Archive for May, 2011

Questions Keeping Me Awake

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

I can’t sleep. My mind is racing with questions. Perhaps if I write them down they will leave me alone.

First one. Childhood obesity is a problem right? Have you ever been in a school cafeteria and seen the people who work there? An awful lot of them seem to be over weight and even a lot morbidly obese. And these are the people we trust to help students eat right and keep their weight under control? Does that strike anyone else as disconcerting? Oh and what is the percentage of teachers who are overweight or obese?

Speaking of schools – why is no one talking about parental or student responsibility in the matter of education? Does no one think they have a role?

Legislatures want to pay teachers based on performance right? How about we pay legislatures based on performance? No pay without a balanced budget for example. Or we pay them based on the percentage they vote with the majority. Obviously if they are doing a good job solving problems there will be a lot of bi partisan agreement.

While I’m at it, does is strike anyone else that being an attorney and being a member of a legislature is an inherent conflict of interest and should be banned?

If the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are benefiting from democracy why are US military doing most of the fighting? Shouldn’t the Iraqi and Afghan people doing most of it? If there are not enough Afghans willing to fight and defeat the Taliban why should we be doing it? Let’s let them rebuild the county. It should take them a while before they are done with that enough to bother us again. Likewise let the Iraqi people spend all their energy fighting each other and trying to fix their country? If they want a democracy wonderful! If they want a dictatorship shouldn’t that be their choice? After all we let the Saudis have one. As long as they leave us alone who cares.

Does anyone really believe that either the Israelis or the Palestinians want a peaceful solution? After all this time they should have been able to work one out. But no they each make totally unacceptable demands of the other. I see no sign that they are tired of fighting. Sure some people are but there do not seen to be enough of them to change anything. And why is it the US’s job to bring them together? Do we somehow have more of in interest in Middle East peace than people who actually live there?

Is anyone else starting to think of Walmart as China’s retail outlet in the US? Is this a good thing?

Seth Godin Needs To Visit a Library

Monday, May 16th, 2011

Now I am married to a school librarian so a) I have a bias toward them and b) I have a bit of an idea of how they think and how libraries operate. OK not all libraries or all librarians but at least one really good one. So I had to read this post by Seth Godin (The future of the library)

In that post he describes a future librarian that sounds a lot like my wife and a library that sounds a lot like the library she is always working towards. But what Seth misses is the reason librarians still need to fight for sharing and borrowing on eBook readers. In a word – access.

It’s all nice and fuzzy to say you can get everything you need on the Internet if you have a nice set of Internet connected devices and good access to the Internet everywhere you go. And Seth probably has that. Many of the patrons of most libraries, especially the libraries that serve poor and rural areas do not have those things. For these patrons even inexpensive books are outside their price range and 24/7 Internet access is still the realm of science fiction. For these readers the loan of an eBook reader is a door into future possibilities. If librarians do not fight to get them access to this technology and to the information on them they may never get to see it.

Also librarians have for the most part redefined themselves away from guardians of books to sharers of information. (well the good ones anyway)They have embraced media of all types from eBook readers to videos (online and on hard media), online databases to Internet searches. They are all about helping people find information and entertainment (yes people do read for entertainment). There are lots of computers in most libraries. It’s still hard to take those computers home though and if someone doesn’t have a computer at home (or Internet) than eBook readers are yet one more tool in the librarian’s toolbox.

Seth says:

Librarians that are arguing and lobbying for clever ebook lending solutions are completely missing the point. They are defending library as warehouse as opposed to fighting for the future, which is librarian as producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario.

Librarians are not missing the point. Seth is missing the point. Librarians do see themselves as “producer, concierge, connector, teacher and impresario” and have for years. Seth misses the point that librarians are about access and sharing by almost any means or media possible. They are not defending the library as warehouse but the library as a source for information sharing. And that is something  you would think Seth would be onboard with.