Engaging with “real life”

It’s been a rather eventful past week. There has, in fact, been so much happening that I’ve neglected to keep up my daily writing practice, and my art practice. As much as that could be a setback where it comes to pursuing my personal goals (which are, or were: relying on my writing and/or my art, possibly for income [?]), it has also been the case that within the past week, I’ve gotten a lot done in regard to jobs and my ongoing education. As well, I can find a much greater return being a Professional in some capacity, than I can, in writing or art.

It also hasn’t been the case that I haven’t been writing at all: it is the case that I’ve been working things out in writing and not posting them, and also that I’ve been working on a job application, in addition to expanding my online job search. In addition to that, I’ve been doing research on certain job titles in which I thought I might be interested.

If you’ve ever seen this blog before, you’ll also notice that I’ve eliminated the white-on-black text, as I noticed it was making my vision blurry, even when my eyes weren’t tired: with or without glasses. Hopefully, the new color scheme will be a bit more optically-friendly. The links are black for now, in the interest of accessibility. There weren’t many other options, unless I changed the background or the Theme: vivid color saturation may attract attention, but that doesn’t mean text written in it, is readable. For now, links should be marked by a dotted underline.

As I’ve been reviewing this site, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of things that have changed on my end. For one thing, I’ve done some research on Academic Librarianship, and have realized that I may indeed be (a lot) better off in aiming for an Information Organization role, than an Academic Librarian one (the latter of which, I’m relatively unprepared for).

In addition — I don’t know where I got this — I recall reading something about how most Technical Services departments (which include Information Organization) are in Academic Libraries. So I would also be able to benefit from and contribute to EDI (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiatives, even if I wasn’t on the front lines.

As well, within Information Organization paths, there is much more wiggle room where it comes to being social. One of the Librarians I’ve spoken to, even said that the situation was intolerable for her because she was alone. I don’t mind being alone: and anyway, it’s not quite alone, because you still have the Cataloging community. It also (for me) isn’t quite alone, because you have the books. Books, talk; even if they are asynchronous.

I spoke about the possibility of becoming an Academic Librarian with an Art History subject specialization, in my last post. It sounded good…until I realized I had no solid knowledge on what Academic Librarians actually do, and if it required daily public contact. (I realized this through drafting a letter, which I ended up not sending. Just now, I found it in my records.)

Face-to-face interaction — with random people — is not something I find joy in. Or maybe I should modify that: I don’t like talking to anyone and everyone. I can talk to people, but I don’t often seek to do it, unless there’s a need to do so (or I know the people and we have a working mutual understanding of our relationship)…and to be honest, dealing with random people, some of whom were inebriated, abusive, or hostile, was the most anxiety-inducing part of my last two jobs. I know I’m not alone, here. Customer Service must be nerve-wracking even for people who don’t have my condition…or, at least, that’s my perspective.

In the past, I’ve mistaken the simple titles of, “Librarian,” and more recently, “Academic Librarian,” to mean that these roles are somehow more basic to the industry, but in reality — those are also specializations. They just happen to be more social specializations…which appear to be the unspoken norm. Why being social is the norm, I’m not particularly sure.

I know that I’m “slightly” on the spectrum, however (to quote one of my old doctors). To consciously be able to understand that this factor contributes to (or at least describes) why I am the way I am, which also actually is the way a lot of other people also are, does feel better than having no information at all.

I mean, you know: it’s biology. Not a personal fault; not something easily (if at all) changeable. I need to find my people, rather than trying to emulate a neurotypical person whom I’ll never actually be.

I guess it’s like realizing I’m an ethnic minority: who I am is normal to me, but not to others (and there is a name for it, and there are other people in similar positions; as I recently realized all Japanese-American people rooted on the West Coast who have been in the country for three generations or more, probably have ties to the WWII Internment). Still, though; if this only affects me “slightly,” how deep must autism go? I have been told, however, that another of my diagnoses also reduces proclivities for social activity…but I didn’t know that before this year.

I do wonder just how much I should really trust self-administered personality assessments, given that I have at least two clinically significant factors to consider…and don’t know if they are just what happens to people on the extreme ends of the bell curve, or whether my personality and the known conditions that affect me, are separate. It’s annoying when you go through a battery of tests and then aren’t told everything that matters about what was learned. Granted, I was maybe 21 years old, when I was assessed.

In any case, my research indicates that I won’t necessarily be happy in trying to make myself more social (if, that is, my introversion and level of emotional stability, etc., are inherent and fundamental to my personality). I wish I had known this, 15 years ago! (You mean, I didn’t have to struggle through trying to acclimate myself to people all that time? Really? You mean, I can’t change this? I don’t have to try to change this?)

