career, libraries, psychology, technology, work

Germ phobia, and the possibilities of tech

I don’t think this is a topic which comes up pretty often, but it’s applicable in this case: I’m already used to the germ phobia that is going around right now. That is, I am already used to having high barriers bordering on paranoia in regard to pathogens.

I’m still not great at not touching my face (though it’s almost always done with the back of my hand or my wrist, at this point), but the hand-washing stuff…this just gives me an excuse to wash as frequently as I feel is appropriate. It would be a good idea to put together a kit with extra soap and lotion, though: I have been at work when we’ve run out of soap, and lotion helps with the drying that happens with frequent washing. Drying also happens when using bleach-based wipes to disinfect things, without gloves as a barrier. My aim is to avoid cracked skin, which gives pathogens a way to enter the body (and is generally unpleasant).

So the rest of this month — not every day, but often enough to catch something — I will have to go in to work. Already scheduled. It wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that there are seniors in my household — to protect them, I need to protect myself. As of yet, I’m not mandated to report for any more days than I’ve agreed to. Into April, though…it’s not certain how much I’ll be working. Thankfully, that shouldn’t be an issue, at least for the short term. Also — if I come down with something that isn’t Coronavirus, I’ll be able to stay home (and possibly miss people who could be contagious with Coronavirus).

The major issue I can see is that the libraries really should be closed, if the schools are closed and people are being cautioned not to gather in groups or travel unnecessarily. The entire basis of the library is gathering and sharing. I can see the necessity to stay open for people who need to use the computers; that’s an economic and technological disparity issue. But seriously: I’m even wary of picking up my own Holds.

I know what it’s like to be handling books. We can’t wash our hands after touching every book. What we can do is disinfect what is possible to disinfect after the items are returned, so that they go into the system “clean” (or at least, “cleaner”), but then there’s the issue of who does that work, and how we protect them. Protect them not only from the virus, but also from the effects of being exposed to harsh chemicals for so long (for example, respiratory distress).

I’m also expecting a lot of calls on how to access electronic collections. That’s not the easiest thing to assist a person with, especially as I can’t see what they’re seeing, over the phone, and I haven’t used every type of electronic device. I also set up my own devices a long time ago, and while at least the better versions of ebook-sharing software are fairly intuitive, that doesn’t mean that all of those versions represent anything easy to access.

To tell the truth, some of the more difficult versions, I don’t even want to try to use.

It is possible it will be quieter (though with the kids out of school…?). There is also the fact that in six months, no one has asked how to get set up to use the more difficult ebook platform in a way that required me to do more than point to the FAQ. Also frustrating is the lack of attention to the setup process and maintenance by whoever is running it.

But yes, I’ve had issues with my system’s electronic infrastructure for years. Just because I have a degree, now, doesn’t mean those issues go away. (I’ve also had fantasies of making it better, but the main point of that is the fact that making it better means constantly being on top of things — new technologies, new threats, and old and outdated tech; particularly as we figure out how to merge old information into new information systems — a burden I’m not sure I want to take on.)

It is satisfying to be able to actually understand some of what gets thrown around online…and my computer skills are probably more advanced than those of the average user (if that exists). However, having the responsibility to be on top of things, or the network goes down, or I lose my job…that’s not something I really want.

Now, if I actually trained for this, and knew what I was doing, knew the system inside and out, and exactly what was happening — that would be different. But that requires, likely, an additional degree (or two) in Computer Science (or Engineering) which I don’t have, and am not really Jonesing for. Though it would be a way to make an impact and a living — a fairly decent one.

There is also the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) thing that I mentioned a while back, though I’m not sure how much any of them deal with the fundamentals of how technology works, more than how to use it. As for whether I would actively pursue that knowledge…it’s a lifelong commitment to something I don’t think I love enough.

Is that because I don’t understand it enough?

technology

All I did was turn it off for the night

Tech…it’s so great when it works, so irritating when it doesn’t. I’m just getting used to turning my computer back on and needing to update four things before I can use it. And — having to look up how to update something before I can update it, because no one bothered to introduce the topic of how to run routine updates.

Sorry, that probably sounds…”irritating.” :P (I know the word I want to use; just can’t use it, here.) But as I was waiting for my computer to become usable again, I actually completed a back-stitched seam for a quilt top. And started another one. After I searched all over my house for my glass head pins. It took that long.

