Daily Thoughts 134: Stacks of Books

I enjoy books. I can’t get enough time to read all of the books I want to read. Right now I have over a dozen books on my currently reading list. I’m reading some more actively than others, of course. Plus, a number of the titles are for my MLIS program (not that it really matters).

It’s amazing to me that many people don’t feel this same drive to read.

Many of the books I have stacking up right now are titles that I have picked up because I want to learn more about so many things. Much of it relates to writing, fiction, art, coding, or design. Today I placed an order for a number of books for our home renovation. That will take years, but I plan to get started after this semester ends and continue to work on it as time (and money) allows.

Star Trek Continues

Have you watched Star Trek Continues? I know, it’s not a book. I really enjoyed this fan creation.

I think they’re doing three more episodes. Can’t wait.

Daily Thoughts 133: Flowing Fiction

The Inevitable cover artI’ve been listening to The Inevitable over the last few days. I still have about half the book remaining. I’m curious if he addresses the unevenness of the sorts of changes being discussed. Change is never even, never smooth, never uniform across any society. The other day we ran into an issue in one of our libraries due to limited bandwidth at that location. I expect that will change, but it takes time. Everyone doesn’t reach the same point at the same time even if they’d like to change. Everything ends up lumpy.

Cars, for example. Go out on any road or highway and you’re bound to see all sorts of makes and models, some decades old and some brand new. As autonomous cars begin populating the roads we’ll see them alongside someone’s mud-splattered, battered old Ford pickup, coughing and spewing out dark smoke from the tailpipe while it drives alongside these new sleek, silent, electric vehicles.

Fluidity

I find (given both my work in libraries and as a writer) the views on the changing nature of books fascinating. I have many ideas that I’d like to explore in this area that I’ve already been working on. The notion of interconnected texts, the flowing and changing of digital works, and the augmentation of physical objects makes perfect sense to me. I see print books as a potential interface to other digital content. Nothing so cumbersome as a QR code. The printed text itself will become interactive without needing to change a thing through augmented and aware devices like glasses.

Take the simple matter of looking up a word. On a Kindle, I can press a word and get a definition. Soon, with my glasses, if I touched a word on a printed page, it will show the same sort of popup overlay. The overlay will look perfectly like part of the book ‘display,’ regardless of my head motion. Other augmentations will show annotations, comments, and other information from the book. In a series, touching a character’s name might pop up a character timeline that I can scroll through, even back through other books in the series. The entire print book becomes the code with which the glasses can interact.

Fiction as a Service

Cover art for Discount ArmageddonI’m also interested in other approaches. Some authors have found success on Patreon—Seanan McGuire is currently set to receive $8,673 per short story, more than many authors receive as an advance from traditional publishers on a novel. All from 1,379 patrons. As Kelly talks about in his book, it isn’t so much that they are paying for the stories (which cost as little as $1 per story), but for the interaction with the author. Those who pay more have access to more interaction (and stuff), increasing as the amount goes up. McGuire planned to only do the “toaster project” for a year, with a goal of improving her house. It’s an interesting project, well supported by her fans. She almost seems embarrassed to receive the support. At one story per month, that’s a pretty good living!

One of the things that I find interesting, is what Kelly talked about in the book. That you’re paying for the interaction. I doubt the fans will want to give that up when the “toaster project” concludes. (Actually, checking the recent posts, she is extending it another six months with an option to extend for another year).

Fiction as Flows

One of my post-MLIS projects will focus on a toolkit for writers. I’m interested in something that allows a deeper exploration of the text, an easier fluidity of the form of the text, and ways to reform and analyze it. That may end up being some form of XML/XSLT or some other approach. I still have a lot of studying to do before I get too much into the project.

I do know a few things about it:

  • Text independent of display and format. The basic format is plain text that can morph and display in different ways and be easily transformed into different formats, from e-books to print to whatever.
  • Data-rich. I want the text to be rich in data. That includes stats at various levels from how quickly words are written, a timeline of every character stroke, to layers of interlinked data and metadata about the text. Selecting a portion of text can pull up rich metadata about the selected text, changes, notes, etc.
  • Social. I want it easy to share and involve readers with the text. And make it easy for readers to network and support the creation of the text. That could be monetarily, or through providing comments and feedback.

It’ll be something interesting to dig deeper into as I complete the MLIS and move on to my other projects.

Daily Thoughts 132: Meme-Based Disease Transmission

Mosquitos have served as transmission vectors for disease throughout human history. Other diseases transfer via fluids, contact, sex, and other forms of exposure.

After years of research and the patient development of facts about diseases, scientists developed safe and effective vaccines that all but eradicated many deadly diseases. Unfortunately, diseases found a new vector possibly even more effective than the common mosquito. The Meme.

