On the occasion of the anniversary of the death of Ada Lovelace

Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.
Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer.

Dear Internet,
Would you not agree it is bizarre that the day I make a donation to the Ada Initiative, is anniversary of the death of its namesake, Ada Lovelace? (Not to be confused with Linda Lovelace, who interestingly when she quit porn went on to attempt to get a CIS degree. HRM.)
Also! Two posts in one day! How can anyone live at that speed??
I want to clear up a few things that have been swirling around and present a few other things that have come up within the last 24 hours.

  • I had one person mention to this week they are receiving “complaints” that when I present myself professionally whether at conferences or writing about the gender tech issues, it is apparently under the guise as LibTechWomen and not as myself. While it is unfortunate that people think this, my presence at such events or my writing has never directly or indirectly implied I’m acting on behalf of the LibTechWomen group. I feel I’ve made this pretty clear, but whomever is speaking to this one person apparently does not think so. I actually address the very personal level of my involvement in a previous blog post how this passion of mine has become my mantle:

    Now that the conference is over, I am home and I have had a few days to simmer on the events of the week, I’ve decided to take up the mantel permanently on the topic. My reasoning for this is layered, but primary cause is I don’t think we’re doing enough in the profession to bring this to the forefront of our mind. I only tend to write about it when something has happened either to me or I’ve become impassioned for another and my opinion must be heard! I’ve noticed that others seem to act the same way, thus the discussion tends to dip and rise depending on what is getting peoples ganders up at the moment.

    While I’m sorry people feel I’m hogging the spotlight, I cannot be held responsible for what others think or do if my actions have been upfront, neutral, and honorable. I will, however, endeavour to continue to use neutral language and to make it clear I’m acting out of my own interests unless otherwise implicitly stated. I would suggest if you have any problems with ME you address them with me rather than going about by telling it to someone else as by now I’m getting it third or fourth hand. Be an adult. This is not high school.

  • Another concern brought up by the same person, was that I am not allowing other people “to shine” on this topic. I’ve never, ever proclaimed to be the expert on this topic, I just happen to be prolific and I’ve also had a decade of experience outside of the library industry in the tech fields. I’ve also said, directly and indirectly, my voice and view are not the only voice and view out there; I’m but one piece of the puzzle. Secondly, whenever I have gone forth and solicited for help or made suggestions, I have always added the caveat of suggestions to people to do this on their own individually or in the support of others. I am but one person. I am mindful this is not about me but about the larger issue at hand, but shit doesn’t get changed unless people put forth the effort and get the word out. Which means to me constantly talking, writing, and presenting on it. I’m thrilled that others are doing work to make changes, but I cannot be held to blame if they are not getting recognized in the same manner I am.
  • My professional site was originally designed to meet the requirements as a faculty member at MPOW, which includes documenting to the ninth degree every single thing I do professionally or related to my professional interests. Thus LibTechWomen/LibTechGender was set up as a descriptor and a catch-all of not only documenting what I’m doing, but to also act as a start page for me to point to for people interested in the topic. You can see that I include not only my own work the work of many other voices in the mix. This was wholly intentional. Apparently, again, some have felt I was masquerading this page as the “official” LibTechWomen group landing page, which has not only not been my intent or something I’ve actively promoted as such. The LibTechWomen group is in the process of putting together a professional face sometime in the near future, which should alleviate any future concerns.

Now that all out in the open and addressed, let us move on to some good news:

  • I was approached a few weeks ago by American Libraries Magazine to do an editorial  for an upcoming issue (which will be published sometime in mid-Spring) on the strength of my existing work on the topic of gender and technology.
  • I’ve been asked to be a panelist for an upcoming conference in January on the topic of women, technology, and gender issues. I’ve requested if the panel needs to be cut due to overwhelming response of panelists, I’d be happy to step aside and work from behind the scenes, but either way once that becomes solidified I’ll have more info on it.
  • My pre-conference proposal for Code4Lib looks like it might be a winner, so huzzah for that.
  • In addition to donating to Ada Initiative today, I also approached them on volunteering my time/energy/talents at larger level. Additionally, their founder is one of the keynotes for Code4Lib, which allowed me to feel comfortable asking for help for the pre-conference! Another huzzah for that!
  • Lastly, I’ve completely updated and revamped my LibTechWomen/LibTechGender page. Remember you can subscribing to the page’s RSS feed to get updates when the page itself is updated.

Phew! That was a lot. Now I go forth and start prepping for tomorrow’s dinner!

