Hello! So many things to talk about, as it has been a very busy week and then some. Soon, a post about Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Book Festival, which I arrived back from on Wednesday. Later, posts about LonCon3! Five full days of World Science Fiction Convention awesomeness. But first, what I did the previous weekend, because Saturday, I attended Pi and Mash, which was super fun and interesting and deserves a post before getting lost in all the other excitement.
They describe it better than I was going to: “Pi and Mash is a Mashed Library unconference day of workshops and conversation for people interested in doing fun stuff involving libraries and technology.”
All of the fun stuff, oh yes. Including a 3D printer!
Yeah, that’s right. These adorable yet fearsome plastic figures took shape before our very eyes thanks to a 3D printer. Cuddle Cthulhu will be taking donations to finance the use of them for his eventual world domination.
The first session that I went to was a very small group discussing community-driven libraries, usually maintained by people who were facing local library closures as a result of public sector cuts, and really didn’t want to lose their library. I didn’t contribute much to the discussion, admittedly, because I felt like I really didn’t know anything about it, but it was quite interesting to listen. I was especially intrigued by the idea of using community libraries as an access point to community knowledge. Rather than traditional, intellectual knowledge – which is really a privileged thing – perhaps the point of that kind of library is also to know who in the community might have the answer to the question, instead of asking Google. There was also a lot of talk about these libraries as maker spaces, being areas of production and not just “access”, and people leaving instructions or reflections about things they’ve created for others in the community to benefit from. This would build a library of non-traditional, but community-driven information. I think fostering that kind of close-knit, human aspect is really important.
Someone else mentioned a “moral duty” to teach people how to code. I’ll be honest: this made me feel incredibly tense. On the one hand, I see where they’re coming from. In a world where tech and coding are increasingly important, prevalent, and respected skills, having the ability to code definitely increases agency and helps keep people from being shut out (especially people who are traditionally excluded groups, like the poor and minorities). BUT (as I said in my earlier post on tech) we also have an obligation to foster the human side, to not blindly jump in because everyone is doing it, to make sure community and human interaction comes before tech.
It definitely got me thinking.
I met a lot of cool people, and had a wonderful day learning things and showing off Cuddle Cthulhu. Also, #citylis’s own Sarah Stewart led a really interesting session on usability testing and UI at the Natural History Museum, which is part of her dissertation work. It was really interesting, and something I’d like to learn more about. Especially in terms of how we can make flexible discoverability systems that work for a wide range of different search styles.
Yes, definitely a good day, and a fantastic way to kick off the next week of crazy awesomeness.
Here, we see Cuddle Cthulhu support Open Access Button, which is mapping paywalls and access to research. I recommend checking it out. Probably not for the same reason that he does.
You are lovely. Stay tuned for more soon! ❤