Meme example

Deny Everything

The CFR interactive map shows the rise in vaccine-preventable diseases over the past ten years. The increased transmission of such diseases stemmed not from mutation or climate change factors but to the spread of a meme advantageous to the diseases. This concept of vaccines causing autism or other conditions spread with the rapidity of global information flows and altered the behavior of people. Incidents of diseases such as pertussis and measles increased. The meme-vector represents a new avenue for diseases to successfully infect hosts and appears to have been very effective without requiring adaptations among the diseases. Even in the face of obvious outbreaks and research showing the safety and the effectiveness of vaccines, anti-vaccination websites, books, videos, and other media continue to spread the meme that there is something more dangerous about vaccinations than the diseases with a proven track record of killing people!

This trend shows that memes produce significant changes in human behavior as they spread, cultivating real-world changes that prove stubborn to eradicate. So far no one has come up with an anti-vaxx vaccination.

Be Consistent

If anti-vaxxers, climate change denialists, and other flat Earthers want to deny decades of accumulated scientific knowledge, is it too much to ask that they be consistent? I have some suggestions:

  • Don’t fly on airplanes. Clearly, the physics and research done to develop the technology are suspect.
  • Likewise, don’t use cars, microwaves, refrigerators, computers, phones, air conditioning, heaters—hell, just give up technology. Why believe any of it?
  • Include stone age technologies too, because what did they know then?
  • Sanitation? Forget about it. Clearly, it’s wrong, right?
  • Dentistry? No, see above.

It’s ridiculous that we know how to prevent thousands upon thousands of children from suffering and death, and people believe memes and other nonsense that puts everyone at risk.

Daily Thoughts 131: Inevitable

The robot swiveled with a smooth, precise motion and picked a book out of the return bin. The robot’s hand had already identified the book and discharged it from the library user’s account. Without a pause, the robot deposited the book on the green metal shelving cart, the second arm deftly making a space among the books already on the cart.

More items clattered through the book return slot and the robot spun, picked each up and registered the return. Most went on the cart for shelving. In a few instances, a receipt printer produced a slip of paper, which the robot slipped into the book before placing it on a red metal shelving cart.

The Advance of Machine Learning

The Inevitable cover artI’ve been listening to Kevin Kelly’s The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future. The scenario above was inspired by the book, particularly the discussion of the robot Baxter (and its siblings, like Sawyer).

Isn’t a standard automated materials handling (AMH) system a better solution for library work? Perhaps. The decreasing costs of the robotic systems and the small footprint make them appealing for certain uses. The two-armed Baxter takes up more room, however, two arms may be more useful given the variety of library materials. To be clear I’m not suggesting either of these is the right solution for librariesThey are designed for certain types of work from assembly to packing. They can be taught to perform different tasks by moving the arm through the steps required. That’s a bit simplified, but it’s something to look at in the relatively near future. An AMH can cost $200,000 compared to $22,000 for a Baxter unit. At that rate, a couple properly configured Baxters could be an affordable option coupled with an RFID-equipped hand. It’d be interesting to talk to the company about the concept. If the carts were also mobile units and knew when they were at capacity, then the returns system could check in items, transport totes, and arrange themselves. It’d be far more flexible than current AMH systems, cost less, and do more.

Interesting possibilities! In any case, Kelley’s book is an interesting read.

Daily Thoughts 130: Tired

Author's selfie A bit tired today. I prioritized getting my assignments done yesterday, a good thing considered, but that meant very little sleep last night. I don’t mind so much, except there are things that I need to do today. Getting things done yesterday comes at the expense of things today when sleep is sacrificed. That sleep debt needs to be paid. I can’t say it has done much for my mood today!

Autism Talk

I watched Rosie King’s short TED Talk today. I’ve been watching a few of these videos, with people talking about their experiences and views on ASD.

infinite diversity in infinite combinations – Memory Alpha

Challenges Delayed

I’d like to get back to working on my various other projects, but right now I’m going to prioritize finishing this semester. I only have a few weeks left. That also means final projects and papers, so I’ll need to focus and use my time effectively.

Daily Thoughts 129: Late Night Studying

Author's selfie It’s late! I’ve been busy all day working on assignments and studying. We did take a break at one point to run out and do some quick errands in town, but mostly I’ve been in front of a computer screen all day. It’s nearly midnight. Time to get to sleep!

Gnome Efficiency Team

One of my assignments today—a game designed for library folks.

Example of gameplay

This shows the game in play (from my demo on how to play). More information about the game is available over at Shush Games.

Chipmunk

On my walk this morning I spied a little chipmunk. I named him Waldo. Can you find him? I think this picture would make a good jigsaw puzzle.

