Skip to content

Water heaters and MPOW

Our tankless water heater quietly gave up the ghost sometime between my shower yesterday afternoon and 7 a.m. today. While waiting for the plumber to call back (which happened only five minutes later, a very good sign; even better, he didn’t express surprise that our water heater was tankless, and simply asked “What model?”), I realized that I hadn’t updated folks on my job.

That’s because, like our water heater up to yesterday, my job has been functioning just fine (even though it has far more moving parts). I work for, and among, very nice people, and I don’t mean “there are a few decent people among the usual assortment of sharks, jackals, and dodos,” I mean that by and large My Place Of Work is populated by exceptionally smart, nice people who know their jobs and do them well.

People ask, what do I do? I do “research and development,” which conjures up chemists in white smocks bent over petri dishes, but in my case means I take Important Topics of the Day relevant to library automation and try to write reports that help MPOW become smarter about them. I start by doing traditional research — databases, web searches, Gartner reports, and the like — and then scrunch everything together, look it over, and figure out who I need to speak with to fill in the gaps and answer questions. (I’m really all R and little D. We have an r&d’er who’s quite the savvy developer and at least a foot taller than me, and just fyi, he’ll be at Code4Lib.)

Anyway, schmoozing is where my job gets really fun, because I like to schmooze. No, that’s an understatement: I adore schmoozing. Schmoozing is key to the “r” part of r&d. After I’ve run through the typically dull “how we done it good” articles (which in most cases make me begin asking how they really done it), I begin emailing/calling/messaging/Skyping/Facebooking and, when possible, tete-a-teteing. That’s when I get the real goods. There are times I get off the phone almost dizzy with revelations and “this is just for you” disclosures. The LibraryLand backchannel is alive and well (and I do my part to help my colleagues connect the dots).

The schmooze phase of r&d reminds me how many smart, passionate librarians we have in LibraryLand, and what good ideas they have, and how hard and creatively they work to solve the problems of the day. I think if there is one “inreach” I would like to make to MPOW it is to pump up the message that some of the most creative technology thinking of the day is coming from librarians themselves. I think it is easy to put the external world on a pedestal and assume that the slick commercial world is smarter than that loose collective of true library technologists. Mostly, the slicksters just have a lot more money.

Posted on this day, other years: