Walt's blog

The 55-page CV

In my "this isn't a weblog" tradition of truly random-but-interesting postings, here's one.

There's a weblog with a daily "new and improbable research" posting, courtesy of the Annals of Improbable Research, the "science humor" magazine that administers the Ig Nobel awards and is a successor to the late, lamented Journal of Irreproducible Results. (The site, Hot AIR, also lets you subscribe to the pure-text monthly mini-AIR, if you're so inclined.)

If you've heard of the Luxuriant Flowing Hair Club for Scientists(TM), that's an ongoing AIR project.

Anyway ("Get on with it!"), one recent entry was about a psychologist (I believe) who has a 55-page curriculum vitae. The sheer length of the CV was repeated: 55 pages!

So, being in a silly mood, I clicked on the link and browsed through the CV. It's not every scientist who lists "Most productive X, 1990-1994" as one of their honors--or maybe it is. Nor, I suspect, do all prolific academics include separate lists of all the journals they've published in, with symbols denoting high-impact journals...

What I noticed right off the bat was that this academic provides each bibliographic citation in full form, repeating their name in each case, in fairly large type, and with plenty of white space before each citation--in a nice, single-column format with good wide margins.

Which is great--particularly if you are prolific (which this academic certainly is!) and want to make a point of just how prolific you are, based on the weight of your CV.

It also suggested to me that, in the unlikely event that I was ever going to go for an academic career (which, given my grand total of one BA and no higher degrees, even if the BA is from the world's second best university, seems like a pretty absurd goal), I've been doing it exactly the wrong way.

Which is to say that, if someone really wants to review my CV, I want to conserve paper--and the current version is 17 pages long. I get there by:

  • Using a two-column format for speeches and publications
  • Using small type for speeches and publications
  • Only including author information for multi-author publications
  • Leaving no vertical space at all before citations, using a hanging-indent style to separate them
  • For multiple publications within a single periodical in a single year, stacking the citations to minimize redundant information.
  • Leaving out all "internal" work, even if it results in generally-available publications (that is, I don't include any articles for RLG Focus and the like, much less internal committee reports). (Confession: That's more because I've never kept records, particularly from UC days, tnan it is nonexistent modesty.)

How long would this CV be if I adopted this prolific academic's conventions? I have no intention of trying--that would be work--but I'd guess at least 34 pages. No additional info, but a lot of additional paper.

On the other hand, I could do a properly academic CV, listing only book chapters, scholarly monographs, and refereed papers. That would be real short! (I think there have been three refereed papers, certainly no scholarly monographs, and no chapters in what I'd consider to be scholarly monographs.) Two pages would probably do nicely. I'm persistent; I'm not scholarly.

Now, as to a resume: I have no idea how to prepare an appropriate one. If I ever go job hunting, I'll have to beg for help.

Midwinter musings

This isn't my informal notes on sessions during the ALA Midwinter Meeting. (As soon as I finish this, I start writing those for internal use; if there's enough that I think are worth spreading further, I'll include them in a forthcoming C&I.)

Instead, it's a substitute for the Bibs & Blather about the weather and overall situation I did after Philadelphia--since I don't plan to do such a whine this time around.

First, the weather. Cold by my wimpy California-native standards: Certainly. How could it not be? Too cold, as it was the last day I was in Philly: No. The only time it got down to the teens was the day I was leaving, and at 4 a.m. I was too numb to feel it on the short walk to a cab.

That's partly because you could get to and from most meeting-heavy hotels and the conference center without going outside. I was at the Sheraton (good room, great bed, the less said about the restaurant the better, lounge prices as ludicrously high as I expected--somehow, paying the price of a bottle for a glass still bothers me just a little); you couldn't get closer to Hynes without camping out in Prudential Center, but the Westin and Marriott were also accessible in shirt sleeves if you were so inclined.

It's also partly because it just didn't get quite as cold and windy on most days. I found myself forgetting a cap and sometimes not bothering to put on gloves and scarf. That included some 4-6 block walks--and I didn't do any 3-mile hikes. As with Juneau in March (during AkLA in 2003), this was tolerable. (The jetways when changing planes in Chicago may have been the coldest part.)

I hear it was one of the better-attended Midwinters in recent years (13,000?), and that sounds about right. Our booth staff say it was active; it felt busy but not overwhelmingly crowded; most sessions I attended had more people than I would have expected.

It was also one of the most interesting Midwinters I've been to in years--and I went to more non-LITA discussions than usual. (I'm not suggesting a connection; I don't think there is one.) I believe that any attempt to curtail focused discussions further than the current "no programs except ALA-wide sponsored events" would be a serious mistake; there was a lot of vitality at this session in addition to 2500+ committee meetings, and I believe that's good for the field.

Finally, for now, a couple of words about socializing and introverts like me. I've learned not to reception-hop (it's hard on the system); this time I went to one reception where I knew I'd be at home on Saturday (ALA Publishing), one on Sunday (YBP Library Services), and that was it--but I also spent way more time than I'd planned with the PLA Bloggers. The reason that 1 hour turned into 3 was simple: They're really interesting people, most of whom I'd never met before. It was worth the effort to come out of my shell; keeping up with, being informed by, and enjoying the company of yet another younger generation was a big part of what made Midwinter great. [No, Steven C., I'm not going to use the o-word. Y'all made me feel welcome and younger.]

ALA Midwinter: It's a meeting, not a conference

Just a reminder for those who're about to head off to Boston (or who already have), and particularly for those new to the field and hoping for "more information on the programs at ALA."

With one exception--the ALA President's Program--there are no formal programs as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting. Note that final word: By ALA policy, Midwinter is a business meeting, not a conference.

Sure, there are loads of educational opportunities, in addition to exhibits and a couple of thousand committee meetings: Dozens (hundreds?) of discussion groups (or, within LITA, interest groups); various sessions held by affiliated and unaffiliated organizations (e.g., NISO's standards briefings, OCLC's lunch, RLG's various information sessions...); various other presentations arranged by ALA offices; etc., etc..

But formal programs with set speakers and full descriptions in the official program? Not allowed--again, except for the ALA President.

I would note that, IIRC, one candidate is pushing to make Midwinter even more of a "pure business" meeting, pledging to not hold a President's Program at Midwinter and to try to forbid interest groups and discussion groups from holding themed discussions. If I do recall correctly, it's fair to say that this candidate won't be getting my vote. I think that goes way too far. (I may have misunderstood some stuff that was going on, and this may have nothing to do with any ALA candidate, so I'm not naming names.)

For some of us, Midwinter is a more valuable meeting than Annual, but it's valuable for different reasons. Trying to shut it down or make it nothing but a bunch of commitee meetings would be a really bad idea, IMNSHO, as well as being a significant financial hit for the organization.

Nonetheless, if your primary interest is formal, organized programs where you know the speakers and topics in advance, then--other than the extra-cost preconferences and workshops--Midwinter isn't the place to be.

Cites & Insights 5:2 (Midwinter) available

Cites & Insights 5.2, Midwinter 2005, is now available for downloading.

This 22-page issue (PDF as always), with a fresh new look (dating back to 1919), includes:

Frank Kelly Freas, RIP

Noting the story on Will Eisner's passing, I'll mention another passing in the past couple of days that seems to have drawn a lot less attention:
Frank Kelly Freas, one of the great science fiction illustrators.

Program/conference reporters invited!

Here's the posting I just sent to four lists, and will also be suggesting as a story--but here, it has HTML!

Cites & Insights: Crawford at Large, a free web-based journal of libraries, policy, technology and media, is now accepting and inviting program and conference reports in areas appropriate for C&I's readership.

It's a chance to be published in a widely-read venue, with as little editing as possible, with a byline--and in a timely fashion (aiming for 2 to 6 weeks between receipt of reports and publication).

Random thoughts at the end of a subrandom year

Subrandom? Well, heck, if you thought this was a great year, more power to ya! (And throw a chunk of that greatness at Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross International Response Fund, or something of the kind!)

Minor thoughts and discoveries on a slow morning, the day after polishing off a big time-sensitive "own time" project...