T H A T _ L O N G.

Well, I guess I don’t need my needle to finish loading before I can get it caught in my finger, now do I.

And, now my fan has decided to be loud. Great.

See you later. Or tomorrow. Or never. You know, I can’t tell. I need to install some other updates.

art, technology

Solving technical difficulties

I had almost forgotten about those text-only posts about the drawing inks and watercolors! Well…let’s see. I do work over the weekend, but midweek I might have time for playing with this, some more. The drawback to posting (color) scans is that I have to use a machine with which I’m not highly familiar.

Then there’s the fact that I trained on Photoshop, but don’t want to pay $20/month to have permission to use it. I think I mentioned somewhere a while ago (maybe on a defunct blog) that I had been using PS Elements — until some update made it suddenly stop working. Was that intentional? I don’t know. But it didn’t make Adobe look good.

Of course, this is part of a long argument propounded by former Photoshop users. There are other solutions, but they take retraining, and their UX is often not as intuitive. Then there’s the fact that Adobe has probably made strides to make sure they get into the classrooms.

I do have half a mind to hook up my drawing tablet again. I took it off for my own reasons, but it reminds me that there are alternatives to Adobe. Not necessarily all open-source…not that open-source is bad, but I wonder what else is out there.

Having worked with watercolor paints recently made me realize something: one of my earlier instructors who was a Digital Illustrator, was right in that he said that digital art was made to emulate physical media, but it wasn’t a replacement for it. I haven’t been through all the art programs out there, but I wonder if anyone has replicated the blossoming of color that happens with good watercolor paint, in wet-in-wet painting. I bet someone has (it’s probably on a Mac, though).

Of course, if I’m photo-editing, I can probably do that better on the computer than in the darkroom (particularly because I don’t know how to process film, and the thought of developing photos has always put me a little on edge).

There is the possibility of getting a Mac tablet and Apple Pencil…but it’s seriously a lot of money. I mean, I’d have to work out a plan and timetable to save up for the thing, and I don’t even know if I’d like it. I guess that’s why there are Apple Stores.

Of course…if I’m going to do that, I could save up for a Mac first, and if I don’t like how the Apple Pencil works upon trying it out, I can apply the savings to a Cintiq. The price has gone down since I last checked.

(Really, Haru? You’re really entertaining this?)

Then there’s this stuff about scanning or photography.

This is kind of too much to think about, right now. I have, however, located a couple of models which would work…the question is…is it that important to me.

That depends on how much time I actually spend making artwork. It hasn’t been much, recently. If, however, I spent as much time painting as I did writing — trying to work on it every day, you know — that…that would be great.

And yes, I do need to give myself permission to make my life not all about my career. Though there is the possibility, I found yesterday…of helping to run the art displays at one or more libraries, which would give me valuable experience if I wanted to work in or run a gallery (and thus get back into the visual art world). It wouldn’t pay — it’s a volunteer position. But still…that’s really interesting, you know?

There is more I have to say about…languages. I realized the other night that while I may have been taught the basic mechanics of Spanish language, no one ever really encouraged me to do any recreational reading in Spanish, or to use the language outside the classroom. That (and the missionary angle of most of my teachers) has very obviously impacted my regard for it.

Also — I’ve realized that if I learn Spanish instead of Japanese — this would give me much more time to work on my Art. (I’ve also realized that the evangelical pamphlet that someone donated the other day, was likely written to be easy to read. I found a book by Neil Gaiman in the Spanish Children’s section the other day, which I couldn’t well read. I could read it well enough to know that it was likely disturbing.) ;)

Relearning Spanish also doesn’t mean that I won’t ever learn Japanese.

Anyway…it’s almost midnight, and I’ve got an early morning, tomorrow. More has happened…but I should get some rest.

art, drawing, graphic design, technology

Handwriting to drawing to painting

I’m not sure how much or whether I have mentioned on this blog, a thought about the interrelatedness of writing by hand, and of drawing. It’s something that was reinforced for me when visiting an art store today and emerging with a couple of little markers.

