Quick linkfest

Because I have a million relatives still to get presents for, and holiday travel to prepare for as well, have some links:

  • indexed is my new favorite picture-blog. I always knew Venn diagrams were more fun than people gave them credit for.
  • OMG, the Handelmania podcast! I mean, just look at all those amazingly cool operatic offerings. I know what I’m going to be listening to on every leg of my upcoming travels. (It sounds like it’s all about Handel the composer, but it isn’t, though he does come into it; Handelman is the last name of the podcaster. But wow, what a treasure trove.)
  • Speaking of podcasts, have I ever recommended Miette’s Bedtime Story Podcast? A wonderfully eclectic array of short stories read out loud by a reader whose voice I like very much.
  • Research on Place and Space: this is a research area I’ve been poking
    around in, and this bibliography-slash-portal is one of the niftier
    resources I’ve found.
  • The Bush family saga reimagined as a Shakespearean history play at Blogging the Renaissance. Brilliant. (Via scribblingwoman.)
  • Have I linked Wired’s six-word stories before? I don’t think I have. Go, read. (They’re short.)

Geek knitting redux

The winter Knitty is up, and I have
fallen madly in love with this binary code scarf pattern, which I’ve
decided will be one of my next large projects. And yes, I have every
intention of encoding an actual message into the scarf. I found a handy little
Unicode-to-binary tool that can convert a
short message into ones and zeroes; now the only thing to decide is:
What should the scarf say, in roughly 120 characters?

Right now, I’m considering S. R.
Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science, which would officially make
this the geekiest knitting project in the history of the universe. But
I’m also thinking of Latin mottoes, Oscar Wilde aphorisms, memorable
Buffy and Firefly quotes, and first lines of favorite poems. If all
else fails, I could always put "Hello World" on it about 10 times. So: any suggestions?

And also: God bless geeky knitters, every one.

End-of-term status report

Final group project for systems analysis class: Turned in on Monday. (And you know what? I really dig entity relationship diagrams.)

Final exam for systems analysis class: Taken. Whew. A bit tougher than I thought, but not impossibly so.

Final bibliography for information resources and services class: Uploaded to Blackboard today.

My first term of library school: Officially done. Wow, already?

And now my brain needs a rest, or at least a change of pace. I think this winter break will be a good time to read something completely non-academic. Any suggestions? I’ve been meaning to read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, so maybe I’ll start there.

No Wagner for you!

On a handmade sign taped to a washing machine at my laundromat yesterday:


I think whoever it was meant "rinse cycle," but it made me giggle nonetheless. "No Ring des Nibelungen today, the washer’s broken…"

[Update: Someone just surfed over here while Googling for "Wagner’s Rinse Cycle." I might’ve known P. D. Q. Bach would come up with something like that.]

Nine questions about poetry

I stole this from Jane Dark. How could I possibly resist a poetry survey?

1. The first poem I remember reading/hearing/reacting to was…

I don’t remember what poem it was, but I have a vague early memory of trying to rearrange the words in a nursery rhyme, and being perplexed when it didn’t sound as good with the words in a different order. I have much clearer early memories of Eugene Field’s "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," which was in a picture book I had (I can still picture the illustration), and of Lewis Carroll’s "Jabberwocky."

2. I was forced to memorize (name of poem) in school and……..

I didn’t have to memorize any poems in school until the year my mother (then in grad school) was in a semester-abroad program, and we spent half of my third-grade year in Florence. Going to a school where nobody spoke English was in some ways traumatic, but one of the things I liked about it was they had us memorize poems. The one I can still recite is a short poem about snow:

Sai tu cosa sia, bambino,
Quel candido dono che trovi
Sui campi, sui tetti, sui rovi,
Svegliandoti un certo mattino?
Battendo le mani, tu dici,
"Che bella!" (quando in casa c’è il fuoco),
E subito pensi ad un gioco,
Un gioco con tutti gli amici.

[Do you know what it is, child, this white gift you find on the fields, on the roofs, on the brambles, waking you up on a certain morning? Clapping your hands, you say "How beautiful!" (as long as there’s a fire in the fireplace). And immediately you think of a game to play, a game with all of your friends.]

I don’t know who wrote it. I’ve Googled for it many times and never found it.

3. I read/don’t read poetry because….

Because I want to be surprised; because I like the frisson along the spine that poetry seems to produce much more than prose does; because I like having my thought patterns pushed in unexpected directions; because I enjoy both the process of figuring out how a poem works and the not-yet-articulate understanding that sometimes runs far ahead of that process.

4. A poem I’m likely to think about when asked about a favorite poem is …….

I change favorites constantly, but off the top of my head, I’d say John Ashbery’s "Just Walking Around," or Wallace Stevens’ "The Candle a Saint," or any of Andrew Marvell’s Mower poems but especially "The Mower to the Glo-Worms" and "The Mower’s Song." Or Susan Stewart’s "The Forest." Or George Herbert’s "The Flower." Or Elizabeth Bishop’s "Insomnia" or "Sestina." The list could go on indefinitely.

4.5: There are some poets/poems that I don’t like or don’t understand…

Sharon Olds, in general, and poets like her. I’m not really into confessionality. Billy Collins I occasionally like, but more often his poems leave me with no inclination to reread them.

5. I write poetry, but…

I’m slow to write, because I seem to need one good (or at least halfway-decent) line to start with, and that doesn’t always happen. I sometimes have the frustrating experience of a good idea for a poem that never turns into a poem because it won’t precipitate into words.

6. My experience with reading poetry differs from my experience with reading other types of literature…..

Poetry seems a lot closer to music than any other genre. Which is part of why it interests me so much, I suspect.

7. I find poetry…

… indispensable, and everywhere.

8. The last time I heard poetry…

A friend and I were reciting bits of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ "Spring and Fall: To a Young Child" to each other: "Now no matter, child, the name, / Sorrow’s springs are the same; / It is the blight man was born for, / It is Margaret you mourn for."

9. I think poetry is…

… about as close as we can get to reading someone else’s mind short of actual ESP-type ability.

The not-so-lost art of conversation?

Last night and Tuesday night were my last two nights of classes this
term. I’d forgotten the end-of-term feeling: one part nostalgia, one
part "yikes, I’ve still got to take an exam and hand in two final
projects," one part "onward!". On Tuesday night we learned about project
management and systems implementation in my systems analysis class;
last night, in Information Resources and Services, was all about
Library 2.0, which was very exciting.* Our professor pointed us toward Karen
Schneider’s recent Library 2.0 Cookbook presentation, and one phrase jumped
out at me: "information as conversation." Which, in a library context,
means a move away from the notion that the information is a commodity we hand out (here are some books and
articles for you, here’s where to find X, Y, and Z) and towards an
environment where the users of the library are much more involved and participatory. Libraries for the age of mash-ups and social networks and
blogging, among other things.

Then today I was browsing around if:book, the blog of the Institute for the Future of the Book, and read a tantalizing post about "n-dimensional reading and writing spaces": ways to present research so that it can be read in a non-linear way, and so that readers can comment, annotate, and reply. Which seemed very much in line with the information-as-conversation concept. I think it would be completely fascinating if more scholarship went in this direction. (Though, from a preservation standpoint, also a big pain in the butt challenging.)

And I’ve been thinking, in completely other contexts, about whether it’s true that conversation is a lost or disappearing art. I haven’t read Stephen Miller’s book on the subject yet (and I suspect, from the reviews on Amazon, that he and I hold rather different points of view where technology is concerned).** But "information as conversation" seems to fit into a larger preoccupation with how people connect with each other. I wish I knew how to translate that preoccupation into a way to effect some kind of actual change, even at a small scale.

No conclusions, just thoughts. Discuss? Converse?

I’m never more aware of the multiple audiences I’m talking to than when
I’m talking about concepts that have been floating around the library
world for a while but are probably all Greek to the non-librarians
reading this. Speaking of conversation and what’s necessary to sustain it.

** And when I searched for this book on Amazon, the first two hits were How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends and The Pocket Guide to Making Successful Small Talk. So maybe Miller’s right and people really don’t have a clue how to talk to each other.

Fun with search engines

So several weeks ago I mentioned that I was thinking of using Google Co-op’s Custom Search Engine tool to put together a search engine entirely devoted to things operatic. Now I have. So far, it searches Operabase, Operaglass, the Aria Database, Operissimo, the websites of a bunch of major companies, the Lied and Art Song Database, and a few more for good measure. Try it out and see what you think:



Operaphile Search



And if you’d like to contribute to it, send me an e-mail and I’ll add you as a contributor. Or post a comment — that works too.

In which I am a total fangirl

I’m hanging out in Bryn Mawr’s library waiting to see a panel discussion on "New Frontiers in Cartooning and Graphic Novels". On the roster of speakers: Jessica Abel (a fellow U of Chicago alum, though I don’t think we ever met), Gabrielle Bell, Lauren Weinstein, and my favorite cartoonist of all time, Alison Bechdel. I’m so getting her autograph on my copy of Fun Home. Whee!

… And now I should really go find a seat before the room fills up. Update to follow.

[Update: They all rocked. All four read from their current work, and it was really interesting to see how they translated such a visual medium into the "author reading" format: with slides and, in some cases, dialogue and sound effects. Also, the title page of my copy of Fun Home now has not only Alison Bechdel’s autograph, but also a little sketch of Mo saying "Librarians rule." That made my week.]

Memetracking for science!

I’ve wondered before about how one might measure the spread of memes across blogland, and now Scott Eric Kaufman is doing exactly that in preparation for a panel on academic blogging at the MLA. Here’s the post explaining his project in full; here’s the basic explanation:

Most memes, I’d wager, are only superficially organic: beginning
small, they acquire minor prominence among low-traffic blogs before
being picked up by a high-traffic one, from which many more low-traffic
blogs snatch them.  Contra blog-triumphal models of memetic
bootstrapping, I believe most memes are—to borrow a term from Daniel Dennett‘s rebuttal of punctuated equilibrium—"skyhooked" into prominence by high-traffic blogs.

For my talk at the MLA, I’d prefer being able to quantify this triumphalism with hard numbers. … Since I lack foresight, I’m stuck announcing
my intentions and begging participation.

So here’s my own contribution, since I’m always happy to supply a data point or two, and the prospect of the blogger panel at the MLA fills my heart with joy. Please consider doing the same if you’ve got a blog and would like to help with the project.

And speaking of the MLA convention: it’s right here in Philadelphia, which means I don’t have to pay for a hotel room, and there are people I want to reconnect with and panels I actually want to attend (the blogger one for sure, but also a bunch of poetry-related ones). So I’m going. Anyone else out there reading this who’s also planning on being there?

All I want for Christmas

… is one of these reading chairs with built-in bookshelves. (Via Librarian Avengers.)

Just kidding. I don’t actually have space for a big armchair (or even the narrower rocking chair) in my current apartment. A girl can always dream, though, can’t she?