  • I was going to chime in on the "countdown" (you know, ten random things about me and so on) thread on AshtabulaGuy's journal--and discovered that I couldn't do it. The travel part would be easy (or not: the Marquesas islands, the fjords of Norway, the fjords of New Zealand, the Shetland Islands, the wonderful Bardo museum outside Tunis, the nature preserves of Costa Rica, Venice, Bora Bora, Morocco...hmm, it's hard to come up with the right nine. I don't particularly consider myself well-traveled, but when my wife and I say "we've been seeing the world by cruise ship," we do mean seeing the world, not the Caribbean).
    But some of the others are just too close to home for a tired old shy type like me. And, since I've managed to get this far by not having specific goals and plans, the list of "things I want to do before I die" might be tricky. So it goes.
  • I am reminded frequently just how lucky we are to live where we do. Sure, the housing's expensive. But when I'm tempted to complain about a rainy day or the temperature dropping to the low 50s at the end of December; when we revel in the quality of ingredients and cooking in even the most modest restaurants in town (e.g., the sports bar down the road we go to for $2 bowls of freshly-made soup and $4 to $6 specials); when we look at general social attitudes...well, this area looks better and better as an eventual retirement location, if we can't swing Hawaii.
  • In another dire warning about how badly U.S. people do in savings, I'm reminded again that those are trick figures: Did you know that mutual funds and other market investments (including, I believe, bond funds) don't count as savings? Not that we couldn't do a lot better, but...
  • It's odd to find myself an "independent" in so many policy/library issues, e.g. open access, the "information commons," ebooks (yes, I am an independent, even if some jackasses choose "Luddite" or "Darth Vader" as a preferable term), and others. Maybe I'm proud that I'm becoming more aware of subtleties and distinctions as I get older--or maybe I'm just inherently wishy-washy. I do know this: The more I know about a policy issue, the less likely I am to take a black-and-white view of it.
  • While my list of people I just can't deal with has shrunk (down to 2!), the revelation that some people just aren't worth the time to argue/discuss with has been an enormously liberating one. And for those who put me in that category, you're certainly entitled.
  • Re LISnews and "library news" sources: Yes, I check LISnews. I rarely contribute (other than my own stuff). Maybe that's because "library news" as such doesn't usually interest me very much. What interests me are the range of developments that affect libraries, and those either don't fall into the "news" category or are somewhat outside the traditional library press. And, of course, I believe that the "added value" in Cites & Insights is that I'm synthesizing stuff, much of which is outside the traditional library literature, and trying to suggest connections to library issues.
  • Regarding the one "controversial" stance I took in C&I this year: I'm a little sad that it apparently drove away one long-time reader. I'm not at all sorry I took the stance, and I stand behind every word in the piece. Reading about the testimony of those on one side of the current court case pushes me further in that direction, if anything.

And that's enough for this last day of the year. Stay off the roads tonight (whether you're drinking or not!), stay warm, and may your next year be better than this one was--no matter how good this one was for you.

Cites & Insights 5.1 available

Here's the formal announcement:

Cites & Insights 5.1 (January 2005), sponsored by YBP Library Services,
is now available for downloading.

The 22-page issue (PDF as always) includes:

C&I--and movies, movies, movies

First, for those of you not subscribed to C&I Updates: Cites & Insights 5:1, January 2005, is now available for downloading. Because of the exigencies of this tween-holiday week, I won't submit a "story" until tomorrow, and list postings won't go out until January 3--but it's there. Strong on scholarly access, some stuff on copyright, a whole bunch of self-indulgent retrospective nonsense--and a note about the new sponsorship, from YBP Library Services.

Movies, movies, movies? I've written elsewhere (in C&I) about the Family Classics 50 Movie Megapack I acquired to keep me going on my treadmill, once the 40 free movies I'd gotten from a now-dead DVD magazine were done.

Treeline Films, maker of that Megapack, has apparently developed a production system that allows them to produce boxes with 12 double-sided, double-layer DVDs, each in a cardboard sleeve containing summaries of the four or five movies on the DVD, at a price that means they can sell for $24.95 to $34.99 and be profitable for Treeline and the Internet stores that sell them. (They might turn up in retail stores as well; I got the first one for $19.95 as a RiteAid holiday special, but have never seen any since in local stores.)

The movies are all either public domain or available with no (or nominal) license fees. There are no extras. You get four scenes per movie, that may or may not be logically arranged; basically, movies are split into quarters by time.

Print quality ranges from barely watchable to excellent. On some older movies, frames are missing and some of the soundtrack is garbled, but I have yet to see a movie that was truly unwatchable because of print damage. I just finished watching Danny Kaye's The Inspector General, a gem of a film that was also a nearly-perfect print.