Whenever I start drawing, it seems kind of inevitable that I would be drawn into practicing my handwriting in Japanese language. I have a relatively solid grasp of kana (phonetic characters) and a very introductory knowledge of kanji (ideographic characters). The thing is…it’s very, very tempting to try and practice getting stroke quality, size, type, proportion of each character in such a way as it becomes beautiful at the same time as it contains meaning.

Of course, this is likely related to my interest both in Graphic Design and calligraphy, painting, and some spiritual bents such as Zen Buddhism. The last three, in particular, are very related historically in an East Asian context, along with poetry. I wouldn’t have known that without having researched the topic of art and writing within Zen, for a graduate project…but I’m fairly sure that this also pre-dates Zen and goes back to the literati in ancient China.

Okay, and that gets really complicated, with the introduction of Buddhist dharma (way of existence) into China, and the mixture of Buddhism and what are now called Daoism, Confucianism, etc. That was introduced into what is now Korea and from there, Japan, though there were multiple transmissions. (Buddhism is not native to East Asia; so far as I know, it originated in South Asia [now India], and traveled through Central Asia into China — but my sources are skewed due to the fact that I currently can only read English-language versions of the history of this. English-language versions of, “what Buddhism is,” by people who only know other English-language versions, are generally imperfect at best, warped and misunderstood, at worst.)

My point is basically that there’s a large historical precedent for my interest in this, and that I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these values were passed on to me by the cultures of family and friends (at the least). To get deeply into that goes into some personal spiritual beliefs (or lack of them), which I’m not even all the time sure on (see the Dao De Jing/Tao Te Ching for a reference to why I may not talk about this — it’s a short work), but it gives me some stability. An inkling of it.

Anyhow…I read somewhere that the expression of the writer/artist with ink and brush was supposed to be a reflection of the one who wrote it, although at times an artist would get someone else to do the calligraphy for him. (Most of what I’ve read goes over male artists/poets/calligraphers; that doesn’t mean they all were, but it’s what I’ve seen.)

I believe that it is because of the high value placed on literacy and writing in at least Japan, that the language has turned out as beautiful (and complex) as it is. There are thousands of kanji (ideographic symbols borrowed from Chinese language) to learn to read and write, though there are also patterns within the kanji (like their formative elements, or “radicals”) that give clues to their meanings and readings.

I did start this post talking about the interrelatedness of writing by hand and of making art. My concern is that when people shift from writing with their hands, to writing by typing — only — that the practice which allows drawing to grow from writing, and painting to grow from drawing, is avoided. I do have some concern over the fact that most of us — unless we make a conscious effort otherwise — will likely be writing mostly by using a keyboard, and facing a computer screen. Not by hand, with paper (or any surface) and whatever instrument you use to write with, which could be pencil or marker or pen or brush or charcoal or something else. Something that will make a mark. Anything that will make a mark.

There’s a freedom to any of the latter in that you can express yourself not only in how the text is encoded, but in how it is drawn, and also that you can draw other things that are not letters or punctuation! My drawing, really, started in the margins of my notes and writings for school, as a young teen. I got bored. I found a way to express myself which no one could take away from me, without also taking away my learning tools.

Coincidentally, it was also close to that time at which I started to learn kana. I was into anime, particularly Bishoujo Senshi Sailormoon, and I wanted to know how to read the text in the Japanese-language books I had to accompany the series. This was also, particularly, because I knew there were a number of seasons and movies (most of them, actually) which had not been translated into English. The only contact I had with these movies and series were the anime books (these must have a name; they’re an entire genre) and untranslated VHS tapes which I found through local venues.

I’m guessing that for me — at least, right now — writing in Japanese is closer to art, than writing in English. That is changing a bit, as I experiment with incorporating more cursive into my handwriting (which inevitably makes it messier than my regular [legible] print; or my regular cursive, where my “r”s are a bit…hard to identify). It’s probably also because writing in Japanese is less familiar to me. But I think I need a bit of a challenge in my reading — and not from English sentences being indecipherable. (It happens in college readings, sometimes. I’ve had textbooks like this. I’m not kidding. SENTENCES WHICH MAKE NO SENSE.)

