misinformation quotation

I wish I had a source for this quotation, but I assume it comes from something I was reading in 2001, when I was teaching at the University of Iowa. I taught this nutty class called the Rhetoric of Drugs, and I was also reading a great deal about the civil rights movement and its aftermath at the time.

I’m spending the day packing for my upcoming move to a house in town (no more frozen pipes–hurrah!). I ran across this scrap of paper, which contains some notes on student speeches, a rough outline of what we were going to read and discuss in March, and the following:

Information is the raw material for new ideas; if you get misinformation, you get some pretty fucked up ideas.

–Eldridge Cleaver, former Minister of Information for the Black Panther Party

It seemed relevant to, well, I could make a list. I’m sure you could make your own.

google, the new yorker, and the economics of access

This will undoubtedly be making the rounds, if it hasn’t already, but The New Yorker has an article on Google Book Search that’s currently available online.

(The New Yorker, it is worth noting, is not committed to making its information universally accessible and useful, at least not unless you buy the Complete New Yorker DVDs. The magazine does not maintain an index of its articles on its website, and its indexing elsewhere has historically been somewhat sporadic. You can read more on the magazine’s indexing, or lack thereof, in the latest Ask the Librarians column at Emdashes, which is, to the best of my knowledge, a labor of love by a writer and New Yorker fan. I should note that, despite my snarky tone, I also am a fan of the magazine–I just wish they’d publish their past tables of contents online so I could remember what the hell issue I read, say, Calvin Trillin’s recently turned into a book piece about Alice. But of course then I’d have less reason to purchase the DVDs.)

planes, trains, and automobiles

I live a long way from just about everywhere.  (When the New York Times claims that they have nationwide home delivery, what they really mean is “nationwide home delivery if you live in a relatively populated place near a coast or major urban area.  They do not mean Meeteetse, WY, or even Cody, or, for that matter, most of the state of Iowa.  The Cody library usually has the Times about 3-4 days after it comes out, because someone who lives in Cody and gets it by mail, 2 days late, brings it over when he’s finished.  I know, I know, you can get it online.  And I do.  But I still find their advertising offensive.)

But never is it clearer just how far away I am than when I decide to go someplace else, as I did over the holidays.  By some string of miracles, I avoided all the bad weather on my drive to Denver, flight to Chicago, drive to Iowa City, train back to Chicago (detouring to Morning Sun, IA to meet up with my friend Sara and her mom and stepdad and then proceding to Burlington, IA to catch the train), flight back to Denver by way of St. Louis, and drive back to Meeteetse.  I even made a little map on Google, though it’s somewhat deceptive, since some distances were as the crow flies rather than as the car creeps. 

Anyway, I mention all of this mostly by way of saying how thankful I am to have had such an easy (if long) trip, and how sorry I am for all the folks who got stuck at Denver International Airport.  I hope you are all home and sleeping on comfortable beds by now, and that the holidays are starting to be a good story and ceasing to be such a vividly miserable experience.  I mention it also, though, because I think it’s worth remembering, from time to time, that, as I’ve noted before, the world is not flat.  We don’t all travel at broadband speeds, and things like the weather often have a greater impact than we imagine.  I find that strangely comforting.

I hope that all of you who travelled over the holidays did so safely, and that the days were merry and bright, even if the nights were long.  Happy New Year!

november round-up

November was a busy month, both for me and for the library. Here are a few highlights:

  • Many good things happened on Election Day this year, but for me the best one of all was that the cap tax passed. That means that Cody (our main branch) will get a much-needed new library, Powell (where another branch is located) will get a new pool, and Meeteetse will get a newly refurbished pool. As a librarian, a library patron, and a swimmer, I am thrilled about all of the above.
  • I put together a little website for the cap tax back in August, and it went live sometime in September. Because a) I like to do things cheaply and b) the cap tax committee was initially interested in having a blog (though that ended up not happening), I set up the site using WordPress.com. A look at the statistics for the site (the address of which was run regularly in the Cody Enterprise and was on all the propaganda publicity for the campaign) is a good way of getting a sense of what it’s like to live in a culture that is not as saturated by the internet as many places. The site had 2588 total views, with 234 views on its best day ever, and it had one incoming link. Park County has a total population of 26,664. I know that in many places, it’s crucial to do outreach on the internet and to find library users, or potential users, where they are. I’m glad we put the site up, but there was far more discussion of the cap tax on the op-ed pages of our local newspapers than there was online.
    Right after Election Day, I went on a short vacation to Moab, Utah and environs. There are pictures on Flickr, which I may someday arrange into a set, but don’t hold your breath.
  • Meeteetse’s six-man football team made it to the playoffs, although sadly not farther. Everyone in town had signs up wishing them good luck, including the library.
  • My friend Mitchell pointed out this intriguing reference-like service.

blasts from the pasts and looks towards the future

In the course of working on a web page for my summer class, I was reminiscing about some of the very first web sites I remember seeing.  Many have gone the way of the dinosaur (the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids ICON, an alternative weekly that I read online in college and wrote for after I graduated, but a few are still around (I’m so happy to see that Fireland is still alive, even if it is described as rickety). 

Also still around, and now a blog as well as a repository of wonderful things, is Literary Kicks, which points to the coolest use of Google Maps I’ve seen so far: a map of Sal Paradise’s journey in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

The web site I look at most often these days is the fairly new InciWeb, which tracks forest fires around the country (and gives updates on them via RSS!).  The about page notes that InciWeb is currently being tested and will be “used nationally in the 2007 Fire Season.”  Thanks to an IM conversation today with Steve Lawson, it occurred to me that perhaps a few others out there in western states might want to tuck it away for future reference. 

Our fire is still burning, although many of the 332 Forest Service personnel who were here to fight it have now left.  A hundred or so of them were camped up by the school (and thus also by the library) last week.  People frequently came into the library to hang out or check e-mail or look through the books in our booksale or browse our magazines.  I can’t tell you how many of them were amazed that we had internet access.  “Actually,” I said, becoming a walking talking ALA quotable fact sheet, “98% of public libraries in the US offer internet access to the public!  And have I told you about our databases?  And you can download your digital photos using our handy memory card reader on this computer where I’ve got Picasa installed!”  Some days I frighten even myself–but I hope they left with a few more ideas about public libraries than they had when they came in.

nifty stuff found while in the Denver airport

I’m en route to ALA and catching up with my feeds.  Sometimes I think I don’t do nearly enough spreading of link love, so here’s a little catch up.

Ack!  Plane about to board!  Must go!  See you in the Big Easy, or online.

love and blogging: a quotation without much comment

These days, I read The New Yorker two or three or four weeks after it comes out, because I get it second hand from my friend Jim.  Sometimes I wonder if that’s why I’ve felt so behind on everything lately, but most days I expect that it’s just a combination of laziness and of enjoying not being totally in the loop. 

Anyway, the Talk of the Town for June 5 contained a little squib about Jason Kottke and Meg Hourihan, who were profiled in the magazine in a November 2000 article (which I have not read) called “You’ve Got Blog.”  The original article detailed their meeting, online and then in person, and budding romance.  The new piece recaps that and ends with their wedding (“Most Flickr’d Ceremony Ever”), and the last line of the piece seemed worth sharing:

Jason and Meg agreed that living at least some of their lives online had been a positive experience, even though there were times when it was uncomfortable.  “If you are looking to make friends and have experiences, you have to be open,” Jason said, an observation that may apply as much to love as it does to blogging.