Bone Lace

May 2005
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 Sunday, May 08, 2005

Got Game on the Brain.

I’m late to the whole gaming and how it affects libraries thing, but I’m a total convert now and it’s something I’m going to actively track from now on. At first I thought it was just interesting, and while I did like the idea of bringing tweens and teens into the library using gaming as a social carrot, I’m gaining a totally different perspective for the way we can use the characteristics, expectations, and interplay of gaming and gamers in a “tipping point” kind of way.

The latest catalyst for this round of “gaming on my brain” is Moira Gunn’s interview with John Beck for IT Conversations. I’ve listened to the podcast of it twice in the last three days, and a couple of his points really resonate with me. In case you’re not familiar with him, Beck wrote Got Game: How the Gamer Generation Is Reshaping Business Forever, and this podcast is the first chance I’ve really had to hear him talk about all of this since Audible doesn’t carry the audiobook and I’ve never seen Beck speak in person. While listening to it, all I could think of was Brent and how much Beck totally nails him and his friends. I even made Sheree listen to the interview and she agrees with me, although we both disagree with Beck about gender differences because most of the girls we know don’t play video games much at all.

At one point in the interview, Gunn asks Beck how gamers will change the workplace, and Beck provides an example observation that in video games, there are “level bosses” that you have to beat in order to advance further in the game. So one of the things you don’t want to be in real life if you’re a gamer or the supervisor of a gamer is a “boss.” I hadn’t thought about that before, although I always hear Brent talking about bosses in a negative way. In fact, when he started playing video games years ago and he first told me he was having trouble beating the “boss,” I thought that was the name of the character he was fighting. It took me awhile to realize it was his generic term for “the big bad guy at the end of the level.” Then came the realization that it wasn’t just him using the term, it was all of his friends. Imagine his surprise when he first heard me talking about my boss in a positive way!

Beck goes on to say that in the workplace, you don’t want to be a “boss,” but rather a “strategy guide,” because that’s what gamers rely on, especially to beat the boss. And as I was listening to this, it struck me that this is an excellent description of librarians! I’ve always liked that comic drawing of a librarian sitting behind a reference desk with a sign on it that says “search engine,” but now I’ve decided that I’d rather be a “strategy guide” instead. In fact, if I could, I’d change my job title to “strategy guide.” That’s exactly how we need to market ourselves to gamers, boomers, bosses, everyone. The big question, of course, is how to do that and more and more, I think gaming offers clues for how to do that.

If you don’t really understand why this gaming stuff is important, why it will be important in the future (the not-so-distant-future), why it will affect everyone (including you) or why gamers truly are different than you or me, then this interview is a great place to start. I highly recommend you listen to it. And don’t let anybody tell you that these kids aren’t any different than we were at their age, because they’re not like us at all. I was struck by how Beck’s descriptions of gamers mirror so closely the way I talk about NetGens (aka Millennials) in my own presentations. I’m going to have to rework my stuff a bit to highlight the gamer aspect of this generation.

Oh, and if you listen to the Beck interview and get as excited and intrigued about all of this as I did, be sure to register for our upcoming Tech Summit on Gaming @ Your Library! Thanks to our Executive Director, Alice Calabrese, I get to attend the ADL Games, Learning, & Society Conference in June, after which I’m debating trying to put together a day-long symposium/discussion/whatever specifically about gaming and libraries.

[The Shifted Librarian]

8:06:21 AM    

 Wednesday, February 16, 2005

I Corrupted My Grandparents. I have the coolest grandparents in the world. Last time I visited I told them that whenever they read a fortune cookie fortune they need to add "in bed" after the fortune. (Try it - It's Hilarious) Time goes on and I receive this email from my grandmother:

We were sitting at breakfast last Sunday after church with 2 other couples and Pop picked up a 4 page flier, it had horoscopes in it and he started to read them and I hate them and he knows it but is trying to be funny. In the meantime, I tell them about this goofy grandson we have in CA that we took to the Chinese buffet and he made us say -in bed- after reading our fortunes and since then I have been trying to ignore it but they still crop up when I read the fortune.....sooooo Pop decided to say - in bed - after the horoscopes and for that particular paper they were hysterical. Every one read the darn things with the addition and we were in hysterics, had to apologize to the people around us. Told them that we were usually that boisterous...........your fault.

