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  • lostalgia

    for a good part of my life i’ve had trouble with the past, at least my own. it was uncomfortable to sit with, to remember, to make sense of. however, music has been the notable exception. even therein this feels fraught when i start to think about reunion shows and tours which continue to arise with an alarming frequency as bands and albums i grew up with push their 30th anniversaries (in some cases more). at varying points, i felt like these reunion shows were ridiculous. i didn’t full-on object from the standpoint that a band would be “cashing in” well after the fact. internally, though, i felt sheepish: was i trying to live in the past yet again? was i refusing to move on? such questions really prevented me from exploring these ways to reconnect to an earlier time and place. what tipped the scales, however, was the decision to see The Doobie Brothers about a year and a half ago.
  • a secret third thing

    this is neither a year in review post nor a resolutions post, but a secret third thing.

  • grief and rage makes us do funny things

    or at least makes us deal with abjection in new ways.

  • It's not really leaving if you have somewhere better to be

    2022 is proving to be a year of many profound changes. There are two big transitions going in my life: one professional, and one personal.

  • On finishing what you started

    In the best of times, “year in review”-style blog posts can be inspiring and provide an important sense of closure. When it’s not the best of times, they can be painful reminder of your own misgivings and missteps. Time has moved differently over the last two years, and the calendar itself no longer feels like a good marker of even the progression of days and months that have intervened. But here I am, wanting for the closure that such a review would provide. It feels dissatisfying not to remember that I have finished many things over the last 13 or 14 months, but the struggle to articulate them all has been incredibly real. While I may not touch on all of them, the goal is to describe some highlights to help me retain some perspective.

  • In Memoriam and Appreciation of Rob Casson (1974-2020)

    The world lost one of its brightest and most charming lights earlier this week, Rob Casson. Many of us knew Rob through the Code4Lib community and conferences and his work at Miami University Libraries. We miss his generosity, patience, sense of humor, and genuine kindness. Those of us who got the chance to socialize with him also remember his passion for music, and some of us were even lucky to see live shows in the evenings between conference sessions and other social activities.

    On Sunday, October 4 at 1:30 PM Pacific/4:30 PM Eastern, those of us who knew him through Code4Lib and the world of libraries are encouraged to gather to share our memories of him and to appreciate his life and work. Please join me and my co-organizers, Mike Giarlo and Declan Fleming on Zoom (registration required).

    Robert Casson (robcaSSon), 30 Jan 1974 - 29 Sep 2020.

    Robert Casson (robcaSSon), 30 Jan 1974 - 29 Sep 2020. Photo: Declan Fleming.

  • Besieged

    I have spent the last four and a half months feeling like everything is slipping from my grasp – personally, professionally, and in between. The torpor of life under a pandemic and a world wracked with pain has led me to feel like I am stuck in slowly-drying glue. Planning too far ahead seems nearly pointless. And yet, every day, we are asked to undertake haruspicy, to speculate about how our organizations and ourselves should respond to the remaining uncertainty, ideally with precision. The world keeps turning and we are asked to keep up, while taking care of family members, grieving our losses, or dealing with other challenges amplified by the present circumstances. At the same time, I feel myself slowing down, or at least to continue trying to slow down. I have not read anything more substantial than an article since February, despite getting a stack of books out of the library in preparation for more time at home. The cognitive load of mailing packages can sometimes be too much.
  • Sumer Is Icumen In

    I have spent the last several months in a fog. Emotions tend to get the better of me whenever faced with a barrier in my work life. It's gotten increasingly difficult for me to see the forest for the trees, no matter how much I tell myself that my work is for the greater good of my unit, my institution, and archivy. Self-doubt creeps in, as does stress, frustration, depression. Positivity begins to wane, with optimism replaced by apathy and sarcasm. You stop seeing the good in things and other people, and you stop being inspired. You desperately want to get away, pull the plug, clean the slate, or otherwise just put everything to a grinding halt. You stop asking "why can't I do that?" and start asking "why should I care?" instead. I don't think this is the first time I've faced burnout, and while it certainly won't be the last, the extent to which it's affected me this time around is astounding.
  • In Memoriam: Robert Frost, 1952-2011

    I am sad to announce the passing of Robert L. "Bob" Frost (1952-2011). Bob was an associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information, my alma mater, where he had taught since 2000. Bob had been battling cancer for over two years. Ed Vielmetti has written an obituary of Bob on his blog, including the announcement from SI Dean Jeffrey Mackie-Mason. Bob was an inspiration to many of us SI alums, and his magnetic personality, sharp wit, and joie de vivre ensured he had a bevy of his students and colleagues buzzing around him at any given time. I had the opportunity to take his class Material Culture and the Interpretation of Objects in the spring of 2004, my final semester at SI. The class was intense in a way that few of my other classes at Michigan were, and it provoked my continuing curiosity in identifying theoretical frameworks to analyze the everyday world. Bob reinforced my fascination with Wilhelm Reich and The Fugs by introducing me to Dušan Makavejev's W.
  • Onward And Upward...