I have, off-and-on, heard arguments or concerns about Japanese youth losing the skill of reading because of the popularity of manga (comics). I’m not so much concerned about that at this moment, but rather the loss of artistic skill and development which may loom because of a digital revolution in which no one can even write (well) by hand, anymore. It’s already a given that a lot of schools in the U.S. no longer teach how to write in cursive, making the reading of things like old ledgers written in Copperplate script, difficult to read. (I can barely read Copperplate. How much worse must it be for kids who didn’t learn cursive in Kindergarten?)

I also wonder how much I have bought into that in the past, because I did have to spend so much of my time in front of a screen. Something that no one told me, though, is that going to school online does mean that you have to take copious notes (even when the Professor gives handouts). Which are best done by hand. It’s hard when you haven’t written quickly and legibly in a very long time. And, I’m finding, it’s likely harder to draw when you haven’t written by hand at all in a very long time.

I’ve been writing by hand recently, though (which I’ve referenced in earlier posts here), and…it is easier to edge back into mark-making by just trying to write correctly in Japanese. I am not entirely certain why, except for the fact that I now can tell when they’re right (or at least when they’re beautiful), and when they aren’t. I do believe that a lot of that is due to my art training. Before someone close to me dropped out of Japanese-language class, the teacher saw my writing trying to help them on their homework, and said I had “nice handwriting.” So…I don’t know what that’s worth, except that I know I’m not going way into calligraphic territory. It’s legible. That’s good.

So far, I’ve not personally focused on this Inktober thing, but it is kind of inspiring to see all the works people are doing. I’ve also been able to get into acrylic paint markers…which, alongside my Pitt pens and alcohol markers…they’re alluring because of the use of color, for one thing. Opacity also helps, and it’s absent in other water-based and alcohol-based markers. I wouldn’t consider myself into graffiti in any way, but there’s something in the graphic qualities of marker that’s there for me.

I’m thinking that if I get deep enough into this…work in paint may come easier to me. I realized that Acryla gouache is what I was seeking, in a hybrid between acrylics and watercolors which I could utilize on paper without abusing my watercolor brushes (gesso is rough) — say for miniatures. (I still love Shahzia Sikander.) There’s also the possibility of using gouache mixed with acrylic glazing medium, or the (gasp!) use of transparent watercolors mixed with gouache.

I haven’t tried any of that yet, though they’re all creative possibilities. Right now what I have to deal with is how to get my markers out so I can see them, and how to combine transparent, opaque, and permanent inks…

…and paints. If I try, I’ll find out what works, and what doesn’t. As I’m learning, a lot of art (or at least design), seems to be about that. That, and not getting hung up on what other people say art should be…

art, craft, seed beads, self care, technology

Taking account: Humanities/Social Sciences/Arts/Crafts…yeah,

I’m not a Hard Sciences person, and I shouldn’t try to be one for the sake of being like my dad. I’m not him.

Today, instead of JavaScript training, it’s back to tiny tiny beads for me, and macramé. Micromacramé. Nanomacramé? ;) I have been using size 11° seed beads, 3mm Czech fire-polished beads, and C-Lon Micro, which are all very tiny, and kind of made for each other.

I didn’t even realize before breaking back into my 11°s that they’re basically about 2mm across. Using a pattern that looks like a macramé version of Daisy Chain (without the roundabouts), I’ve been able to tinker my way to a smaller version of what I was working on last with standard C-Lon and 8° beads. I don’t know if I’ve posted images of it here, yet — or if that was on an alternate blog (which is down, for now).

Right now I’m not even sure as to whether I should go back to Photoshop. I think I would post a lot more images if it were easier to modify them…though what I’m using now has a lot of options (and likely more technical options than at least PS Elements), it isn’t the most intuitive program. Its UX isn’t great.

I’ve been reading Adolfo Best-Maugard’s A Method for Creative Design (first published in 1926). It’s been interesting, though at this point (30 pages from the end of the book), I don’t think I’ll purchase it. There is some interesting content, but the book is based on a pretty idiosyncratic viewpoint which I’m not sure I buy into. I mean, it’s interesting to read, but whether I accept the author’s argument is something else.

There’s also this thing about the context of the late 1800’s and early 1900’s that seems to resonate with me. I wouldn’t be surprised if the author was influenced by Spiritualism, which was active around the same time period. Both reflect a desire to seek out what is common between all the world’s peoples, at an early stage of globalization.