Life is short - I'm lucky to get emails like this from my grandmother and grandfather. Love em both. [What Do YOU Think? Comment on this Post!] [Testify!] [Father Dan]

2:48:22 AM    

 Tuesday, February 08, 2005

I like this lady already...

Is Mary Hodder brilliant or what? She and her friends go for a hike in the Los Altos Hills while TiVO records the SuperBowl. When they return, skip over the football and watch the commercials. Read that twice. [Scripting News]

7:28:50 PM    

Well put, and high time someone figured this out...

Economics of Sharing.

Economics of Sharing: "Economists have not always found it easy to explain why self-interested people would freely share scarce, privately owned resources. Their understanding, though, is much clearer than it was 20 or 30 years ago: co-operation, especially when repeated, can breed reciprocity and trust, to the benefit of all. In the context of open source, much has been written about why people would share technical talent, giving away something that they also sell by holding a job in the information-technology industry. The reason often seems to be that writing open-source software increases the authors' prestige among their peers or gains them experience that might help them in the job market, not to mention that they also find it fun."
Comment: The two biggest complaints directed at the open source movement are 1) it's anti-capitalism 2) it's not democratic. While I can see fanatical implementation of open source as fitting those categories, I think both assertions are generally false. Open source is a manner of openness and sharing. People are generating profits from open source software - the difference is that the value of the product has shifted. It's not about locking it...but positioning it for maximum creativity. Secondly, it terms of democracy, the very notion of open source is that everyone has a say, but, as with Linux, someone still has the final voice. While some may object, I think open source can be defined as a capitalistic, democratic process. Its key definition, however, is that it distributes power to many nodes, rather than limiting it to a central node.


7:26:47 PM    

 Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Open Source is Worldchanging. Jon Lebkowsky: Among Open Source developers and devotees, there's been a growing awareness of its impact as a philosophy and practice that extends beyond the world of... [WorldChanging: Another World Is Here]

6:46:34 PM    

 Saturday, January 22, 2005

Get'em While They're Young. Statutory rape, in the common parlance, refers to adults having sex with minors. I, however, wish to speak of a different kind of statutory rape, one that while superficially different is in fact alarmingly similar. []

5:54:59 PM    

 Thursday, January 20, 2005

How To Get A Callback. From Craigslist: The office manager comes to me with a bill from a phone company that's slammed us. You know, they call, talk to someone, and then pretend that we've green lighted a meaningless charge. Bastards!

So I get the bill. I call the customer service number. The recording says to leave a number; they'll call back in 2 days. Right.

Stupidly though, they left a fax number. It's just like they had dropped their pants and exposed their flaccid genitals for my abuse. Time for a humiliating kick in the corporate crotch.

I prepare a document on my computer. It has my name and phone number in large letters. Beneath that, I insert a large, toner-sucking graphic. I then copy the page and re-insert it into the document. 60 times.

Next I print this my faxmodem. From there, the 60 pages are directed towards their unsuspecting fax machine. I hit the resubmit button 5 or 6 times for good measure, thus queuing about 300 pages. I wait.

About 20 minutes later, an anxious voice on my phone asks for my account number. From his pain reflected in his tone, I know that my well placed kick to their firms groin has met the exposed meat. Pain and embarrassment is being felt and spread around. He quickly tells me that my account has been cleared and canceled, and we don't have to pay the bill. I smirk as I hear him squirm, his humiliation complete.

Fax machines are the testicles of just about any company. If a company gives you grief, attack the fax, and no matter how big they are, they'll drop to the ground, curl up in a fetal position, and beg for mercy.

