career, LIS, technology

XML excitement :P

I’m writing this now because I’m determined to get to bed before 10 PM local time. I’ve been staying up way too late (even if I was doing homework), and I know I need to keep my immunity up. There is basically no excuse for me, not to do so. There is nothing more important right now, that is, than not getting sick. (I’ve been having slight irritation in my esophagus for the past two days, and I know it’s likely from not getting enough regular sleep.)

Over the past five days…a number of things have happened. For one thing, I’ve started to get into my XML (eXtensible Markup Language) training, which is actually really fun — kind of like a video game, except I’m learning. I know it’s just the first week, but I’m considering getting deeper into this than I had planned.

My main issue is choosing between training paths, where those paths diverge: the first being Digital Humanities and the electronic publishing industry (or the Publishing industry in general, which appears to be becoming decentralized); the second being Linked Data and metadata specialization. The second path — well — I already know that I’m interested in it. The thing is that I’m interested in Digital Humanities, as well.

The tracks just lead along different life paths…speaking of which, I did get back into Rethinking Information Work (I stopped waiting to transcribe my self-assessment), and just got my copy of Jump Start Your Career as a Digital Librarian. My fear is that I’ll be moving forward along a path so quickly that I don’t know where it’s leading.

However, not moving forward because I don’t know where I’m going is a repeat of those nine years I spent as a Shelver, where I was trying to figure out where I was going, without actually having the experience to be able to tell what I wanted, and why. Then I moved forward and discovered a bit about what it was like to work as a paraprofessional in Public Services in a Public Library…which was likely not a great fit for me, and I don’t know if it ever will be. (Sometimes students are warned away from Technical tracks in Library School; it would have been of use to me if someone warned me away from Social tracks.)

Linked Data, anyhow, is very forward-looking and oriented towards information organization (and the integration of Library work with the rest of the world of Information), while Digital Humanities seems to have more to do with coding, and getting things produced, visible, and online. (I also should not neglect to say that my Metadata Professor [who was excellent] didn’t hold one of the classes I’ve been considering from that track, in high regard.)

The spread of high technology, however, should it become ubiquitous and inexpensive (it is not yet so in my country)…it makes me question the future of paper books. I may have mentioned this here before; I know I wrote about it, but I don’t recall where (by that I mean, if it is in hard copy or digital or cloud storage).

I see the future of information dissemination and sharing moving in the direction of video, animation, digital interaction in the form of socialization and gamification, inclusive of music and art, and possibly still text…but I think text is going to be at least a bridge and transitional stage.

After all, text at least can be, if not often is, the basis of videos and animation — in the form of scriptwriting. There’s also storyboarding, but if you don’t have notations about the story, it’s probably going to be harder to envision it to make the storyboards (though not necessarily; my own writing grew out of comic work where I was drawing the images first without thinking about the story, and the story basically emerged from what I had drawn, or was in the process of drawing).

That is, a lot of these media are story or narrative (or lecture), with something else added on top. Now, whether that something else needs to be added, or takes relative advantage of its format: that is a different question!

The major issue is that most people, at least where I am at, do not read above a 6th-grade level. This means that when we’re publishing our thoughts in text, that just de facto is going to be read by a limited segment of the population (at least, should we write above a sixth-grade level, which I’ve done for as long as I can remember).

This means a couple of things, one of which is obvious: it is a very important skill to be able to understand complex concepts and explain them clearly and accurately in simple language (although that’s basically the main concept of teaching). The other thing is that if we don’t do this, it seems to enforce a gap between the educated and everyone else (and then, “everyone else,” or a faction of that group, gets resentful — and you have a situation like the present one in the U.S., or in at least one other place in the world I can think of in the 20th century).

Of course, at times concepts just can’t be explained engagingly in simple language. I’m thinking of Stephen Hawking’s A Brief History of Time. That was engaging, but I couldn’t take more than three or four pages of it at once, and ended up not reading most of it. I mean, it is possible to be simultaneously incredibly interesting and boring, even though you know it’s pretty much the direct teaching of one of the most brilliant people of our time. (And, yes, he did after that, publish A Briefer History of Time, the title of which…was kind of funny, because you know right there that he was referencing losing readers with the prior book.)

