the long dark teatime of tech support aka the bbq hangover

So I was gone to Texas for a week. I had a terrific time. My panel went well, my panelists were wonderful. You can read the notes over on The best part of the whole thing, besides being a small part of what The Atlantic called “The Year of the Librarian” at SXSW, was that my panel was over by 6 pm on Friday meaning I had the rest of the conference to just schmooze and hang out. I am not a natural schmoozer (I know people who know me may disagree, but this is all hard work!) but I managed to have a terrific time meeting people, scooting all over the place, eating a lot of BBQ, taking the last bus home, staying at friends’ places and spending a lot of time saying “We should do this more often. And inviting people to Vermont, sincere invitations that will mostly never be taken up on. So some meetups

  • The Old Timers Ball, a place to hang out with people you hung out with at SXSW 2000.
  • The MetaFilter meetup, a well-attended get together of internet people
  • Lunch with a friend of the family I randomly ran into in an elevator
  • Lunch with a good friend from San Francisco who I don’t see nearly enough
  • Dinner with my co-workers from MeFi (and Andy) where we ordered one of everything from the dessert menu (N=6, we’re not that crazy)
  • Dinner with folks I’d never met who are friends from a mailing list
  • A party containing many of the people from the other meetups
  • A old-timers dinner for some of the same people from the first night
  • An open mike night where people told stories.
  • Panels that both my co-workers gave [Josh did Worst Websites Ever and Matt talked about community moderation.]

And I had some other food. And then I came home and everything was broken.

Actually I lucked out with travel as I tend to. So I got home Thursday [after an overnight at Jim’s] and fled Boston in true Evacuation Day spirit the next day. The DSL that was supposed to be installed was not installed (all my internet comes from my tethered iphone this week). The page proofs for my book that were supposed to have fixed the errors in the first proofs were not fixed. My blog was down with mystery failures. I was tired, cranky, full of digesting BBQ, cold. However, I was amped with a week full of nerd hugs and sharp people and their crazy ideas and I dug in to these projects like a marathon runner. Now, by the end of the first full day, things are mostly calm. My edits are back with the publisher. My blog is back up for now. The DSL folks swore on Twitter they’d look into this. And Jim’s on his way up to visit and I have dinner from the culinary arts kids in the fridge waiting to be warmed up when he texts me that he’s hit the Vermont border. It’s melty and muddy here. And I’m taking the weekend off.

bending towards spring


I wrote a post about the Digital Public Library of America over on, you can go read it there. It may not make too much sense if you don’t do some of the linked reading but hopefully you’ll get an idea of what it was about.

This week continues the travel thing, down to Boston for a friend’s 40th birthday party [celebrated by watching movies all day at the microcinema at the Somerville Theater] then back home to teach a class and then back to Boston to fly out to SXSW where I’ll be for a week. Making the choices between checking a bag and mailing some syrup down with me. My SXSW schedule is online and linkable. My talk is Friday at 5 pm. I’m doing a few meetupish things, probably not going to any giant parties. Trying to intersperse eating healthily with eating a lot of BBQ. Looking forward to seeing some friends who I only see this year at this time.

Amusingly then my next trip is back to Austin for TXLA in April. This is one of the best library conferences in the country in my opinion, and I’m excited to be one of the “featured speakers” whatever that means exactly. Other than that I’m not leaving New England for months unless my book gets published on time and I decide to go to ALA in New Orleans.

some library anecdotes


I went down to my dad’s for ten days to look after the place while he went and got some sun in Mexico. It was a pretty good time. Jim came down and we walked on the winter beach. My sister and boyfriend came down and we all had a big dinner with Jim’s son Milo. I got a PS2 and played some video games on my own system for the first time since I had an Atari 2600. I read the page proofs of my book and managed some tech-support-ish issues with the damned thing. If all goes well it will be sent to the printer in the next week or two. I wrote a long article about the process that will be published on Monday. I’ll be sure to toss up a link to it.

I also visited a bunch of libraries including the Westport Public Library and the New Bedford Public Library (a new favorite of mine) but neither of those were what I was going to mention. This week a photo of mine, a picture of the Somesville Library in Maine, got published, in print in AAA’s Northern New England Magazine. Someone had found the photo on Flickr, and dropped me a note offering me some money if I’d let them print it. I said sure. I’m surprised how many people have mentioned to me that they’ve seen it.

The other library is the nascent Digital Public Library of America, a new project from the Berkman Center and some other folks. I was invited to a big all-day meeting yesterday down at Harvard to talk about what this project might look like. It was an impressive group, I met a lot of wonderful people and made a few pitches for people to pay attention to usability and scalability but mostly listened. I talked about the digital divide over mealtimes. David Weinberger was there too and he wrote down some of his thoughts. I’m still a little out of it after nine hours of meetings and three hours of driving and eleven hours of sleeping all on the tail end of a long away-from-home-ness. The meeting took place with Chatham House Rules so that people could speak freely, so I had a hard time figuring out what was okay to say and not say. I took a lot of notes, both written and typed and hope to sum things up here or at in the next few days. It’s a fascinating time to be a librarian.