It always works. [What Do YOU Think? Comment on this Post!] [Testify!] [Father Dan]

7:02:27 PM    

 Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A Nation founded on Christian Ideals?. "The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses." - John Adams

"I have found Christian dogma unintelligible. Early in life I absented myself from Christian assemblies." - Benjamin Franklin

"Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man" - Thomas Jefferson

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less, in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution." - James Madison

"Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and torturous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon that the Word of God. It is a history of wickedness that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and for my own part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel." - Thomas Paine

"We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition ... In this enlightened Age and in this Land of equal liberty it is our boast, that a man's religious tenets will not forfeit the protection of the Laws, nor deprive him of the right of attaining and holding the highest Offices that are known in the United States." - George Washington
[What Do YOU Think? Comment on this Post!] [Testify!] [Father Dan]

5:49:46 PM    

 Sunday, January 02, 2005

Grassroots journalism...a ray of sunshine in an increasingly dark reality.

Dan Gillmor is off into the wild blue yonder of blog-based media, quitting one of the best jobs in journalism to help us all figure out this new world. He does have some high quality wingmen in Pierre Omidyar and Mitch Kapor.

Dan, you are an inspiration. Good luck, we'll be watching your progress.


5:51:06 AM    

 Tuesday, December 21, 2004

How About Not 'Curing' Us, Some Autistics Are Pleading. A new program is rooted in the view of autism as an alternative form of brain wiring, rather than a devastating disorder. By By AMY HARMON. [NYT > Education]

6:07:02 PM    

On Laziness. On Laziness --

"There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is in having lots to do and not doing it."
    -- Mary Wilson Little
[From Quotes of the Day - The Quotations Page.] [Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Blog]

6:06:30 PM    

 Saturday, December 18, 2004

Citizens Journalism Project, the Response. UPDATED I've been inundated with kind words, questions and offers of assistance since the word went out last last week that I'm going to pull together a citizens journalism project. I'm working my way through the e-mail and will try hard to get caught up by tomorrow. Hope to have a few more details by mid-week as well. UPDATE: The folks from Korea's amazing OhmyNews, one of my inspirations in this project (and covered at some length in the book), interviewed me at a conference over the weekend. [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

9:51:34 PM    

An Honor. I just had the honor of introducing some extraordinary people to a Silicon Valley audience. They were Jim Hake, CEO and founder of Spirit of America, which I wrote about last spring. His operation is bringing help from U.S. citizens to people who need it in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it's worth your time to look at it. The stars of the lunch program, however, were Omar and Mohammed Ali, two of three brothers who have been writing the Iraq the Modelblog for over a year. It's an on-the-ground look at conditions they're seeing in a nation that's seen so much horror. They're working on a citizen journalism project for coverage of the upcoming elections. I wish them well on that and hope I can help in some small way. They have a leg up on this project because there's a new Arabic-language blogging tool, funded by Spirit of America, which will host blogs -- free of charge -- for people in the Arabic-speaking Middle East. Nice work by all. [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

9:51:00 PM    

Holiday Advice From My Father. 1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. Like fine single-malt scotch, it's rare. In fact, it's even rarer than single-malt scotch. You can't find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it.

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple. Pumpkin. Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or, if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Reread tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner.

Finally, Remember this motto to live by: "Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!" [What Do YOU Think? Comment on this Post!] [Testify!] [Father Dan]

9:48:20 PM    

 Saturday, December 11, 2004
Rivers and Tides.

Just watched Rivers and Tides, a documentary about the English landscape artist Andy Goldsworthy.

He creates short-lived pieces, and few permanent works, out in the field, using the materials (leaves, driftwood, ice, pigments made from plant and minerals) at hand.

Some observations about why I think he's good at it:

  1. He embraces Wabi Sabi.
  2. He's not afraid of screwups.

    In one scene in the film, he's building an elaborate, chaotic latticework out brambles and thorns. He talks about how he likes to build out to the edge of stability. The structure buckles and he tries to keep it together. It fails. Brambles fall, and he facepalms.

    Earlier, we see him building His leaf pieces delight me. He will sort through fallen leaves on the forest floor, and cover a small puddle with a blanket of leaves in a color gradient, shading from purple, back to yellow.

