Friday, November 12, 2010

The Internet! Bah

A friend of a friend posted a link yesterday to an op-ed from 1995. I will quote:
"Try reading a book on disc. At best, it's an unpleasant chore: the myopic glow of a clunky computer replaces the friendly pages of a book. And you can't tote that laptop to the beach. Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we'll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Intenet. Uh, sure."

I wrote back to my friend "That guy must feel like such a doofus."

Well, turns out he does...this is an excerpt of what he thinks of his article now:
"Most of my screwups have had limited publicity: Forgetting my lines in my 4th grade play...Wasting a week hunting for planets interior to Mercury's orbit using an infrared system with a noise level so high that it couldn't possibly detect 'em. Heck - trying to dry my sneakers in a microwave oven...
And, as I've laughed at others' foibles, I think back to some of my own cringeworthy contributions.
Now, whenever I think I know what's happening, I temper my thoughts: Might be wrong, Cliff...
Warm cheers to all,
-Cliff Stoll on a rainy Friday afternoon in Oakland"

Cliff Stoll's embarrassment is probably a message to us all. Whenever I think about the new future of cataloging, I have the tendency to think "RDA? FRBR? Bah." Mostly this is due to a fear of the unknown, and a general dislike of people who are optimists. I am not an optimist. I am more of a...raging bulldozer of pessmism. Seeing that there were 300 people at the RDA class, though, gives me pause. Maybe we'll really do this thing. Maybe someday, library catalogs will be the most usable and efficient way of finding information that the Web has to offer. And we'll all understand how metadata is generated and actually *appreciate* what it means to generate all that metadata. And I'll have my own pony.

Sorry. My optimism got away from me for a second. I mean, I'll have my own brain-implanted internet access chip.

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"Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness." —Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril.