Re: Simple Minds [Stupid Idea Series]

Gregory Alan Bolcer (
Mon, 21 Jun 1999 08:52:12 -0700

Notes from an anti-luddite...

Dave Long wrote:

> A reference librarian can be a better resource than a search engine, and they
> are much less painful to contact by cell phone.

My only experience is filing my dissertation, she was a major
bureaucratic blocking point. Cell phones suck as a means of
communication. They require both participants to be sufficiently
non-busy at the same time, involve a bunch of pre-communication fluffery,
and calls often go on much longer than one party wants them in order to
discuss other 'important' things as long as 'I have you on the phone'.

> Videotapes in a backpack beat the bandwidth I have on my pitiful landline.
Videotapes are an inefficient mechanism for the similar reasons. Well scripted ones
will have hundreds of hours of preparation put into one hour of video such that
only the important parts are on the tape. Most video taped school lectures
have zero preparation time, or at least the time prepped to do the lecture.
If you are going to carry the tape around in your backpack, might as well get
a digital media that supports random access and (more) instant selection.

> I've come to enjoy the art shows at the library; they rotate much more
> frequently than at the local MoA. It'd be difficult to do them justice with
> current online technology.
With online technology, the number of pieces that you have access to is
sufficiently larger. You can then use it as a discrimination function to
see which ones you would want to go see in person. It saves you hours
of time traipsing down to the cultural & art centers to find something
you didn't like. I can presage the argument that yes you can't tell textures
online as well, etc. but when they hand out flyers or announcements or however
you find out about the showing, they don't usually come in color and if they do,
they don't have textures either.

> And some synergistic observations:
> Many libraries offer their catalog over the net; I remember one that also
> allowed browsing by catalog number, so you could virtually browse a shelf and
> allow serendipity to assist your searches. Given an account, they'd also make
> and deliver copies for you, allowing for full couch potato mode.
I have my own library of current fiction and some non-fiction books on a small bookshelf spread
across my room. I have my own organization such that if I want to refer back to
a particular concept, quote, or storyline, I can easily locate the appropriate book
most of the time. Times that I can't, I can usually poke and prod around until I
find it somewhere in the same area. Online libraries have the ability for end users
to catalog their own personal references in a way that is most understandable to them
rather than trying to force their thinking into a common namespace/catalog. Are these
two namespaces transmutable? Sure, but one is more understandable to the individual.
Kind of like a group of people leaving all their working papers inthe same area when
they break for lunch in a meeting so that they can more easily pick up where they
left off. Show me a libary that allows personal categorization. As for
accounts and delivering copies, burn the paper.

> Adding web browsers to libraries certainly fits in with the ideal (Carnegie's,
> at least, I'm not enough up on library theory to know if there are any
> others), and foot traffic at ours is up quite a bit because of them. I even
> see quite a few books in the hands of people who wait in line for computer
> time (shades of the days of batch!).

Right now I can't get any book I want online. Imagine a library that has 10 copies
of every book ever made online. Imagine rather that having to physically go down there,
you pay a $100 for a yearly online library card that allows you to grab a floating license
to one of these 10 book that times out when the book is due. You can check out as many
books online as the policy dictates. Librarians can easily track your usage, request to revoke
unused books in the face of other requests. Imagine how much easier using a library would be.