town meeting day

breakfast on a sunny day

Sort of dumbly excited about Town Meeting day. I spaced the date last year and had work plans by the time I remembered what the date was. For someone of my political bent, the only sort of democracy I really like is direct democracy and town meeting is IT. This year has been lively in town. The town manager was removed from his position amidst a lot of rumors that can’t be confirmed or denied because everyone can’t legally disclose what happened. That same town manager (who maybe is an okay person but I didn’t like him much as a town manager) is running for selectboard which is sort of crazy. There’s a schism in town between the no-new-or-higher-taxes crowd who I consider more conservative and the “Our town is awesome let’s keep it that way” crowd which I’m more aligned with. I even became the “social media manager” of the Randolph We Love page on facebook which is about as far as I go in getting politically involved outside of my library activism. As a renter I don’t even pay taxes in this town directly, but I’d be happy to chip in a bit more to keep the library functioning as well as it does and keep the opera house open. This is a great little town.

So I’m at home the night before the meeting making cookies for the “meet the town” social hour before the meeting begins at 10 am. There are a few places online to follow the statewide happenings including VPRs page of updates and a site they link to TMDVT which is a simple tagged content aggregator. I have the day off of work and a hot dog party to go to in the evening so tomorrow will be a big day which I’m sure will be in interestingly marked contrast to SXSW which is coming up at the end of the week in Austin Texas.

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.

time has come today

I consider it a good trip if I can come home without being sick and thinking “I made some good decisions.”

I am home from SXSW which was more fun than I was expecting. Staying with friends instead of solo meant that I was more social and did more stuff than I might have if I had been left to my own devices [which, if history is any indicator, means that I walk around looking at things alone all day, nothing wrong with that but it’s good to change it up a little]. I also got less sleep and did a lot less narrating and more doing. A short list before I go back to the daybed and soak up the remaining sunlight hours.

  • I went to Austin and stayed with the Guys of MetaFilter in a nice house north of town. Here are my photos.
  • I was interviewed with Team MeFi for community radio. MC Frontalot was also there. Not sure where the audio wound up.
  • I was interviewed by Latoya Peterson from Racialicious about the digital divide. Not sure where the video wound up.
  • I went with librarians, MetaFilter people, old skool bloggers and others to see MC Frontalot perform with other nerdcore rappers. Here is his website. I stayed out late, really late, eating pancakes the night before my panel.
  • I presented a panel with NYPL libraran Jenny Engstrom which was, by all accounts, a smashing success. Here are my slides.
  • I went to dinner with 50 someodd people and was amazed at the confluence of old and new friends.
  • I got held up by technical plane problems at the airport and wound up flying into Boston instead of Burlington which meant a side trip to Denver and some special surprise time with Jim.
  • I ate an awful lot of tacos.

I got home three minutes before the post office closed [thanks Forrest!], which is auspicious. I still need to get the ASKMEMobile out of the Burlington airport parking lot, but I have a plan. Between the detour into Mountain Time and the time change and the 28 hour trip home [with some snoozing in-between] and my general bleariness, I’m not sure I’ve ever been more happy to come back to my little treehouse where time seems to mostly stand still. More reports as events warrant.

three fifths done

the view from the library

Bla bla bla the journey really is the destination. This was a photo I took at the Loussac Library in Anchorage Alaska. Often when I go places, I’m fidgety and sort of keeping an eye on the clock and my agenda and where else I have to be when. I’m good at getting places when I need to be, but sometimes less good at the Be Here Now aspect of the whole thing.

I finished up my Alaska trip and checked out of the hotel I was staying at around 1 pm and then had almost twelve hours to kill before my red-eye flight. I was pleasantly surprised that the library was open on a Sunday and got a ride over there and just hung out before taking the bus back to the hotel to use the free wifi for a few hours before eating and going to the airport for the long bumbada bumbada trip home. The library wasn’t too full, the heaters made a pleasant sound, the view was amazing, the wifi worked. It was one of the most peaceful parts of a long and interesting but rarely restful set of weeks.

I head to SXSW tomorrow. If you see me, please say hello.

someone’s fancy

I’m not so great at bragging and I always think that saying what I’m up to sounds like bragging so I’ll say this quick and be done with it. There is some good news.

    My panel was accepted to be at SXSW. I’m in good company. Thanks to anyone and everyone who voted. Now I just have to do the thing. Exciting. I admit there’s a subculture tourism aspect to it that I’m not totally pleased with. After hearing everyone talk about how we live in the FUTURE where everything is at everyone’s fingertips, always, I figured I should do something with all the steam coming out of my ears. This is that thing. If I have my way — there are still a lot of steps before the panel is staffed, slotted and scheduled — I’ll have another librarian talking about the urban digital divide that she sees and I’ll contrast my rural perspective. Woo!
  • And, I don’t know how to really say this, but I am judging a New Yorker’s photography contest. I KNOW RIGHT? Here is where you can see my name on the blog announcing it (a great blog, btw). You have five days to upload a photo of your pet to The New Yorker dressed as your favorite literary figure.

What more joy could this week bring? Tomorrow I go to Iowa.

consistency of memory

sunset seashell

A decade of having a little bloggy notepad of what I’ve been up to means that sometimes my memory doesn’t work totally right. It’s like when you remember things that happened in your childhood that you have pictures of, but not the other stuff. I make an effort, but at this point working on memory tricks seems to be more work than just writing more stuff down.

I got home from eleven days away last night. The memory thing is that somewhere en route from (my amazing friend) Michael’s house in Texas to Logan airport, I lost my Mac’s power cord. I’m pretty smiling-buddha about most of my posessions. I do my best to take care of them but I try to maintain equanimity when something goes wrong. In this case I was sleepy and sort of buzzed-out from a really good time at the SXSW conference and I have no idea where my power cord got to. I called all the lost & founds — after a week of talking about usability, finding out that I could only figure out if someone found my power cord tomorrow was astonishing to me “but I’m in the airport where I lost it NOW…” — but no one saw it. And, to be fair, if I had a job in the airport lost and found and someone brought in one of these Mac power cords that retails for $75, you can bet I wouldn’t be giving it back either. At any rate. I got myself a new one in Massachusetts and promptly forgot that I even lost it. I also lost my long maroon scarf (how can you lose a ten foot scarf?) and that’s bugging me a little more, actually.

My trip was great and included a panel discussion in front of a room of ~800 people, my telling an old bad drug story (never before linked!) at the Fray Cafe, some quality power-eating with good friends who I don’t see often enough, and then a trip back through MA where I saw my Dad and helped a friend move and did a little of the Jessamyn-magic on Jim’s full-o-stuff bedroom. The long quiet bus ride and drive back from the bus station is like a three hour airlock between people-time and quiet-and-cold-Vermont-time. I’ll be turning around in a week and heading down to DC — actually Crystal City Virginia which is a terrible name for a not very interesting place — and in the meantime it’s back to classes, swimming, bird feeding and getting some of my brain back. Here are some photos of where I’ve been: Westport, Austin. They help me remember.