I’ve had the experience of trying to read notes on “crosswalking” data (for example, Bibliographic data) from one system to another, for example, and it was so dense and filled with so many external references and systems that I haven’t yet worked with (but which are now obsolete), that I couldn’t understand it. I would link it, but I doubt anyone here would understand it (or perhaps, care), either. The major issue is trying to make the language of the standards so general, so as to fit as many situations as possible, that the reader of those standards can struggle to grasp what is actually being referred to (especially if they aren’t immersed in the usage of the concepts on a daily basis).

Anyhow — XML is…it’s really simple, though it can be difficult to get one’s head around, at first. And I am just in the first week of class, so I likely shouldn’t be jumping the gun where it comes to being excited about it…but I can understand it, to an extent, right now. I have had some HTML/CSS training (which is related but different), so that helps. I just find XML and Linked Data to be comparatively brilliant solutions to creating widely-understood coding. I can also merge my knowledge of Cataloging in here…which is almost the first time I’ve really flexed those skills outside of my Cataloging classes.

(I should note to myself that I need to collect at least shortcuts to all the different places I have Cataloging/Metadata-relevant materials stored on my machine, if not just reorganizing the hard drive.)

I’ve also realized that I don’t have to learn everything at once, which is mostly a relief. (I can learn some things at a later date, that is.) My major issue is overloading my COVID-19 free time with too many classes…

career, libraries, LIS, planning

No, I’m not my dad :)

Today, I actually made the effort to go and look back over my work for the Cataloging & Classification courses I’ve been taking (and have now finished). I didn’t do so poorly as I thought I did…most of the issue had to do with getting one concept wrong and then repeating it through questions that kept testing on that one concept.

Though I had the possibility of going back and re-trying the quizzes, I didn’t — for most of them. The one quiz where I originally got two questions right because I was overthinking things and the test was based on “if (x === ‘answer’)” was the one where I went back and redid my work.

(That is, I only got the question right if I typed in the exact string that was defined as correct, while the [∞-1] other possible strings were all equally incorrect, so far as the computer was concerned.)

And I don’t want to get back to the JavaScript training, but it might be good for me. I did invest all that time and money with the hopes of being a Web Developer. The problem for me is, how to tie the Arts, Humanities, and/or Social Sciences in with Web Development.

I also have an inkling that if I became a college professor, I’d really like to do it with History. I’d have the background. It’s just really fascinating. Then I could create OERs (Open Educational Resources) and post them online. :)

That actually isn’t a bad idea.

In regard to JavaScript, I have a really big textbook that is begging to be read…though probably not before I finish reading the Defusing Hostile Customers Workbook. There’s a lot of stuff coming up where …it may help to continue reading this, and looking back over The Librarian’s Guide to Homelessness (which I finished, a while ago). It’s not precisely what I want to be doing, but it may make things easier for me, soon. It’s better to be prepared, than not.

I had also wanted to read back over my Reference & Information Services texts. The issue is that there are three hundred pages in one text (of 800+ pages) which we were left on our own to read. I think I skimmed them, and that’s being forgiving about it.

I have read enough of Conducting the Reference Interview, 3rd Edition that I’m feeling relatively confident about that. The thing is, I have another book, Online Searching, that I started and then didn’t even try to get into, because I needed to read Conducting the Reference Interview, first. It doesn’t help to be able to find information if you’re answering the wrong question. Conducting the Reference Interview is about trying to figure out the real question someone is asking, or the “question behind the question.”

If you’re wondering about the last few posts…I’m still trying to figure out how to fuse technology with humanity. There’s a big question as to whether I’ll even be able to tolerate fitting reality into a system like Library of Congress Classification or Dewey Decimal Classification…the systems are just imperfect, but so far they’re what we have (aside from BISAC, which I don’t know much about).

I do like working with Metadata. I’ve reached the point, though, of knowing that there’s so much more I could be doing with my life, than Cataloging things.

It’s also known that a lot of places are shrugging off the Cataloging work onto vendors or other entities before they reach the libraries of destination. At the place at which I work now, for example, relatively little Cataloging is done in-house. While I could work for Publishers or vendors, I know relatively little about that (I didn’t do a Publishing internship in undergrad, so I’m not entirely familiar with the territory).

Aside from Cataloging or Metadata Librarianship, the two other specific jobs with “Library” in the name which I have been thinking of are Virtual Librarianship and Adult Services Librarianship. It looks like it will be easier to aim for the latter at this stage of the game. The difficult part for me is likely to rest in dealing with people breaking policy (which is why I’ve been doing the reading I have); the rest of it, I think I’m prepared for.