Picture of a Chipmunk named Waldo

Daily Thoughts 128: Broken Streak!

Author's selfie My streak broke! It’s fine. My brain really likes streaks. Yesterday I was busy with other things and ended up just not taking the time to write down my thoughts.

The best thing about yesterday? I finally was able to meet my new nephew. I’d seen pictures, but we took the time to drop by my brother’s place and visit. It was great seeing them, and of course, lots of fun to see our nephew. With everything going on in my life, it can be a challenge sometimes. It sort of makes me feel a bit like a grandparent, given the age difference between my brother and I. I remember holding my brother when he was just a baby (I was already a teenager).

Otherwise, the day was mostly errands and studying, or a combination. I sat out shopping in Starbucks in order to get more studying done. Afterward, at home, I mostly worked on my assignments until just before bed.

Today?

I’m posting this and then turning my focus to more assignments and studying. I’m off tomorrow, mostly to have time to get more done. Just over a month now until the end of the semester. I need to focus and stay on top of things, and tackle the final assignments.

Daily Thoughts 127: Star Trek Continues

Author's selfie Okay, some things are starting to make more sense as I learn more. That’s good!

Cover art for NeuroTribesI finished listening to NeuroTribes! Wow, great book. Life-changing. Heart-breaking at times. I’ve had this book on my radar for quite a while (like so many books) and finally took the time to listen to it. I’m glad I did. I’ll be thinking about this one for a long time. I’m planning to read some other books referenced by Silberman. This is a book everyone could benefit from reading.

Cover art for ConvergenceThere’s a deeper issue in this book too. It is the whole question of how people deal with other people. The xenophobia that apparently runs through so many people is baffling to me. One of my favorite science fiction series is C. J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series. Although it could be called Downton Abbey in space with assassins, it deals with these sorts of fundamental questions about relationships between people who are biologically wired to think and feel differently. It looks at the efforts of people on each side to cross the divide and at least try to understand and get along. Plus they’re just fun books! The new one, Convergence, just came out. I’m reading Visitor now because I hadn’t gotten to it yet. Cherryh approaches similar issues in other books. I also enjoyed CyteenThe Faded Sun series, and many others.

The future of the Federation in Star Trek seems very distant these days with the awful rise in intolerance, hostility, ignorance, and violence that people seem so eager to embrace.

Star Trek Continues

Speaking of Star Trek, I’ve enjoyed Star Trek Continues, the fan made series continuing TOS. The new episode came out recently. I haven’t had time to watch it—but I’m looking forward to finding time to settle in and watch!

It should be fun!

Daily Thoughts 126: Time and Emilie Autumn

 

Author's selfie I feeling rather worn down today and tired. Up early this morning, then a busy day at work (even though it feels like I didn’t get as much done as I’d like). I have quite a lot to do for my classes or I’d hit the sack even though it’s early. I need to make some progress on my assignments. I have several due in the next few days and I haven’t found much time to work on them yet.

Other Projects

As much as I enjoy my library studies, I have many other projects that I’d like to work on. My challenges. Studies outside of school. The massive reboot of my fiction, more time on my flash fiction project DriveByStories.com, and several others. I have a writer’s toolkit that I want to work on. I have plans for a library advocacy and design project to launch. Plus many other website, coding, data analysis, and visualization projects. I don’t have much longer left this semester. I’ll have more time for everything else. At least, I’ll have time for some of the other projects. I’ll still have to decide which to focus on. And that does include my final portfolio project for the degree, too.

Emilie Autumn

I’d never heard of Emilie Autumn until my random Wikipedia page came up with one of her albums today.

I’ve been listening to her albums this evening.

Daily Thoughts 125: The Challenge of Play

Author's selfie I spent the major part of the day today training new employees. This is an aspect of my job that I enjoy. I particularly like it when people question assumptions that the organization has had in place for a long time. I always want to know if we’re wearing blinders and there is something that we haven’t considered, or something that we should reconsider because times and/or circumstances have changed.

Daily Sketch Challenge!

Quail SketchI took time this morning for a quick sketch. I listened to Michael Nobbs’s podcast, then spent a few minutes working on the sketch of a quail. I saw a flock the other morning on my way to work and thought it’d make a good subject for today’s sketch. I haven’t been making time for my challenges recently, due in part to time constraints from focusing on school assignments. It’s a challenge to know whether or not spending time on the challenges will mean that I run out of time to complete assignments. Interestingly, I don’t usually worry too much about time spent on other things, so it’s odd to single out a short creativity session as being the thing that caused the problem. I think it’s still rooted in the challenges being ‘important.’ They’re supposed to be play.

I increased the speed of the middle of the video.