Best-Maugard essentially analyzed world or “primitive” art and broke down many of the designs he found into simple constituent elements which could be rearranged into various two-dimensional representations. What’s disappointing for me about this book is that it seems he is only teaching a method based on one form — the spiral — meaning that there is a lot more that he holds back. I would have preferred a longer edition with fewer drawings, explaining or demonstrating further these other primitive forms. As it is, I haven’t so far seen him speak about the latter; only that they exist, and that he isn’t going into them.

Anyhow: as much as I appreciate the fine arts, and love the color mutability possible in painting…painting isn’t easy for me at this point. I’ve been attempting to get back into it…but for some reason…flowers aside, I’m not drawn to common subjects, like portraits or landscapes or figures. I just don’t see the point. I can appreciate art made with these subjects, but it’s not my art.

That could be me coming from a writer’s background, too. In writing, conflict and tension are the main drive behind the narrative: in fine arts, it seems people reproduce (or create) the placid and agreeable a lot of the time, and I haven’t been able to reconcile these two modes or methods.

One of the things that has struck me is that it’s possible my native method is more lexical; as stringing different colors of beads on colored thread and tying those threads together, echoes the form of language or parallel processing. It’s just a thought: I’m not even totally sure about it yet.

But one thing I realized today is that I really did not want to get back to my JavaScript training. I got to my course, looked at it, and decided to do something else. I know I focused on Digital Services in school, but I think the experience of training under that method has made it clear how little I like to interface with computers in computer-language. It’s not quite arcane; it’s more binary.

And the beads were staring me in the face (I bought maybe 14 little 7.5 gram vials recently: no point in getting a whole lot of any one color when I hadn’t seen them), and I had bought a lot of tiny C-Lon, so I just went and got the stuff out. No reason to get the stuff if I’m never going to use it.

For some reason…dealing with beads and cords and color…it’s relaxing. Whereas work on the computer is more often than not, tension- and anxiety-inducing. Not to mention that it’s likely in the process of destroying my eyesight.

Before going to an online Master’s program, I thought it would be OK to be on the computer more. But being intensively on the computer for 6+ hours a day is something I don’t think I could tolerate.

But really, the Digital Services path only really determined seven to eight classes out of the twenty I took.

Yeah, I guess that’s a lot. Like, a third.

Maybe what I need is really to decompress and stop taking classes for a bit. It would be ironic if taking these classes taught me that I didn’t like the subjects the classes were about.

It really wasn’t too bad, until I took Database Management and Fundamentals of Programming. Then…I was like, “what did I get into?” I also don’t have a Computer Science or IT background (or even a Hard Sciences one after high school, although I still love Geology and Astronomy), so I’m at something of a disadvantage in the digital field. I know that if I want to stay current in Web Development, it will take constant acquisition of new skills to keep up with the pace of technological change. I’m not sure that I care enough to actively choose to do that for the rest of my life.

Maybe that’s why the people in those positions get paid so well.

At this point, I’m clearer that I am a Humanities and Social Sciences person, although I don’t think Sociology is where I want to be. I attempted that for a couple of years in my undergraduate training. It was depressing.

Psychology was easier and more engaging, but I never really went deeply into it. History was amazing — particularly World History. I loved that: being able to fit pieces of thoughts together into a coherent image. I also loved Ethnic Studies, even though I took classes just different enough from my own position to be able to expand my view. Though I somewhat regret not having taken Japanese-American Literature, I also know that I’m immersed enough that nothing in an undergraduate class on it would have been new to me.

I also regret not having bitten the bullet and taken Japanese Language & Literature as my undergraduate major. I don’t regret having honed my English writing skills, but I am irritated that people devalue good writing so much. There is also the issue of being able to ever find work or a way of being in Japan in which I wouldn’t be exploited, being a dark-skinned female (kokujin, or “black person,” is still an accepted term in lieu of amerikajin, even if the “black person” is also “American”) with no plans on marriage or children…but yeah, insider stuff.

It was likely my experience with my birth family — and trying to be included in an Asian clique — which caused me to lean against learning Japanese language, though.

I could get further into that, but I won’t.