    It's fitting that this the hundredth (gosh, only the hundredth?) post, because I have rather important news. First, my fellow developers/producers/UX designers at The New York Public Library and I have been dealing with every minute detail on the upcoming, Drupal-based replacement to the NYPL website. You can see a live preview at I can proudly say that this project has helped both me personally and NYPL overall play nice in the open source world - we've been actively contributing code, reporting bugs, and sending patches to the Drupal project. Also, our site search is based on Solr, which always bears mention. In addition, after a working tirelessly as a developer at NYPL for the last year and a half, I have decided to move onward and upward. I am leaving the cozy environs of the still-recently renovated office space I share with my spectacular coworkers. It was not an easy decision by far, but it feels like the best one overall.
  • This Is All I'm Going To Say On This Here Blogsite Concerning The Brouhaha About The Policy for Use and Transfer of WorldCat Records Because I Have Other, More Interesting And More Complex Problems To Solve (And So Do You)

    The moderated discussion hosted and sponsored by Nylink went pretty well. Also, I don't need the records to have fun with the data "” I just need robust APIs. (In fact, as I said today, I'd prefer not to have to deal with the MARC records directly.) Robust APIs would help making prototypes like this one I hacked together in a few hours into a real, usable service.
  • Everything Old is New Again

    Goodbye, WordPress - I've been drinking more of the KoolAid. I rebuilt my personal/professional site (not this blog) in Drupal. Migrating the content was pretty easy (about 15 static pages, no posts). The functionality is astounding - I only started working on redoing it yesterday and I've already got a great infrastructure. Expect a detailed post before too long, or at least a link to a colophon on said site.
  • Now, It Can Be Told

    After a little over two years processing, referencing, and cataloging, and hacking at AIP, I'm skipping up to the City That Never Sleeps to join Jay Datema, Josh Greenberg, and company in the NYPL Labs. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thrilled about this opportunity, and I'm ready to see where my new job will take me. The next major hurdle will be finding a place to live, so if you're privy to anything in Brooklyn, please let me know.
  • Sticking My Neck Out

    It's been some time since I've had a substantive post, and I don't really intend to write one now. I figured I should mention, however, that I've been featured lately in print and in the blogosphere. Jessamyn West of interviewed me for an article ("Saving Digital History") in Library Journal netConnect. In addition, I was tapped by the wonderful folks at Booktruck for the latest installment in their "Ask a Male Librarian" series. I swear someday soon I'll write something much more interesting and less self-promotional.
  • Five Non-Library Blogs I Read

    I won't bother waiting to be tagged to do this, because all the cool kids already are. I read too many blogs already, so here we go. Mary Eats is, as one would easily assume, a blog about food. Mary started the blog while she and her husband were living in Korea, and thus there's an overwhelming emphasis on Korean food and restaurants. She moved to Seattle relatively recently and began culinary school, too. My two favorite parts of this blog are when she makes videos and when she makes comics, like this one about konbu. Language Log is a blog written by linguistics faculty from around the world, wherein they tackle important and not-so-important issues like linguistic prescriptivism, 419 scammers, the Pirahà language, and cheese steak rolls served at Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia, all with a good sense of humor. Information Aesthetics covers all sorts of stuff related to information visualization. Essentially, it's just one massive blog full of data porn, from treemaps to Youtube videos using Isotype symbols.
  • Braindump

    I'm really behind on posting, and I apologize. There are a few action items that I should mention before I clear my brain to allow me to start posting things with actual content. ArchivesBlogs moved, but mail to was not working for a while. A few people mentioned this to me, but I didn't get this resolved until just last week. After who knows how many attempts trying to get something posted on Boing Boing, I finally made it when I had more information about the hottest chili peppers in the world. I now have a food blog, so if you're interested, check it out. It's called Feeding the Hungry Ghost. Now that that stuff is out of the way, I can start posting about "important" things again, like my trip to Georgia for code4lib 2007.
  • Report from SAA: Archival Solidarity and International Cooperation

    The Archival Solidarity Session was really great and generated a lot of dialog. It was originally organized by Nancy Marrelli of Concordia University (Montréal), but she couldn't make it on account of a family emergency. Trudy Huskamp Peterson led the discussion in her place and did a wonderful job. Essentially, Archival Solidarity is a project involving the ICA's Section of Professional Associations that concerns "international archival development" through bilateral projects. There are several major issues at play. First, existing methods of international development are not working for archival projects, either because of bureaucracy in general or archives being of lower priority in comparison to needs such as sanitation, adequate health care, and the like. We identified that one of the most critical aspects is the lack of communication or methods to share information. There is no central "hub," formal or informal, that allows archivists to share information about assistance needed or offered. The International Fund for Archival Development (FIDA), coordinated by the ICA, was supposed to serve as such, but apparently operational issues prevent it from working effectively.
  • Mid-November 2005 updates: Dalliance off the ground! Site changes galore! DC Not Bad!

    I've finally gotten around to doing some serious work on the site. I've completed the first post for my defunct blog, and it's about one of my favorite songwriters ever, Dr. Franklin Bruno. I've also figured out some of the odd intricacies of Drupal and am finally getting this site to have a look and feel of which I can be proud. I've settled in nicely to Washington, DC, and I'm living in a decent area of town within a reasonable interest of a decent watering hole, groceries, and the Metro. Halloween has come and gone; I dressed up as everyone's favorite St. Vitus dancer, Ian Curtis, complete with requisite noose. My friend Corey took similar cues as far as the era and scope of his costume, and chose to dress up as Henry Rollins. The weather has stayed mostly warm, so I've been spoiled on that front too. More changes are coming soon, so stay alert.
  • Off on my way: in transition to Washington, DC

    I'm pleased to announce that I will be joining the staff of the National Anthropological Archives and Human Studies Film Archives of the Smithsonian Institution's Department of Anthropology as a project archivist. I will have two initial primary responsibilities: cataloging Plains Indian ledger art for the non-profit ARTstor Project, and original cataloging and bibliographic enhancement of audio, film and video collections in support of the NAA's new Endangered Languages Program. This program also collaborates with the University of Utah's Center for American Indian Languages and is also part of the Documenting Endangered Languages project, supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. I will be starting work for the NAA/HSFA on September 6, 2005, and will be working on a 12 month term contract.