Jessamyn West

Saw Jessamyn West gave a talk today, Postcards from the Other Edge of the Digital Divide: Technological/Political Choices and the Information Poor. Actually her talk overlapped with half of my DL class, so in the spirit of democracy I let the students vote on it: their regularly scheduled program of me, or Jessamyn. I don’t know if I should be dismayed by the resounding vote in favor of Jessamyn, but I’m not since I wanted to see her talk too. Here are a few things that stick out in my memory, because, typically, I left my notes in the office. This isn’t liveblogging, it’s delayedblogging.

The best phrase of the talk: the “information don’t care” (slide 2).

Slide 3: 2% of VT’s population had never heard of the internet? Another good quote (paraphrased): “I might say something like that if they called during dinner, too.”

Are patrons stupid because they can’t search OPACs effectively & misspell things & get crappy results? Well, Google corrects your spelling, so who’s stupid here?

Why not give library cards to the homeless? Just because they don’t have a fixed address doesn’t mean they won’t return your DVD. Jessamyn saying this of course made me wonder where a homeless person would keep a DVD player… but I shan’t nitpick. There’s always risk when lending out any material of not getting it back.

Jessamyn was turned away from Cornell’s library [correction:] Columbia’s library, where she wanted to get in to see a friend who’s a librarian, because she’s not affiliated with Cornell Columbia. Is this right? Well, it’s not a public library, after all. She was strangely delighted that she could go into UNC’s libraries & use their bathrooms.

Try telling someone who’s just learning to use a computer, some grandmother who wants to learn to use email so she can keep in touch with the kids, that email is a dead tech.

RFID: a vendor-created solution in desperate search of a problem?

Jessamyn has a colleague who knows Dewey out to 3 decimal places, but hates computers with a fiery loathing. What’s he likely to say to grandma when she comes into the library wanting to learn to use email so she can keep in touch with the kids?

Open source library systems are “around the corner.” Boy, I hope she’s right about that.

Filtering apps with unknown blacklists: you are ceding your collection development policies to 3rd-party vendors.

The USA PATRIOT Act: Either John Ashcroft hasn’t come calling in libraries, or no one is admitting it if he has come calling in theirs. She feels slightly let down that she hasn’t been able to be a test case for the ACLU.