Anyhow. History, eh?

That…that could/would be fascinating and awesome. I could build my knowledge as a Librarian and then go for a PhD and professorship, or work in an Academic Library as a History Subject Specialist.

The big thing about Academic Librarianship is that you apparently get one shot at gaining tenure, and if you don’t, you’re out for good (or so I’ve been told).

Stressful, much…

The thing with History is that history that has actually happened (as versus propaganda, I mean), shapes the world we live in today. History has an impact on what things are happening, now, and how we think, now. Knowing the context of today is vital if one wants to liberate oneself from the traps of a lack of awareness (which do extend down to the languages and concepts we work with).

Okay, so I need to finish the Defusing book, get back to JavaScript, fill out my Master Application, and break into Online Searching. That sounds like enough, for now.

Business, craft, creativity, design, money, writing

What is it that I liked about Web Design?

Looking over recent job ads, I find that I have the beginnings of varied job paths — lots of areas to explore. The thing is, they’re lots of beginnings! What I have continuing practice in is, largely, writing. Surprise. ;) There’s that, and various arts and crafts that I’ve tasted…most of which, I’ve loved (I have the dubious distinction of being interested in, and wanting to do, way more than I can allocate time and resources to). The question has been, what it is that I can do with those skills that will make the investment of time, money, and energy, worth it.

I just got the idea of working the arts and crafts (and/or writing) into my immediate future employment plans, by seeking out employment at local stores, like fabric and yarn and art supply and bead stores. (I’ve recently been told that my parents have nothing against my taking a retail job, though that came as a surprise to me.) The thing is, my interest in retail is limited to what I’m interested in…it’s not retail for retail’s sake, it’s retail for community’s sake.

I don’t know if that plan is going to work, but customer service skills are of use in libraries, no kidding. Library training will also help me in customer service, it’s fairly obvious to me at this point.

If I’m planning (or hoping) to be a professional writer, like a copywriter (in addition to being a part-time library worker), it makes sense to keep up a portfolio site. I’m pretty sure I have several months before my creative writing site goes down. (There’s not a lot on it — I haven’t had it in me to generate fiction, recently. I’m pretty sure a lot of it has to do with not reading a lot of fiction, other than some literary magazine stuff.)

And, of course, what I do with a professional online presence, really depends on my Web Development skills. I’m somewhat torn between self-hosting and using wordpress.com, for that. I have experience with both; wordpress.com is convenient, but self-hosting provides many more options, including the ability to build the site from the ground up.

After I end this last Library Science class, I’ll be able to get back to my JavaScript course, and to my self-study (PHP, JavaScript, MySQL), although I’m aware that the back end of tech work isn’t my favorite place to be. I am also aware that I give up a lot of control if I don’t know how it works, and depend on a third party to moderate my interaction with it.

Granted that there are different levels of moderation. Working on the back-end of a site which just happens to include a WordPress installation, is different from trying to coax WordPress into doing what I want it to do, as my only option. It works, if you’re wholly focused on content, but if you want to tweak and customize everything…it’s more direct to just self-host.

Knowing at least one Web Programming language is the last key to my knowing if I want to work with Web Development at all, as versus Web Design or Web Production. I mean — you know. If we’re talking about the Web and its Webular Webaliciousness (okay, I’ll stop).

I do have issues with wanting to have as much personal control over my creations as I can. Thus, I can see the use in learning the back end of website production…though I think that the parts of making sites that I like…are the design of the site, and the production of content (text, images [when I can use image editors that are intuitive]; I haven’t gone into video or audio, yet). I still get a sense of accomplishment or something, when I see that I’ve built something new, and I feel the need to keep updating. In that case…constructing Web sites is like any other craft for me, only it’s virtual.

In other words, I have fun making the human-facing parts. The technical stuff, like the programming behind the scenes beyond HTML and CSS (which aren’t actually programming languages, they’re markup and styling), I’m not as into, largely because it requires the use of rigorous logic. I’m not entirely…satisfied? with logic. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’d rather be talking to people with complex minds, than talking to a machine which only knows two digits.

That could be it…

(Or maybe it’s a community thing here, too?)

