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As I commute back and forth on the park-and-ride bus (50 minutes each direction) from my new house in Espanola to work in Santa Fe, I listen to a lot of National Public Radio.  Along with keeping me properly distressed over the U.S. involvement in foreign affairs and anxious about the free-falling economy, I also use it as my bellweather of popular trends and opinions.  I don’t get cable, so I can’t watch MTV.  The pulpy content of glossy grocery aisle magazines makes me queasy.  So these days my pop culture sensibility mostly comes via Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

I particularly enjoyed the story this week about how “websites let bibliophiles share books virtually“.  Even though LibraryThing has been around since 2005 and these biblio-social networking sites are proliferating like rabbits at a love-in, I’m glad to hear it’s not just me and my bookclub/librarian buddies using them as a nerdy alternative to MySpace. So who (besides Steve Jobs) says nobody reads anymore?

I’m intrigued by the idea of Personal Learning Environments.  Specifically defined, they integrate different online tools into AJAX start pages (such as those that can be created in Bloglines or My Yahoo).  Ron Lubensky, in his e-learning blog, writes that “a Personal Learning Environment is a facility for an individual to access, aggregate, configure and manipulate digital artifacts of their ongoing learning experiences.”  So loosely defined, they are aggregators of personal digital information.

I would like to become more adept at this myself. I use a lot of online tools, but tend to keep them in their separate spheres. I am not yet savvy enough with tools and plug-ins to have them all at my fingertips at the same time.  There are quite a few tools out there to assist in the setup of PLEs, such as iGoogle and Pageflakes. There is also an archived WebJunction webinar on the subject that gives helpful hints for information professionals.

It seems that the proliferation of digital learning means education (however defined) is both increasingly prevalent and increasingly informal. I think both of these are positive developments. Any learning I can accomplish through my own exploration (conscious or unconscious) is in many ways preferable to formal, structured, TUITION-BASED education. If I can set up an online environment that puts this experience on auto-pilot, all the better.

 One way to conceptualize what information seeking/receiving behavior looks like is to create a mindmap, which is like a illustrative web of how information comes in and how it is connected (I got this idea from Ray Sims and Michele Martin).  Because I love organizing the seemingly disjointed into rational lists, this is a project I would definitely like to take on sometime soon. Maybe it will help me develop a more powerful and logical Personal Learning Environment. It seems like a useful exercise both online and offline.

Unfortunately, it seems like I have less and less time to take advantage of online learning opportunities, formal or informal. Lately it seems like all my free time is taken up with the old-fashioned activities of reading (mostly those artifacts known as “books”) and writing. But I still think this is an interesting idea. I would love to see the directions in which other people have taken this idea – any examples out there you’d like to share?

I came home yesterday to a hand-written note in my mailbox asking me to come in to interview at a Santa Fe gallery. Apparently my resume had cut off the pertinent contact information other than address (stupid printer), and they pursued me all the way out to Eldorado to set up an interview. I don’t think anyone’s ever gone to such lengths to contact me. I met with the Director today at one of the biggest and most prestigious galleries in Santa Fe (the first piece that I looked at was a $750,000 Georgia O’Keeffe painting) . I was a little worried they were going to ask me about my impressions of certain contemporary artists (I know pathetically little about the contemporary art market, though that may change), but luckily it’s a gallery of mostly historical paintings and Native American pottery. So those of you who know me know I was pretty much drooling at the idea of actually being paid to work at this place. It’s basically the kind of work I’ve volunteered my time for in my various internships and research projects – researching and cataloging the art in the gallery’s inventory. They get new pieces every day, so it will be very much like working for a museum or an auction house. I was basically offered the job on the spot (contingent on salary negotiation) and accepted this afternoon.

Finally gainfully employed – I’m so excited! I went into information work (originally Museum Studies) with the lofty idea that I would combine my love of art with my love of organization, classification, and cataloging, and find a job in a museum where I could combine these things. Being a registrar has always been a dream. This is also definitely a firm step in the right direction of being an art librarian, as I will get great experience with art research. And who knows who I will meet in the Santa Fe art community? Maybe Val Kilmer will come in and buy a painting. As long as I stay involved with the professional library side of things, I would say this is the best of both worlds.

That actually wasn’t my only interview of the day – I also survived phone interview #2 for a job at St. Olaf College in Minnesota. Yes, I keep moving further south from Minnesota winters for a reason, but being close to family is definitely a compelling draw. The interview went surprisingly well. Maybe I’m getting the hang of phone interviews. I got to talk about my ideas for implementing Web 2.0 concepts in academic libraries and making ILL and circ services more pertinent and useful to patrons.

Though the phone interview and all the other hoops I’ve jumped through have been good experience (I think this will all be so much easier the next time around), I am SO GLAD to be done with this process for the time being. It is no overstatement that job searching is a full time job. I have used more ink on cover letters than all the papers I wrote in college and grad school combined.

I heard a story about Twitter on NPR the other day that made me reconsider my past dismissal of the service as a self-indulgent waste of time.  For the most part, the story was a basic introduction to the idea of nano-blogging to and from a variety of electronic devices and how that might be an interesting, fun, and perhaps even useful activity.  It described the Twitter map , which sails around the globe giving glimpses into different “tweets”.  These meanderings create sort of a post-modern performance art vibe.  When “Larsk in Illinois” mused “Somebody called me a renaissance man the other day and it just sunk in” or “Blanca in Virginia” told the world “they finally got me my own trash can.  Finally I can throw stuff away” I don’t think they were necessarily attempting poetry or even introspection, but the effect of multiple random thoughts creates that kind of creative collage, like those stories you write in a group where everyone adds a line and then it’s mushed together into one cohesive whole.  It’s sort of fascinating.  Maybe excessive online mundanity has inadvertantly reinvigorated the art of poetry.  As the NPR story also pointed out, its limited character format is an ideal context for haiku…

January 2020
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