This started out (about 23 April 2005) as an effort to construct a non-academic CV, and gradually grew other appendages. Now it seems to be becoming a gatheration of thoughts about what-next, both personal and systemic. It's almost blogfodder, but still too heterogenous to feel comfortable in that medium.
After a couple of days I sent it (as it then was) to Ron Nigh, saying:
Hiya,Thinking about a different sort of vita, and what I want it to convey.
Been doing a lot of editing of links in my Web space, and thinking about What It All Means. This in the context of an interesting idea from John: he thinks I should go to work for Yahoo. I'm thinking about it, quite seriously, and would like to get your assistance/connivance in thinking about what I might suggest that I could do. So I started writing... and as usual it's a mix of stuff, alive with digressions, and connecting to other stuff I've written/am writing in the same medium. All in process. But as a recipient of my incessant curiosities about cyberstuff, whaddya think? What IS it that I do in this realm anyway?
My long-run interests center on the practical uses of technologies. I'm less interested in the devices and products themselves than in HOW people use digital tools to manage and construct their evolving Information universes, how individual and collaborative and collective learning develops in contexts of enhanced communication, and how digital affordances change human interaction.
Chronology of Web activities: http://home.wlu.edu/~blackmerh/weblegacy.html
- Anthropologist (AB Harvard 1965, MA and PhD Stanford 1972, 1976. Dissertation research on agricultural transformation in Nova Scotia. Professor of Anthropology at Acadia University 1973-1990)
- Librarian (MSLIS Simmons 1992, Reference Librarian 1992-1996 and Science Librarian 1996-2005 at Washington & Lee University. Supported the information requirements of 50 faculty and 350 majors in the sciences. Retiring September 2005)
- Teacher (at Washington & Lee, taught interdisciplinary courses including Human Geography, Cross-Cultural Studies in Music, Anthropology of East Asia, History of Technology, Digital Libraries, History and Prospects of Humanity Computing, Information Visualization)
- Student of the evolution of information technologies (built Washington & Lee's first Web presence, supported Geographic Informmation Systems development and used GIS in teaching, supervised design and prototyping of a personal information management environment, consulted in digital library development, conducted experiments with pedagogical applications of blogging and podcasting)
Current Work tracks Web-based projects: http://home.wlu.edu/~blackmerh/current.html
Log files: http://home.wlu.edu/~blackmerh/meta/logfiles.html
Several times a week I encounter postings that change my understanding of possibilities and wherebys. Some of them I pass along to others, but I'd really like to be more closely linked into conversations and information streams about emergent facets of digital space. That's what working with Yahoo would do: connect me to conversations that will result in something, or anyway more than solitary maunderings. So what do I have to offer those conversations? I know quite a bit about the worlds of academia, and I'm especially interested in the means to get more people to do more creative things with their own information streams... I don't feel that I have the requisite knowledge, and I'm forever finding people who are much more eloquent and informed than I am.
Who would have predicted that journalism would be so quickly and deeply affected by "amateur publishing tools" combined with syndication? http://www.timporter.com/firstdraft/ is exemplary, and it's a bellwether. Other domains --including libraries and education generally-- may soon feel the same petty fundamental tremors. I saw a report of a meeting of journalist honchos (was it ASNE? yes: "One of the most telling moments of the hour occurred just as the meeting opened when Nachison and Peskin put a slide up of Craig Newmark and asked how many people in the room of several hundred recognized him or his name. Only a smattering of hands rose. A few more hands went up at the mention of Craigslist and its free classifieds.", sez Porter 13/iv) who were asked how many had heard of Craig Newmark. Only a few hands... though a few more had heard of 'Craig's List'. Similar ostrich/knownothing behavior is easy to find in lib and ed.
Porter: "Merrill Brown, former editor of MSNBC.com and author of the report, Abandoning the News: 'The axiom about young people returning to newspapers no longer seems provable by data' so 'we need to be in the business of product development.' Concentrate on creating target products that take multiple flows of information and “parse them in ways that makes sense for people” that go beyond geography. “..." ...and I'd say the same thing about lib/ed.
A [and maybe it's THE...] really big question: How do you find the stuff YOU need, at the level YOU need, in the world Brewster Kahle foretells?
Tim O'Reilly mentions "computer as pass-through, not end point" (other bits: on Open Source [2 minutes] and on Network Effects [5 minutes])
When the Web was beginning, the emphasis was on putting resources onto menus, so that people would find them and remember the paths. But it's much more effective to put resources into people's hands --e.g., the Dictionary of Algorithms and Data Structures from NIST: putting it onto a menu (like Comp Sci Resources) that nobody uses for anything isn't effective. What WOULD be? Does the Dictionary have an API (probably not --the entries are all in /HTML/ directory)
I need to explore ourmedia.org more fully... and talk with Daniel about putting our stuff there.
Stuff I've Seen:Personal Information Management: Helping Finders Become Keepers (Susan Dumais, Microsoft Research)
I'd like to work on a team of people who collaborate to explore the emergent properties of social software by talking with people who are doing especially creative things with the teaching-and-learning side of the Web's evolution, by tracking innovative uses of the blogosphere, and by collaborating with engineers to build and test prototypes of personal information management utilities.
As somebody (Telepocalypse: Martin Geddes) says of Skype, "It is successful because it solves the user’s problem." (http://www.telepocalypse.net/archives/000667.html) And that's just what needs to be discovered and kept in the crosshairs: what IS the user's problem?
"...the term 'social networking' makes little sense if we leave out the objects that mediate the ties between people. Think about the object as the reason why people affiliate with each specific other and not just anyone. For instance, if the object is a job, it will connect me to one set of people whereas a date will link me to a radically different group. This is common sense but unfortunately it's not included in the image of the network diagram that most people imagine when they hear the term 'social network.' The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They're not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object." (Jyri Engeström http://www.zengestrom.com/blog/2005/04/why_some_social.html)
Space and connectivity: Plazes http://beta.plazes.com/ "the first global location-aware interaction and geo-information system, connecting you with the people and Plazes in your area and all over the world. It is the navigation system for your social life and it's absolutely free."
It's interesting to note how my bloglife proceeds, by digressions and serendipities: I add feeds that look like they'll bring me into conversations I think I'm interested in, and of course those interests move around over time. Looking into any realm means MORE looking... and probably implies that other interests slide (some to the point of disconnecting by deleting the blog in question --e.g., I finally got tired of Warren Ellis). Some of the trail is in my Bloglines blog, and some is in various things I've written: log files, email, etc.