Category Archives: Blog Responses
Slistopher posed the following questions recently:
1. What do you define as “tech skills”?
2. Which types of “tech skills” (broadly defined) have you found to be particularly useful in your work environments?
3. What do you see as being the most useful technology skills for LIS professionals, in general?
4. Have you ever taken the time to learn a particular skill, only to find that it wasn’t helpful at all?
5. How important do you think “soft skills” (communication, interpersonal skills, etc.) are for LIS professionals?
6. If you were in the position of hiring a librarian/archivist/other LIS professional, which types of “tech” knowledge/experience would you expect a candidate to possess?
1. ‘Tech skills’ fall into two categories: hardware and software. While some may be more adept at configuring hardware than others and likewise some may feel more competent with a certain program than others, essentially either of these areas of skill are learned and familiarity induced through interaction over time. Many people ask me personally (concerning building computers) “how did you learn all this stuff?” – and the answer is I have been building computers in some capacity for 18 years. Like most things in life, there is no replacement for experience.
2. Software skills are undoubtedly more valued and useful everyday. Understanding hardware is helpful, but not requisite for most everyday simple tasks. Understanding the essentially simple mechanics of programs makes learning foreign programs more expedient.
4. I cannot think of one. Learning any computer or tech skill is beneficial, typically it is the conceptual context of the skill that is the aspect with the most utility.
5. Extremely. Effective communication is often the most decisive factor in success or failure, in my experience.
6. I would look for the skills mentioned in answer #3, at the very bottom of the totem pole is at least adeptness with typical productivity software (MS Office, Adobe, et al).
That’s my two cents!
This post about the much discussed “Where It All Went Wrong” speech makes a critical observation in the closing remark in my thoughts. It is imperative for libraries to do something they are not expressly trained and assigned to do, that is market themselves. Libraries must be enthusiastic about the services they offer and able to communicate them effectively to the community they serve in order to realize the potential of their capabilities. This may prove an arduous task when as mentioned in the referring post libraries typically have limited funding and specialized personnel to accomplish such tasks. The scenario remains however that librarians must become stewards of their renown and utilize all the tools available to them to familiarize the community with their presence.
This post does a fantastic job of synthesizing the referenced information concerning management of digital images. Alteration of digital objects is so easily achievable it is perilous to assume that all digital representations are true 1:1 copies of their physical counterparts. This could lead to the consideration that it is futile to digitize in the first place. However, obviously widespread dissemination is only reachable through digital distribution. Commercially in the video game market companies have realized this as well. A software company, Valve, launched a digital distribution service known as Steam in 2003 and quickly dominated sales of personal computer video games. In 2015 you will rarely ever find personal computer games sold at retail in physical manifestations due to the effect of Steams digital distribution. Obviously digital distribution allows reach to a wider audience at a very low cost compared to maintaining multiple physical locations. In the case of libraries many items are of course unique which further constitutes rational for digitization and circulation via electronic means.
In Slistopher’s post he considers mass digitization. An interesting point is brought up about the quality control issues that plague mass digitization projects like Google’s books project. I think it comes down to money. In Google’s case I believe they moved so rapidly on digitization projects in an attempt to decrease the value of ebook markets which rival Amazon has dominated. For a mass digitization effort to truly have preservation as its goal I think it must adhere to some form of standardized practice and protocol. Without this there is no telling what kind of accessibility you will have in the present or the future. Further what kind of physical preservation will be associated with the physical media which stores the digitized objects.
I enjoyed the good nature of this blog post and agree that it while it is an unusual comparison to think of libraries being like Microsoft, it is an astute observation. As has become the case in the world of technology if you aren’t innovating you aren’t relevant and the tale of Microsoft in the mid-90s, flush with success from the monumental adoption of Windows 95, is comparable to the state of library institutions reluctant to be receptive toward adoption of new identities and functions in a digital world. The biggest take home for me was the concept of libraries not having a monopoly on research anymore, or further not having a monopoly on many of the functions they are traditionally thought to have. This challenge seems to override the digital preservation realm which we are discussing this week especially.
Well I had to write a response to a posting about gaming given my position as owner/operator of HB Gaming in Tuscaloosa. I shared an anecdote in the comments over at Metadata For Breakfast from the early days of our business. I had proudly setup a Super Nintendo console (my own) in the store among all the other consoles we have and we invited the UA gaming club down to checkout the place. One of the visitors exclaimed upon seeing the SNES, “Oh wow I’ve never actually seen an SNES in person?” – this left me feeling aged and shocked she had never seen this device. I think it highlights though that we are fixed to certain devices by our place in time, or the age in which we matriculated. It is important to remember that there are many more avenues for information that we neglect from the past and that we can never anticipate those that will develop in the future. The best course of action then is stewardship with an eye on the past and our thoughts on future accessibility.
Adam’s post about digital music compares the descriptive service of record sleeves and liner notes associated with analog music distribution to relative lack of description found with digital music purchases. I think this consideration may also be helpful this week as we consider digital preservation. Much music in the digital wild, especially illegally rendered copies, are of low quality. In response to this entities such as Pono Music have come about trying to sell digital music at high quality renderings. Not only can the quality of description vary in the digital realm, but also the quality of the object as well – especially when it is meant to surrogate or supplant something in the ‘analog’ world.