I know there’s some pattern — maybe interest in the Humanities (arts, crafts, writing) versus interest in Computer Science? I’m not getting the connection totally, but it’s almost midnight. How can I expect my mind to function right now? :)

I’ll come back to it later, hopefully. :)

jewelry, metalsmithing, self care

18g earrings back in. Reconsidering metalsmithing. Procrastination or overwork (I’m not sure which).

Not much of note has happened in my life, recently. I did, last night, put in my 18 gauge earrings, which are basically circles of surgical steel wire. Because they’re so thin, they tend to deform rather than accept the (tiny) bead that is supposed to help them close. I realized last night that I didn’t actually need the bead for something this small, and just threaded them in and pinched them so that they wouldn’t fall out. I should have about six weeks before I know for a fact that I can increase the gauge. So I can go up to 16g on the 25th of August, or later; assuming I don’t take the 18g rings out, until then.

A long time ago, I did think it was OK to “gauge up” early (given that I’ve gone up and down in gauge ever since I was first pierced), but at this point I’m more reserved about it. For some reason, the piercings aren’t at the same level of looseness or tightness all the time…sometimes a scar will tighten for no foreseeable reason. When that happens, the piercing is fragile and vulnerable to microtears, which can lead to oozing or bleeding. That can further damage the piercing, if shards of dried fluid are pulled through when the ring is loosened. The last time that happened to me, I realized I had to take the larger wire out and put in a thinner one, so I wouldn’t inadvertently heal in a deformation. Then I had to wait for the piercing to heal sufficiently.

I’ve read to treat an expanded piercing just like a new one, but I think (at this point) that these two states aren’t exactly the same. If I had, for example, soaked the piercing in salt water twice a day before attempting to loosen the ring (as is recommended for fresh piercings, though that’s not medical advice), I wouldn’t have dragged dried blood through a tender site (which caused the pain that caused me to realize I had a microtear. I’m still not sure, however, whether it tore before and I didn’t notice it, or whether it tore when I felt the pain). Having had the piercings the first time was not really similar to letting them shrink down, and then re-opening them later. Had I not started at 14g (and then never gone above that), gauging up really might have been more similar to having a new piercing.

Also, the piercings I’m talking about are just basic earlobe piercings, not cartilage or body-type things. Because it’s easy for employers here to discriminate in hiring based on the number of piercings they can see on a person…there are reasons not to have too many.

Yesterday, I had the chance to wear earrings with standard posts, again: they were basically studs shaped like flowers. I had the misfortune of almost losing one…which meant that I had to pick up an earnut off the floor, then wash my hands, then wash my ear, then wash the earring…though the positive thing is, I realized I wasn’t too attached to it.

In contrast…my biggest hesitation about expanding my piercings has had to do with commitment. As for why it is that I keep taking my larger-gauge jewelry out, I think it has been because I wanted to wear the jewelry I had made before, which mostly has earwires between 22g and 18g. I also haven’t wanted my piercings to migrate because of using too fine a gauge in too large a piercing (though I’m not sure that would even happen). There’s nothing else I can think of which would be a reason.

It would probably be an easier decision for me if I were not a beadworker. To make jewelry for large-gauge piercings, I would basically need to move into metalsmithing. It’s not like it would be difficult, at least to make something like a ring, or a tunnel or plug (if I could find safe silicone o-rings). However…if I were to make anything more major, I’d be dealing with forging, and I’m not sure I have a torch strong enough to work with thick, solid metal.

I also only have the ability right now to work in silver, brass, or copper; most of the large-gauge jewelry I have, in contrast, is surgical steel. Moving into that means moving into blacksmithing. The addition of iron makes the process of forging…different. And I don’t know how to do it.

However, there are at least two or three local places that I know of (Silvera Jewelry School, the Richmond Art Center, and The Crucible), in which I could use more powerful torches than I have access to, here. I would basically have to drop into a lab, though.

Or, I could just resign myself (for now), to buying earrings, and using beadwork skills for necklaces and bracelets or anklets.

Not that I’ve made much jewelry at all, recently; I’ve been focused on lace. It is trying to devote time to this, however, where I have other things to be doing (for now), which are more important: like preparing for job interviews or searching for openings or building my LinkedIn account. However…the difficulty I’m having in taking time out for myself, somewhat indicates to me that I need to do it. I opted to write here tonight, instead of working on the lace…because for some reason (having been an English major) it seems less of a waste of time to write a blog post than it is to knot lace.