In any case…I’ve been finding people just kind of randomly on the Reader who do things that no one else does. Like the person who paints silk scarves, or the person encouraging me in tatting. There are a few of us who do regularly post on beadwork, but not many. I get many more “Likes” on my painting posts than on my beadwork posts…but that doesn’t mean I should work on my painting, instead.

Seriously. I think more people can just connect with painting, whereas bead weaving or beaded micromacramé is relatively niche (which is a good thing so far as niche markets are concerned, but)…

It’s just kind of tough to be disconnected. I should probably go out of my way to join a beadwork forum or two, though as my specialization is beaded micromacramé at this point…yeah, that’s…that’s kind of special. (I was inspired with the macramé bug by someone working with cords and gemstones, though what I do is much different from their work.)

I wonder if giving resources would help others get involved in the hobby? I’ve been reluctant to do so, for my own reasons…

creativity, technology, work

Priorities?

There are a number of things I could and should be doing with my time. Due to constraints, I’m prevented from disclosing everything, right now: but I was able to download my certificate from the last of my short courses, today. I feel that I should go back and review, but at the same time, I’m not really that driven to do so.

I do feel that it’s very probable that I should not be a full-time Cataloging Librarian, although I know some say I would be really good at it. The problem is, the work itself is something I don’t like.

So…what I was saying earlier on this blog — that by August, I’ll know if I want to be a Cataloger — has indeed come to fruition. Although I wouldn’t count out a library job that happens to include it, I know I wouldn’t want to do it as my primary work. Up next is getting back to JavaScript, which so far I haven’t really begun. This is largely because I pretty much hate having to review. I can get back to it, though.

Once I have a handle on at least one Web Programming language, I’ll know if I want to work in Tech — specifically, Full-Stack Web Development. Like I was saying earlier…I think I’d be really engaged in working on Front-End Web Development, including Web Design and User Experience, but Back-End is something I know I don’t particularly like. I’m fairly certain it has to do with the same reason why I feel such a constraint when writing online — that it’s very linear and rule-bound and — well — technical, in a mathematical-logic sort of way. (If it violates logic, that is, it isn’t possible.) It’s just different to work by hand. It’s something that isn’t as tightly bound to logical reasoning.

One of the big reasons I got into Digital Services, though, is that I’m fairly certain that communications and learning are going to move more in the direction of multimedia, and away from just plain text as you can read in books. Because of that, I felt it was worth my while not to just focus on books.

Even text as read online, in e-books — there is a logical jump from reading paper books to reading e-books, and then wondering, with the abilities of a computer, why we’re only replicating print. We could do video, music, image (in larger format than print), interaction, animated illustration and design, gamifying, community-building, and eventually immersion. I think this is the direction in which we’re moving as a society, and it could lower barriers to learning for a lot of people who experience difficulty with traditional instruction (i.e. books, text, lecture).

Of course, I’m not an Instructional Design Librarian — though what I’ve just written makes me think about becoming an Emerging Technologies Librarian. I don’t think I have the undergraduate background for it, though (English!), and I’m also not sure I have the risk tolerance for constantly trying out new technologies (and partitioning my hard drive to routinely restore the operating system, and keeping several levels of backups).

I mean, I’m really into the Arts and Humanities (I think Digital Humanities could be interesting) — I don’t have a Hard Sciences background, so I’m not sure I’ve gone through the intellectual rigor necessary for understanding the possibilities of new technology. I just have the brain to dream up what one day might be (and to some extent, already is) — not whether it’s possible with current technology (or will be possible).

Anyhow. Like I said, there’s a lot I could be doing, and up next is getting back into Web Programming. Also, Japanese language. Also, beadwork and tatting. Also, writing. Also, job search. Also, watercolor. Also, sewing, embroidery, and designing embroidery patterns. I should really prioritize these things, but with everything in flux, I’m having a hard time. Maybe I can try, though:

Not necessary:

  • Beadwork (can use this as second income)
  • Tatting
  • Sewing
  • Embroidery
  • Watercolor
  • Drawing
  • Block printing
  • Art study (currently: embroidery design) — books

More necessary:

  • Web Programming study (useful at work) — digitally and books
  • Japanese Language study (useful at work) — by hand and digitally
  • Writing in English (skill retention) — by hand or digitally

Essential:

  • Job Search (finding better work) — digitally (at Library)
  • Learning to drive (finding better work) — activity
  • Learning to cook (to feed myself) — activity
  • Customer-service study (useful at work) — books

And looking at this, getting another fountain pen and ink is like…well, why?