This day in Lisa-Universe:

Decompressing Tech unConference: May 15, 2009 #techuncamp

The other morning while getting ready for work, I was thinking about the beginnings of this entry which originally started out with, “Recently, I went to my first conference…” which was not necessarily correct as I went to a student journalism conference back in the mid-’90s in D.C. and did the LinuxCon circuit across the US (San Jose -> Atlanta -> New York) in the late ’90s and early ’00s. So no, this was not my first conference. But it IS my first conference as a librarian, so we’ll begin with that.
On May 15th, Heidi1 and I went to Tech Camp unConference at Michigan State as it was local-ish, free, and the content was right up my alley. After dithering about what to bring with me and getting that all sorted, Heidi and I piled into my car and drove the 1.25 hours to E. Lansing.
Why this conference rocked:

  • The Tech unCamp was a wonderful mixture of students, new grads and established librarians who had at least one thing in common: They were all passionate about technologies and or bringing emerging and new technologies to their library. With the experience level running from neophyte to supreme geek being, the range of experience was wide open and I learned a lot.
  • Libraries should look to Ann Arbor District2 (also shout outs to Grand Rapids Public 3) on how public libraries are using existing and emerging technologies in order to do outreach and further along interaction with patrons and staff. Peeps should also look to Lawrence Tech in the academic vein about how academic libraries are using social networking and web 2.0 to the benefit of students, patrons and staff.
  • Drupal v. Joomla v. WordPress as CMS: Drupal for large enterprise sites with Joomla as it’s redheaded stepchild brother and WP coming up fast and furious on the backend as the Open Source CMS. I participated heavily in this discussion, discussing my work with Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History Archives where I helped launch their WP site and how they used it. This discussion also really helped clarify why libraries are using certain technologies over others, especially why the big push towards Drupal.
  • Web 2.0: Natalie Zebula, the tech librarian at LTU, led the discussion on using Web2.0 in libraries (I was the mad secretary, partially fueled by large amounts of caffeine) where in this discussion group we talked about all things web and tech related from dragging staff and patrons into the 21st century by introducing new teaching methodologies and services to how to do outreach in the 21st century world.
  • Talks on using social web, information architecture and how to do social outreach: the final event of the day was the panel hosted by peeps in variety of capacities from social network and research to IA to using social networks in the real world. The IA stuff was huge draw for me because I started taking an IA class this summer, Heidi is also into IA (and she’s been a great resource in filling in things I’m missing tech wise) and it seems to also offer up a lot of stuff I’m heavily interested in — stuff that I did not know even had a name and now I know it does, which just proves I’m not even remotely insane! Heidi and I talked to Dan, the IA dude, after the camp for a bit in the parking lot and discovered that Dan and I moved in similar circles socially back in G-Rap in our younger years (and that he’s also nine days older than me). The world IS incredibly small.

Overall, this was a great introduction to conferencing for the newly inclined (such as myself) and was also highly informative. Not only were the discussions about the use of real world technologies in the library setting but also in other professional and personal settings. Personal experiences with social networking and web 2.0isms carried over in a lot of the talk that was going on, which isn’t surprising when you think about it. Much of what drives a lot of these technologies IS people’s curiosity and whether or not they work for them.
This explains, I think, how technology evangelism begins: All it takes is at least one person who is passionate about X, whatever X may be before it starts spreading to their circles (and so forth and so on). ExFiance #2 and I got on the TiVo bandwagon back in 2000 when his aunt and uncle had one of the first beta TiVos. The ability to PAUSE LIVE TV and the ability to record and hold hours and hours of shows for long periods of time sold us on this new fangled gadget. We were busy “young professionals” and missed a lot of what was on because we were out being busy! With TiVo, that changed the way we saw and viewed television.
Within a year, most of our local social network owned a TiVo once they saw not only how useful but also how incredibly geeky it was. Why plan your lives around a television show, TiVo tells us, when you can plan your shows around your lives. Now a decade later with knock-offs offered by cable/satellite companies, it’s almost hard to imagine a household without a DVR in some form or another. But stance on the technology revolution is for another day.

1.We met on Twitter, realized we had many of the same interests as well as we both attend Wayne State for lib school AND we both worked on campus. Tis a small world, indeed! Also, Heidi graduated from the program! Woot!
2. Eli provided his slides from the conference but part of what makes it interesting is also his speech!
3. I did various interviews months ago with peeps at GRPL and I knew that they were getting on or were driving the bandwagon with emerging tech THEN as they were one of the first libraries I knew who are active on Twitter. GRPL also blogs, games, and uses emerging tech for outreach to their patrons. Word to my old home library!

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