I know I could be working on my course, but the internet has been in and out all day. Besides…I’m getting tired of these courses, especially since I realize now that Cataloging is difficult for me. I know I probably should be working on my current course (or checking work in my past courses), but the thing is, “should” is a word that I’ve been trying to work out of my system, since I realized how much it was damaging me as a youth. (I was a severe overachiever, although that may be why I’m in the position I am [in regard to career prospects, and my relative lack of development in non-academic areas], now.)

Yeah, maybe I do need to stop working as hard as I can, as much as I can, just because I have a commitment or because I always expect more of myself. It’s interesting to take a vacation and then get back to work, and realize how much you appreciated not having to do it…

I also want to get back to my JavaScript course. How badly I want to get back to it? I’m not sure at this point. But I also want to get back to just basic coding. I just need to find something to build a site around…and, for now, to find the time to keep educating myself via the one serious book I’ve recently purchased. The reason I haven’t gotten back to it…is largely because I’m anxious about installing new programs on my machine. It’s always a risk, and usually a risk I don’t like to take. I do have ways of checking things; the entire process is just stressful.

craft, personal

Things to do that I almost forgot: Japanese language study, and coding.

I really didn’t do anything creative today, but I made the experience of living in this house a little more pleasant, at least for myself. I’m hoping to leave some notes here for the future, as to what I can do in the daytime which will be constructive, other than beading, hanging out on social media, and reading. When I get to a certain point where my focus has narrowed to an extreme, it becomes difficult to think of different things to do, or to change focus.

I did take some time out to clean my office and bedroom. I had forgotten how good it felt to have clean carpet underfoot! Wrapping up my hair was a good thing, because I did end up getting very dusty. I may have to wash my hair tomorrow, despite it; my scalp feels a little itchy, still. I might also have to wash my blankets; the drawback of not making the bed every day is that dust and germs can accumulate, there.

I was also able to let in some fresh air, which was much nicer than expected. The windows have been shut as it’s been so cold outside, but the coolness was nice today, because I was working so hard, the sun was out, and it was in the low 60°s F outside.

The little Umbrella plant still hasn’t been repotted, though it got some direct sun, today. :) (I’m not sure that’s a good thing.) I also have everything I need for it, so it’s just a matter of when I’m okay with getting soil and gravel on the table and floor. :)

After I had gotten a considerable amount of work done, I was able to return to the aspect of my life which is at least nominally work-related…that is, the books in my office. I have a good number of Japanese language learning books which I just haven’t gone back to (maybe because I keep getting discouraged from having to pull away from my studies?). I want to get back to learning this, particularly as it’s a transferable skill that I might need.

As well…hmm. I need to at least be reviewing my coding, if not learning new aspects of it. I did see today that I do have somewhere where I can load and run databases. I’m just not at all sure that I’m up to the task (meaning that I probably am, and that I know enough to have trepidation towards it).

Yes, it is weird that those are two language-related skills…

Anyhow…I’m not entirely certain what to do about my yarn projects. I have one which has been in my bedroom for months, although it’s still not finished (I saw the specter of running out of yarn, and got nervous), and I haven’t really worked on it since I brought it in. Then, I had started to work on teaching myself to knit (with wool), but at this point…I know it’s very expensive in terms of time, and I don’t know that it’s worth it.

If I did work with yarn and knitting…I have a strong desire to work one or more lace shawls or wraps and eventually gain the skill to incorporate beads into them. Cowls are also good; the thing is that if I end up in a warmer climate…they may not be anything I can use.

I have decided to keep a book (Knit and Crochet with Beads by Lily Chin, 2004) which shows different ways to integrate beads into knitting and crochet…because I don’t know when I’ll run across another like it. It’s actually quite a useful book, if you’re into that sort of thing…I just don’t know if, in the near future, I will have the luxury of enough free time to deal with something like this.

But maybe repetitive fine motor movements will be enough to soothe my anxiety…I believe I have memorized the pattern for the blanket in mid-process, sitting here next to me.

I just realized that embroidery and sewing seem to have slipped my mind altogether, but I should try not to forget them.

There’s more stuff going on, but it would be in my best interest not to get into it right now. I will say that it may be useful to do some reading on Informational Interviewing, or possibly in that introductory book I’ve been interested in and never read, because I didn’t foresee a career in the work of which it spoke. However…at this point I know I’m not socially inept; I could teach crochet or beading or knitting, if I knew what I was doing, and teaching helps bring people together…