Thursday, May 25, 2006

comics 5

Further notes on comics (and games):

* My wife did go back to that comics shop with me. They have a really big, cool collection of all kinds of games -- she wanted something to play in the pub that afternoon. It was a a calm, quiet, Friday afternoon. Just a couple of other people in the shop (one was female, by the way) drifting through the back issues and the pewter minatures. The manager with the funny hat was still in a funny hat, but he stayed well out of our way. My wife picked "EcoFluxx", which turned out to be a fun one, and we went haunted haunting the pub for a while, playing, then went and haunted our Bubble Tea joint for a while, playing. On the way out of the shop she said, "Well, that was much better."

* I'm watching the old Superman movies again at home (I didn't realize that I was doing it in preparation for the new movie due out soon, but I am!). My wife noted how excited she gets, watching them. Me too. I remember how cool they were when I was a boy -- and, be damned!, they're still cool. The new movie has a lot of work to do if it's going to compare. Superman 1 really set the Kryptonian aesthetics perfectly -- the complex, jagged, crystalline structure of everything (that would later get folded into a robust, knotty, almost-tangled look under John Byrne's pencils in the comics) ...there was a kind of "smart stuff" or early "everyware" aspect to the way [Kryptonian] things looked in both the movie and with Byrne's take. It highlights their technological acheivements, and that heightens the tragedy of their doom. Awesome.

* Back to games for a minute. Comics and games seem to go together, somehow. What is it about them? In gaming you can become like the characters you read about in comics (of any genre). Games are a way to "do something" about unsolvable problems, too, in a way. More important than that, in my mind, is the transformative and "magickal" power of gaming -- to look squarely at a usually-hidden aspect of yourself in the context of a cooperative fictional environment and make that "self" do whatever you Will within the bounds of the agreed upon rules. I don't think magick is a big or important part of gaming culture, however... and maybe it's more effective as magick if the magick remains mostly hidden. Anyway.

* Games aren't gender-divvied, are they? Seems like I see throngs of both girls and boys playing the Yu Gi Oh or the Pokemon in the bookstores on the weekends. And everybody loves Scrabble and Monopoly and Poker, right? What about table-top RPGs? Still the domain of men? It's just interesting to me that games drew my wife back to a comic shop she swore off of. Looking for a game -- a cool game, not just Connect Four or something, but an unusual, under-the-radar, bottom-shelf, small press, game. She was looking for something obscure, see, and the best place to browse for off-beat games? You know. The comics shop. Now how does this play in the the bigger conversation about comics shops? Will games be (or are they already, or have they already been) a factor in getting more women into comics shops? And if they come seeking games, why not just go to a "game shop"? Comics and games seem to go together, somehow.

* For librarians... I again must stress the importance of collecting and promoting this stuff. Gaming books and graphic novels are hot, hot, hot, and it's not a passing fad. This has had and will continue to have staying-power. Design your programs (for any age groups) around these materials and watch a loyal community grow up around you. Go read PopGoesTheLibrary -- they know what's up. And, by the way, this isn't any kind of acquiescence to "low brow" media. Comics are full of advanced vocabulary and complex plots. Comics and games are good for kids (and grownups). You know that, don't you?


Weather: Finally cloudy.
Shushing: My insurance company.

obit: Ian Copeland of IRS Records

Here's an obituary for Ian Copeland from Surviving The Golden Age:

"Today is a sad day for many in the London and Georgia music scene. IRS co-founder and Georgian concert promoter, Ian Copeland has passed away from Melanoma at the age of 57. Ian is accredited with launching the careers of bands such as the Police, R.E.M., the B-52s, and Squeeze.

Ian's brother Miles Copeland founded IRS records and enlisted Ian to bring Squeeze to the states. Ian made Squeeze a hit in the states by booking them a long tour schedule of smaller night clubs. Ian later brought his younger brother's band, The Police to the states. Ian created what is now referred to as the "club circuit".