I mention these sets here because Treeline continues to bring them out, and I think they're a remarkable bargain for people interested in older cinema--and maybe for libraries. I see nothing preventing a library from treating each cardboard sleeve/DVD as a separate circulating item. The movies are in at least as good shape as the old public domain $5-$10 videocassettes from oddball companies--and you're getting 50 movies for $25 to $35.

I see 13 boxes so far, including genre boxes for Horror, Mystery, SciFi, War, Comedy, Western, Family, Action, as well as "Hollywood Legends" (all feature films, all with major stars) and "All Stars," a collection of star-heavy TV movies. The final three packs include one with 150 serial episodes (a dozen old serials), one with 100 cartoons, and one with 100 TV episodes.

I would expect more to come. I picked up the SciFi (yes, some of the movies aren't really SciFi, and most of the movies are B to D films), All Stars (a great bunch of TV movies!), and Hollywood Legends (a remarkable set of films for the price) boxes. The mystery (heavy on Sherlock Holmes and others) and some others also look interesting.

You can find them at Overstock for $24.95 plus $1.50 shipping, at Amazon for $34.95, and at DVD MegaPacks and BN.com for $28 to $30. I've found Overstock reliable so far; that's where I've purchased all but the first.

Obviously, I can't vouch for the video quality of those I haven't seen. Some that I have--an early "Scarlet Letter," for example--were badly damaged. Some others have been nearly perfect.

My own calculus: If I see seven movies that I'd be willing to buy as cheapo singles (say for $5), then I'm automatically ahead of the game. I've already seen seven that qualify in the "Family Classics" box, and I'm only on the fifth of twelve DVDs. Your mileage may vary, as always.

By the way, since most or all of these are in the public domain, they should also be usable for public screening.

I've never been to Albany, Georgia

Say what?

Well, I was doing a bit of focused egosearching (on AllTheWeb, looking for "Cites & Insights", excluding boisestate.edu, and limiting it to "this year," not that date limits do much of anything for websites).

Still too many to look through, but somewhere in the first hundred I hit a publication called Cites & Insights--yes, with the ampersand.

It's a church bulletin from Hines Memorial Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Albany, Georgia.

Orkut reloaded (and unmarked)

Back a ways, I noted the bizarre total number within my circle in Orkut--more than two million at the time--and that the number did not decrease significantly when I cut my number of "friends" from 21 down to 12.

One who shall go unnamed (why cause him grief?) sent email with an interesting suggestion: The number being reported is roughly the total size of Orkut, and has nothing to do with your own "six degrees of separation."

Not dead or gone just yet

Where's Walt?

On vacation since November 18--and to me, part of being on vacation is ignoring as much technology as possible. We got back Monday; yesterday was entirely consumed in catching up with email and related work issues--I didn't even log on to the Internet except to check one fact.

We visited the Marquesas islands, for those who care: One of the five archipelagos that make up French Polynesia, with islands such as Fatu Hiva and Nuku Hiva. The cruise (14 days) departed from Papeete in Tahiti (departing is always the best thing to do in Papeete!), and visited five spots on four Marquesan islands, along with Rangiroa in the Tuamotu archipelago and some of "the usual suspects" in the Society Islands--Bora Bora, Moorea, Tahaa, and Tahiti, but not Raratea. (Unfortunately, Bora Bora, which may be one of the most beautiful places on earth, was overcast and raining. Otherwise, the weather was generally good.)

I'm not doing a travelogue, at least not here, not yet. Just noting that lack of entries (and lack of comments on postings!) doesn't necessarily indicate lack of interest. I'll catch up little by little, but will be VERY selective about what gets printed and considered as C&I source material--particularly because another time-dependent thing looms on the close horizon.

(No, we didn't visit any libraries in French Polynesia. Sorry about that. For those with a historical bent, the Marquesas represent an extreme example of what Randy Newman calls "the Great Nations of Europe coming through"--probaby more than 100,000 population prior to first European contact, then down to about 4,000 by WWII, now back up to 8,000 or so thanks to antibiotics to help defend against the wonders of European civilization. Things got off to an unusually bad start: The first Western visit at one island resulted in 200 Marquesan deaths right on the spot.) (Oh, and they weren't "noble savages"--neither noble nor savages.)