Why, indeed. Maybe I can do it as efforts toward making a Bullet Journal, and my Bullet Journal could be my excuse to be creative while still working towards getting done what I need to get done…

LIS, technology

The “fun” part of work?

Seeing my Vocational counselor recently got me to realize that while I’m aiming for an entry-level Librarian position (professional), or a Library Assistant position (paraprofessional), my intent at the beginning of all of this was to go into either Cataloging or Web Design.

Because of issues with Cataloging which I’m now familiar with as persistent and known cultural problems (particularly within DDC and LCC, the two major classification systems in U.S. libraries [at least if BISAC hasn’t crept up and taken more ground from DDC than I know]), but which struck me out of the blue as a cultural minority student, I switched out of Cataloging early on to focus on Digital Services. Particularly, I wanted to learn coding in a situation where I wouldn’t have to worry about being stigmatized or harassed or seen as a non-person because of being female.

While I didn’t go all the way into the Web Programming path…I can see that the latter was what I have been thinking of, when I think of needing to know current versions of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, JQuery, PHP, MySQL (not to mention mastering command-line interfaces), etc.

Maybe it’s not so bad; I mean, I can understand a lot now that I couldn’t, before. My current LCC course builds on a lot that I was introduced to in Library School (like MARC encoding), that I wouldn’t understand otherwise. It’s similar with my Metadata knowledge and the database stuff I had to go through. The last was really difficult, but I now at least have had an introduction to it.

I’m thinking and hoping that the Master’s program was intended just to be an introduction to the current terrain…and not that it was meant to make me fully capable of engaging with it on my own (because I don’t feel ready to do that, yet). I also need to remember, though, that in the real world, teamwork happens. I probably will not need to know everything, myself.

At least, I hope not.

Tonight, I’ve been catching up on Social Media — maybe, “catching up on,” isn’t the right phrase — maybe, “using,” Social Media (as versus, “not using,”) is closer to the reality. While I was in classes, I basically put social interaction outside of family, school, work, a couple of groups, and blogging, to the side; and otherwise limited my interaction. Now that I’m out, there is this emphasis on, “networking,” and I’m realizing how many ties with people I’ve made over the years (although in a lot of cases, they’re rusty ties).

I’ve also been checking in on the Career Center for my alma mater. I think I underestimate myself, my network, and my strengths. Somehow it isn’t surprising: I have a tendency to set very high standards for myself (not to mention that I have a tendency to doubt I can reach them). The major drawback to this in my case is that if I think I have no chance at success, I have a tendency to avoid engagement.

I mean, on one level, that’s really a survival strategy — it’s way harder to get through a class when you’re lost, especially when you’re part of a team (and the team isn’t helping you, and you feel like the slackers who mooched off you in high school, but you really don’t know what you’re doing). On another level, that type of thinking keeps me from trying things that I might be able to do but am afraid I can’t (like taking Project Management or Cybersecurity, both things I know I need to know, but which I am leery of taking in a University setting where my GPA is on the line).

I seem to remember hearing something like this from several years ago, coming out of MIT…how students were punished for failing, when they should be supported for risk-taking — and students who played it safe and took easy classes (resulting in high GPAs) were lauded.

During my time in the Master’s program, I tried to take a middle road and not do something that seemed too easy. It’s part of why I went for a tech-oriented path: I figured that I should learn something moderately difficult, instead of something I could puzzle through on my own.

Of course, going for entry-level Librarian jobs…that isn’t so tech-heavy. It leans more into Customer Service, Psychology, and Politics…

…which, of course, are also difficult, just in a different way. Majorly, they are difficult in ways that have to do with people. Which…isn’t where I thought I’d end up. But without knowledge of a solid Programming language, at this point, and without Cataloging knowledge…or experience in the field (or even really knowledge of the field), I’m at a disadvantage.

Hmm. That means get to know the field! Right? Fill in those knowledge gaps!

And remember that an entry-level Librarian job is just entry-level. It’s not forever.