Later Ian started Frontier Booking International (F.B.I.) which booked for bands like R.E.M., The Bangles, Adam Ant, Nine Inch Nails, and the Dead Kennedys..."


At the post, there's a live R.E.M. set from 1982 in .mp3 files.


Listening: 1,000,000

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

info viz 4

A couple of info viz notes:

See a map of Amazon's books:

Weird. Fun.


Text represented as "binary signs" for the spaces you move around in:

This one puts me in mind of Semacode again, and makes me wonder about the possibilites of using ambient machine-readable markers in our spaces to link our machines with information. Kind of like a "magic eye" for computers that whisks the patron away to rich info resources.


Both found via

mls, mlis, certification

|UPDATE, Sep 07|

My thinking on this continues to evolve. What I wrote below was in part motivated by long years of observing dedicated library employees with very professional attitudes and great knowledge of sources and technique being treated sub-professionally. But the degree itself needs to be worth something and it should mean something -- it should be a qualifier without disqualifying those who work hard without it.


The graduate "library science" or "information and library science" degree is a funny thing. I worked in libraries for almost 10 years before I got the MLIS, and I think my experience taught me far more about how libraries should operate than the degree did.

The degree is a kind of initiation into "professionalism", and for all the great instruction (and independent research and practicums -- and I mean in no way to deny the value of what gets taught), the culture of the title "librarian" seems often to be more important than the practice to too many of my peers, these days.

The degree, too, is a period of intense thinking about and writing about libraries -- and that was utterly useful to me. It changed my life. But it's not the only way to go.

See, I hate this word "paraprofessional". It's demeaning. It means something to the effect of "on the side of" or "with" in the old Greek. The non-degreed librarians that I know (and have known) daily take the lead on matters of policy and customer service, and in the operational smoothness of our libraries -- while the "professionals" are in the background shaking hands with deans or city council members, brainstorming on programs, ordering books and doing other (very essential but usually less immediate) work. In reality, it's librarians who are alongside them, and not the other way round.

I think there should be a certification program for librarians, to grant "librarianship" after a period of practical experience, a few short (short!) courses, and test of some kind. A full-on "postgraduate degree" isn't necessary, especially when you consider the fact that this really is a sort of professional (as in more-professional-than-academic, as in more focused on the career or the profession of librarianship than it is on advancing the general body of knowledge related to information science... c'mon) and beuracratic hurtle. The degree is in most cases just a gate guard for administrators.

Librarians and libraries shouldn't be about that. 15 years of practical know-how should be worth far more than 4 semesters of online classes, a couple of field trips, and a piece of parchment. "Librarianship" shouldn't be so zealously guarded by the bean-counters when there are so many bright and able people who deserve advancement and would be considerable boons to our libraries. Some kind of certification program would solve these problems and get more people in the gate.

This "librarian" thing isn't a Sunday garden club, you know. Let's look at our assets -- at our dedicated "paraprofessionals", and let's train them up and certify them and put them where so many of them belong -- in leadership roles. Librarians could stand a bit of a de-high-horsing, and "paraprofessionals" could really stand to be looked at anew for what they are: professional.


Watching: Emmanuel's Gift
Listening: Squarepusher: Big Loada
Surfing: UFO crash: Aurora, TX, 1897

Monday, May 22, 2006

"The Australian Federal Government may ban the sale of "hate books" and outlaw the glorification of terrorism. Islamic books that support violent jihad can be sold because sedition and incitement laws do not specifically ban them, according to legal advice to the Australian Federal Police.

Well this does go some way toward the concerns expressed in an earlier post. And this post (link), which deals with banned books in the U.K.

I really feel that this is coming our way, folks... It won't be long before the U.S. follows suit and starts outlawing books. Or, to be more accurate, outlaws the manifestation of ideas that are deemed dangerous to the state, whether in book form or whether spoken aloud in lectures.