Saturday, June 26, 2010

The pivot, careers & other random thoughts

Random Thought #1 - At the SLA Annual Conference, keynote speaker James Carville noted that waiters and waitresses in New Orleans are not trying to become actors...a reference to the fact that many waiters in New York City are actually actors who are trying to make a living before their "big break".  Instead, he noted that wait staff in New Orleans see their work as being their career.  According to Carville, it is also likely that the person's parents also had worked as wait staff, making it "like father, like son" (my words).  His point was that because this is an honorable career in New Orleans, people do it well. Indeed, the service in every eatery - no matter its size, cuisine or price - was excellent.

It occurred to me that we often don't have many children following in the same footsteps as their parents anymore.  It used to be more common.  For those working to digitize materials and create forward-thinking digital libraries (or even new technologies), are you inspiring family members to follow in your footsteps?  Do they see your work as an honorable and important career that could also be their career?

Random Thought #2 - I attended the AlwaysOn Venture Summit East conference earlier this week (which had nothing at all to do with digitization).  One of the speakers talked about "the pivot". In that world, the pivot is when an entrepreneur realizes that the product/service that he is developing isn't what is needed and so "pivots" to a new product/service.  The speaker noted that an entrepreneur may pivot - change directions - several times before hitting on the right product to develop.

In terms of digitization, organizations make decisions about what they are going to do and how they are going to do it, and obtain funding to do exactly that.  Because the funding and project are now linked together, it can be difficult to make major changes.  Imagine, though, if a project could "pivot" once it was realized that there was a better path to follow.  Imagine if that change was seen as part of the learning or development process - a positive - and supported by the institution and the funding agency.  Would we have better digital collections online?

Random Thought #3 - The BP oil spill - disaster - in the Gulf of Mexico is on everyone's mind these days.  During my last morning in New Orleans, I chatted with another guest in the hotel who happened to also be a mayor of a town in northern Louisiana.  He noted that a hurricane can dump salt water 240 miles inland (near his town), which means that a hurricane could do the same with oil.  Hurricanes take many paths through the Gulf of Mexico and then onto land.  Imagine the devastation if one or more hurricanes picks up and deposits oil on land, cities, farms, historic sites, homes, people, cars, other words, every inch for miles. Could a culture survive that?  Would the cultural heritage - both physical and digital objects - survive?  What can we do to ensure that the answer is "yes"?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding random thought #3. Thanks for the quantitative anecdote about the salt water carried inland. The mayor's comment carries a lot of weight.

A 'viral' youtube video about oil in rain may have been faked, but it too serves as a reminder that we are in unprecedented conditions. - JECSavage