I’ve also realized that — unless I want to, I don’t really need to put myself through an Art History degree, and maybe shouldn’t, for the sake of my mental health. None of us are getting younger, that is, and I don’t want to be caught without a means of support and going into debt, if my family can no longer care for me. (To be honest, if cost versus future gain were not a factor, I’d go for an MFA, anyway.) I don’t need an Art History MA to be an artist, and I don’t need it to write about Art (it would just make me more informed). I might be OK with doing Art on the side, and having Information Organization be my main work.

I actually seem to be good at the latter — although, of course, we’re still dealing with MARC, not BIBFRAME. At this point, I don’t even really know how BIBFRAME is supposed to work, but I do know that XML and RDF are currently involved in building it. These tools may shift, the closer we get to actual implementation…whenever that comes.

OK, I just realized that no one except Librarians and LIS students, or Technical support staff, would likely understand that last paragraph. MARC is MAchine Readable Cataloging; basically, the successor to the physical card catalog. Only libraries use MARC, pretty much. BIBFRAME is the (supposed) successor to MARC, but it hasn’t been implemented yet. BIBFRAME is expressed in XML records (XML is eXtensible Markup Language, and related to SGML and HTML). RDF is the Resource Description Framework, which is built on a Graph database model, as versus your (presently) regular Relational database model, for example Oracle, Access, or MariaDB.

Basically, you create phrases: Subject – Predicate – Object, like (The Beatles) – (sang) – (Yellow Submarine). “The Beatles” here is a string of words which would have its own unique, separate identifier. The same goes for “Yellow Submarine”. Together with the predicate, “sang,” (which has its own unique definition and identifier) they form an RDF Triple, all the parts of which can be recombined with other parts, and together they form a record — so if you were searching for, “who ‘sang’ ‘Yellow Submarine’?” — you would get an answer translated into human-readable form, “The Beatles,” (in whatever language) along with anyone else who was recorded as having covered the song. You could also ask, “what did ‘The Beatles’ ‘sing’?”, which should retrieve everything that has been recorded which they sang. You could further break down “The Beatles” into its constituent band members, correlate McCartney with Wings as well as The Beatles, etc.

A bonus is the possibility that AI will in the future, be able to “understand” what the phrases mean, as versus records which are readable to humans, but not to machines — as happens when data input relies on non-unique strings of characters. (“The Beatles” means something to us [they’re a band, they made music, etc.], but not necessarily to machines [what is a “band”? what is “music”?].)

A table of RDF Triples with the same Predicate (‘sang’) forms part of a Graph database, which to my understanding is a collection of such tables…though that seems a little off. I could be wrong.

That’s how I understand it, in a nutshell, but I really need to be studying this, more. My information is a bit rusty: I last read about this, at least two years ago. Apologies if I inserted information that isn’t true, here.

The incentive to switch to BIBFRAME is to integrate Libraries with the larger Information world, instead of forming its own Information silo and possibly going extinct as the Internet supersedes it: Google Graph Search already uses some of this technology, from what I have heard. (I haven’t looked into the back end of it, though.) Forming XML as a rigorous method of conveying (and validating: making sure the code makes sense) information is simple enough, but when the files get complicated, they can be something of a headache to try and visually read.

I guess making the decision to not learn the skills is like not reading a textbook, because it will always be superseded by a later and newer (and supposedly improved) version. Or it could be like not reading any books at all: as our knowledge is always imperfect, why read the imperfect thing, rather than hold out for the perfect one?

But it doesn’t really make any sense to hold out for a later version, because even that later version will be imperfect, in relation to the future that builds on it.

My intuition is saying, don’t count yourself out of the process, as I could be part of the unfolding of the process. And knowing something which becomes obsolete has to be better than knowing nothing about the field at all?

Maybe it would be of use to try and live in the present. I know I’m just beginning, but at least this is interesting.

It’s about to be Friday…I have a few records to amend before I can submit them, but otherwise, my time is free. The question is, whether to put the work first (I have been hoping to add a few fields to my MARC records in order to attempt to excel: I have not been taught the specific way to do this, but I’m resourceful), or to do something like paint, which at the very least, will draw me back to the present. The thing is, it’s much easier to stay in the present, when one doesn’t have looming deadlines. It’s just a horrible thing to have five hours left before the project is due, and it isn’t finished, yet.

Everything that has to be done, is done — other than cross-referencing my first five records. I should remember that. I’m just such a perfectionist that it’s hard to leave it alone. I found mistakes in those records, today: I bet my Prof. was just waiting for me to see it!

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