Friday, March 6, 2015

a nice way of explaining rss

I was adding an rss feed to my aggregator (and will do a separate post about this), and was interested to see a link on the page for people who may not know what rss is. This was helpful, and even made me look (because I wanted to see where the link went).

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Inclusive reading, and inclusive readers advisory work.

Yesterday morning two very different kind of posts came through my Zite feed. One was headed 
No Boys Allowed: School visits as a woman writer. This is an excellent and depressing post by Shannon Hale. This is well worth reading as it has some very helpful points about readers advisory work and who/how you suggest titles and authors, and not being apologetic.

The other, I am not linking to, was called something like Key number of  [name of genre] books to read if you are a real [name of genre] fan.  Only books by men were included in this list.  The first post was about encouraging reading and encouraging a diversity in reading.  The other went down the unfortunate line of "real" fans which is problematic.  Each of us will read our own cluster of titles which have meaning to us, but whose grouping may leave others wondering.  That is good.  I can be a fan of the genre listed and not have read any of the titles suggested by this list.  I am troubled by the use of real in this context, perhaps I am an unreal fan of the genre as I have not read the entire list?  I can live with that.  It is not helpful to have lists (which is why I am being annoying and not linking to it) which say you can only be in the club for this genre if you have read/watched/played this exact set.  Where is the fun in that?  Where is the focus on the appeal characteristics for individual readers?   

I am sure that this list was meant to be encouraging, encouraging reading, encouraging a sense of accomplishment, encouraging a sense of belonging to a group.  

I was also concerned that the key titles were all written by men, that no woman was deemed good enough to write a key [genre name omitted] title.  There are many wonderful women and men who write in genre listed, so read across the spectrum, and enjoy.
Reading these two posts together highlighted the importance in readers advisory work of being deliberately inclusive so that people see and enjoy diversity in what they read.  
I realise that by writing this post that I am putting myself at risk of A Toxic Stew: Risks To Women Of Public Feminism, another post which came through Zite yesterday.  So be it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

My review of How Google works

How Google WorksHow Google Works by Eric Schmidt
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have to start this review with a few obvious statements. This book is written by senior staff at Google. Google, like any company, has issues. Keeping all that in mind, this is still a very interesting book. It is about how to inspire ideas, encourage creative solutions, but mostly it is about letting people do their work - being inspired to problem solve, and making sure people do problem solve. There are several examples of how problems were posted on a wall, and people chose to solve them. Very quickly. They weren't asked to solve them, and they may not even have been in their area.

It is also about failure, and Google can fail impressively (like when they stopped Google reader, one of my favourite tools, but for them it was a failure). To quote from the book (location 3384) "To innovate, you must learn to fail well. Learn from your mistakes: Any failed project should yeild valuable technical, user, and market insights that can help inform the next effort Morph ideas, don't kill them...And don't stigmatize the team that failed: Make sure they land good internal jobs. The next innovators will be watching to see if the failed team is punished. Their failure shouldn't be celebrated, but it is a badge of honor of sorts". I like this because it acknowledges, rather than hides or disguised failure.

Also a quote about office design (locations 611, 613) "Offices should be designed to maximise energy and interactions, not for isolation and status...The traditional office layout, with individual cubicles and offices, is designed so that the steady state is quiet..most interactions planned..This is exactly backwards, the steady state should be highly interactive...brimming with hectic energy...Employees should always have the option to retire to a quiet place when they've had it with all the group stimulation, which is why our offices include plenty of retreats".

It also highlights the challenges of working in a meritocracy, and how people have to challenge the ideas to make sure they are the best. I learned a new term - hippo - highest paid person's opinion, and at Google they try and avoid the hippo approach, hence working at being a meritocracy.

This is an entertaining and interesting book to read, and it will give you some ideas which you can use in your work place.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

My review of Strange material

Strange Material: Storytelling Through TextilesStrange Material: Storytelling Through Textiles by Leanne Prain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I took a really long time to read this book, not because I was not enjoying, but because I did not want to finish it. This is the first book I have read by Leanne Prain, and will be reading her others.

This book is a wonderful look at how fabric artists tell stories, some explicit, and some implicit. All through this I kept thinking about the value of these ideas, and how they could be used to create some wonderful local studies content. There are some patterns, prompts and lots of inspiration. There is the idea of using a sometimes overlooked method, textile work, for telling neglected stories. This can be seen as helping to highlight, record and share marginalised culture and experience, it can also be seen as be seen as very inclusive because we all have connections with textiles.

Many artists are interviewed, sharing their motivation and ideas. This is a wonderful combination with illustrations of their work. Some works are comforting, and others are disturbing. Some done by individuals, other collaborations. Many of the prompts would be great for recording oral histories as well as prompts for community art works telling local stories for public library local studies collections. A wonderful read which is also a call to action. It is likely to appeal to people who read for stories.

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