    In another construction, he organized a line of stones along the bottom of a shallow, fast moving stream. He sought out stones contrasting with the uniform grey and created a subtle line of color running below and perpendicular to the current.

[More Like This WebLog]

5:53:17 PM    

 Saturday, November 27, 2004

A Gift of Reading. Child readingThe day after Thanksgiving is the semi-official kickoff of the holiday shopping season. I hope you'll consider saving a bit of your budget for some folks who need help from the rest of us. One program I'd like to recommend again, as I do at this time every year, is the "Gift of Reading" sponsored by the Mercury News and Kids in Common. Reading is such a basic part of a productive life, and this book drive is a worthy way to get books into the hands of children who will gobble up words, given the chance, the way we all gobble up our Thanksgiving turkeys and trimmings. For many of these children, the books will be their only holiday gifts this year. So Gift of Reading is looking for new or like-new volumes, and asks that you not wrap them so the books can be sorted by age group. A cash donation is also welcome. You can find much more information on the program's website. Or call +1 (408) 882-0900, extension 11, or send e-mail to Please help out if you can. (Image via NASA) [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

7:19:53 PM    

This has relevance to other kinds of thinking besides computer architecture...

Joel Spolsky: "When you go too far up, abstraction-wise, you run out of oxygen. Sometimes smart thinkers just don't know when to stop, and they create these absurd, all-encompassing, high-level pictures of the universe that are all good and fine, but don't actually mean anything at all." [Scripting News]

7:16:25 PM    

 Sunday, November 21, 2004

Oliver Willis has a branding campaign for the Democrats underway at his blog.

Here's a sample:

Go, Oliver.


1:00:11 PM    

Several good points, particularly about Giuliani - isn't he the one who really led us after 9/11?...

THINK!At the dinner in Vancouver I was one of only two or three Americans, the rest were Canadians. Of course they wanted to talk about the political situation in the US. What's to become of the Democratic party? This is much-discussed in the US too. Why worry? The diversity in the country won't go away just because the Democrats can't nominate a winner. Even within the Republican Party there's choice. Democrats could vote for Schwarzenegger or Giuliani (who is a citizen). Are either of these really any less repulsive than Kerry? Think about it. I'm now where I was before Kerry was the Democratic nominee. I think we do it backwards in the US. First we should decide what our issues are, then we should go shopping for representatives to represent us. See the connection? Represent. We end up voting for minor, almost irrelevant differences, and as a result, no representation, and our country can't make positive change. I don't believe the red-staters are bad or stupid. I think they're stuck in the same mess the rest of us are. [Scripting News]

12:56:55 PM    

 Friday, November 19, 2004

Get out those sneakers, babe:

Even Couch Potatoes May Have Been Born to Run. Humans evolved into the way they look today probably because of the need to cover long distances, scientists said today. By By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD. [NYT > Home Page]

7:51:37 PM    

The FCC Censorship Machine.

  • Jeff Jarvis: Censorship by the tyranny of the few. With not much original reporting, I discovered that the latest big fine by the FCC against a TV network -- a record $1.2 million against Fox for its "sexually suggestive" Married by America -- was brought about by a mere three people who actually composed letters of complaint. Yes, just three people.
  • The First Amendment is under attack, and I can't understand why the "conservatives" are so happy to see it happen. They've rightly complained about some of the left's overzealous "speech codes" at universities, but can't see why this is a much, much bigger threat -- ultimately to their own speech. I just got back to Hong Kong from Shanghai, where I met some young bloggers who have been cowed by odious government speech restrictions; they don't dare talk politics in a medium that is made to order for debating the issues of our times. America isn't China, but what's going on with broadcast censorship is an awful trend. [Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

    7:42:53 PM    

    Just finished a business class today in which a very smart professor lamented that in 18 months, Google will have been over-run by Microsoft. Can we prevent this?...

    Google Scholar.

    This should be useful - Google Scholar: " Google Scholar enables you to search specifically for scholarly literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints, abstracts and technical reports from all broad areas of research. Use Google Scholar to find articles from a wide variety of academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as well as scholarly articles available across the web."


    7:37:30 PM