that an unconference is still about the event and the people who show up in real time and what I glimpsed in the Bigwig SSS was a lot more than that. I very much appreciate the way that unconference events embrace discovery and I hope I will end up at one of these events some day. I am now drawn back to what the Bibwig folks said about the that the label unconference being simply the closest term than could come up with to describe what they were after. Now I really understand that what I was drawn to in the Bigwig SSS was so much more than an unconference. I wanted the event, but more so I wanted voices coming through as many channels as is possible/practical. I wanted to event to precede and follow the real time interactions. I think I got some of that and I also got an enriched sense of the kind of event I keep looking for, and sometimes finding, out on the interwebs.

Thanks BigWig and Uncontrolled Vocabulary for pushing my mind in this direction.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

How hard can it be to make a friend?

My recent efforts to connect with my niece via Facebook have me reflecting on the relative "friendliness" of various social networks. The story with my niece is that for the purposes of professional networking, she has a facebook account that that someone else set up. Since we share no networks and her access to her profile is quite limited, we have been having a lot of trouble figuring out how to become "friends."

Certainly this difficulty has much to do with our relative inexperience with Facebook and if it bothers me enough we will connect on some other channel and then work our way around to finding each other on Facebook. However, this experience has pulled out of my net wanderings, a recent blog article by danah boyd: Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace.

I many ways the article is way too heady for me as was the context that brought me to it--the brouhaha over the Britannica Blog: Web 2.0 Forum. Nonetheless it does make we wonder how much my online affinities are shaped by the friendliness of the technology (I do give up pretty quickly on social software that makes my head hurt) or the "friendliness" of those I find there. that friendliness is defined for me by some basic things like common courtesy and respect, a healthy sense of humor, and patience with my diffidence. But I have begun to think of the "friendliness" of the technology in slightly different terms, wondering if it is not just a technological phenomenon (ease of use, transparency of tools) but also a social one--social in the sense of mirroring the structures, divisions, social classes, etc. of our society. Do I feel more comfortable on Facebook than in MySpace, because it reinforces my own social image? When libraries use social software to create spaces for their users, do their choices of technology re-enforce the social stratifications that are too often evident among library users themselves and the way that we structure library services?

Much like danah, "I don't know where to go with this," but I think I need to have it lurking at the edges of my social software experience and playing a role in how and where I find "friendliness" in social software spaces.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Diffidence and Lurking

Thanks to Gaping Void for summing up the root of my personal diffidence (at least for today).

I've been doing more lurking today, particularly on Twitter and the Library Society of the World all by way of Meebo.

Much conversation in all places librarian about Michael Gorman's latest (I have joined those who choose not to link). It is not so much that specific content of the conversations that pulls me in to lurk, but that there are intelligent people saying thoughtful things. In listening to them, I allow my own thoughts to stir in ways that I have avoided for many years. Thinking and analyzing the world around me for its own sake--not to perform my job or not carry on the mundane details of my personal life--but to enjoy the exercise of my own intellect in places that thoughtful people find worthy of intelligent conversation. Mind, I do not hold that intelligent conversation cannot be silly or must have about it the air of high seriousness. Most conversations that I find to be intelligent are so, in part, because the parties do not take themselves too seriously.

I guess that all of this is a way to explain my lurking. I don't think that it is voyeurism, or any disdain for participating in the conversations to which I am drawn, or even a great concern that everyone will get to laugh at me when I finally find my own way to jump into the conversation. For now it is just that I feel best adding my voice to the conversation in the slow and halting format of a diffident blogger.

So if you stumble upon SMKVT in your Meebo room or on Twitter I hope you will find your way here to see the few words that I have to offer.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

How diffident can I be....

How diffident can I be if I just put a twitter badge on my blog.

It does make some sense if you consider that I don't tweet frequently, but I do follow any number of "friends" on
I am especially fond of\TwitterLit and the brand new\Twitterprose

With a variety of reasons for keeping what I am doing lately mostly to myself, I nonetheless keep myself connected by following the conversation and updates of others. Many of these are folks who have little idea who I am, just an occasional comment on a blog or a sign on in a meebo room (usually as some form of the name smkvt)with no chat from me.

Maybe this lurking seems a bit creepy or even somewhat sad, but for me, for now, the tweets and the chat are good company when I may not be much good company to myself or others.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Diffident member of the online community

From the online dictionary Wiktionary



  1. Wanting confidence in others; distrustful.
  2. Wanting confidence in one's self; distrustful of one's own powers; not self-reliant; timid; modest; bashful; characterized by modest reserve.
If you see the supreme irony in using Wiktionary to define a diffident blogger, then you get it all.

In the future perhaps I'll be able to illustrate how the dialectic of distrust and timidity drives me to whatever place I may have in the online community.