That's it for now. Just thought I'd let anyone who cares know that I haven't actually disappeared for good.

Just because I don't use it doesn't make it worthless

A few folks might have gasped had they been at the Charleston Conference last week, in a Saturday discussion of OpenURL issues. The discussion got around to some sort of functionality for people to share tips and best practices (e.g., for new targets, new forms of linking, getting around problematic targets...)

Someone suggested a list.

I suggested that a Wiki might suit this particular need better than a list or even a blog.

Finishing Volume 4

Well, two days is "within the next week or so," so I didn't lie. That is, the document containing the title sheet and indexes for Cites & Insights volume 4 (2004) is now available for downloading.

Eagle-eyed readers may note that the story I just suggested, like the postings to C&I Updates, the Topica list, and a few other lists, is ungrammatical--because I left out "document containing the" for brevity, but certainly didn't use "are" to refer to a single PDF file.

Cites & Insights 4:14 (December 2004) available (+note)

Cites & Insights 4:14--December 2004--is now available for downloading.

This 22-page PDF issue includes:

Orkut revisited

(As I continue to bite my tongue to avoid a political comment...)

A while back I noted that Orkut said I had two million friends, via the 19 people actually in my friends list and the six-degrees-of-separation stuff.

I thought that was just silly. So, after a while, I decided to do something about it (besides mostly ignoring Orkut, which has worked quite well). I deleted seven "friends" who I've never met and don't really know well enough to consider trusted acquaintances, bringing the set down to 12.


Because I'm trying to stick with my decision not to post any more political posts (and boy, is that hard--but, you know, I don't think I'd change anyone's mind any more than the scores of other political posts are going to change my mind)...

I discovered something about my plebeian tastes recently. (Well, something more--I already knew that I preferred good/straightfoward food to Haute Cuisine, for example.)

Malaria and trivia

Those who peruse ChuckB's journal, as you should, may remember this item and my comment.

Turns out that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation underwrote the development of the malaria vaccine as well, according to an editorial in the SF Chronicle.

That shouldn't be surprising. Big Pharma is not known for investing huge sums into developing cures for "third-world diseases" or "diseases of the poor." But a big $nudge$ from the Gates people makes all the difference in the world.

The blues in black and white

Now I think I get it.

Some people see things as black and white. Other people see most of life as shades of gray.
For now, I won't characterize either in terms of politics, religion, or whatever--partly because it isn't that pat.

Those mindsets are so fundamentally different that they're pretty much irreconcilable--and it becomes exceedingly difficult for a "shades of gray" person to converse with or sometimes make sense of a "black and white" person.

Two million friends?

Another silly Orkut posting.

I accepted an invitation to join Orkut, partly to find out what "social software" was all about.

I continued to accept "friendships"--by and large--to give it a fair chance. And, I think, proposed "friendship" in one or two cases (both actual friends).

So far, there have been some strange invitations to join middle eastern communities, a couple of political mass-mailings, and that's it.

Today, a landmark of sorts was reached: I now have a supposed circle of 2,005,387 "friends" via the 19 "friends" in my social circle.

I'm now pondering whether to pare that set down to people who might fit more plausible definitions for useful social software--that is, people who I know enough to place some trust in (beyond the level of trust that I, as a notorious Pollyanna, place in almost everyone). That's mostly people I've actually met, and maybe one or two who I've learned to trust. I think it comes to 8 out of the 19. Nothing against the other 11; I just don't really know them to any significant degree.

I'd guess there are 300-500 people, maybe more, who I would put on a "trusted acquaintance"/friends list...People I'd go at least a little out of my way to respond to or help, and who I think would do the same for me. I suppose 8 on Orkut isn't bad.

But, based on that absurd two million number, I can only assume that "friends" of "friends" are as loosely defined as the current 19--that is, there's no real reason to believe that a "friend" of a "friend" of a "friend" of a...has anything more than possible name recognition with the link in the chain.

I haven't done anything yet. I'm not convinced that social software is worthless, but I'm pretty much reaching that conclusion for Orkut's implementation, at least as far as I'm concerned.

Postscript: Orkut now consistently yields a "Page has no data" error when I log in, so I think Rochelle and I are pretty much in the same boat.

Such is life: Even Google-owned websites go bad.


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