Tuesday, September 21, 2010

RE: Whiny and demanding; rude and arrogant; clueless and uninformed

Posting to NGC4LIB
Janet Hill wrote:
<snip>
You'd better include technical services folks (catalogers, metadata specialists, whatever you want to call them) in your collaborative group, since they are the ones who are most intimately acquainted with the content, various ways to manipulate it, what kinds of things it can do to display, and in some cases which things are impracticable (though possibly desirable), and which cool things might be possible (if only .....)
</snip>

At the risk of being too blunt and making myself the object of general derision, I think that at the level these people will be discussing, perhaps it would be best that if technical services people attend, they should only be there as observers, that is, to sit, watch, and listen. It seems obvious to me that what is needed now is *imagination* and this imagination should not be limited by what the technicians immediately consider to be impracticable. With the power of modern tools, which can bring in content from myriads of different sites and databases, not only from the traditional tools created by libraries, but including new cooperative tools created by non-librarians, often by true experts in the fields, e.g. musicologists, cartographers, publishers, agronomists, astronomers, physicists, and yes--even the public at large, while the importing itself can be done in a whole variety of ways--it will take a very long time of experimentation, trial and error, and so forth, to reach the point where anyone could truly declare a desirable function to be "impracticable".

Far more could be done with the tools that exist on the web right now--right this second, but what we need are both an exceptionally wide vision that goes far beyond the traditional tools, and genuinely fresh ideas (which abound all over the web). Our focus should be on building the tools people want and assume that nothing is impracticable until it is proven to be so. Even in those cases when it is determined to be impracticable to implement something completely, perhaps 80% could be achieved, or a new tool could appear tomorrow that would make it all possible.

After all, when the Ferrari Formula 1 racing team is figuring out what they need to do to win races, they do not want the mechanics saying, "Well, that just can't be done." It is the mechanics' job to try their utmost to implement what the drivers and engineers determine is needed, and that means a lot of highly innovative thinking on everyone's part.

Otherwise, they do not win races and they may as well all go home.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, you have totally mis-interperted the quote! "Technical services" librarians are NOT "technicians," they are professional information specialists and they have as much imagination as anyone else (I would suggest that many "technicians" and your analogous mechanics can be highly imaginative and contribute great ideas also, but that is off the point).
    Don't you see that "and which cool things might be possible (if only .....)" is saying that the technical services folks have dreams too, and those dreams aren't limited by today's practicalities?

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