trees, some with blazes marking trail
Trail markers in the forest

Overwhelmed. This is the word that I’ve been using for the past two years when I think about social media, all the information online, the news, television shows, books, even sewing patterns. There is so much. More than our brains can handle. It is amazing. Like the biggest candy store ever, and we have unlimited access to it, from a tiny glass screen most often. We manage to get overwhelmed so easily, because we’re multitasking constantly, looking things up, reading what so-and-so posted about whatever is happening in the world, getting distracted by someone’s cute skirt in a status update, trying to remember to respond to that email about something that is lost in the shuffle of messages, picking the perfect emoji to send back to your sister’s text about her vacation.

Another word is distracted. There’s so much. Just doing the dishes sometimes feels like a vacation from my life, because I’m focusing on one thing and not ten. Granted, being a parent and pet owner, there are many eyes on me most days who need stuff and want stuff so that also keeps me overwhelmed, distracted and running around as well. But I also have myself and my technology habit, which is keeping me distracted with the multitasking and candy store atmosphere that is always just a reach away.

I keep hearing that the elite technologists, more often than not on the left coast I’m guessing, are doing away with smart phones. Is this some kind of canary in the coal mine signal to the rest of us? We are lost in the glut of content, so much so that angry trolling is expected on social media almost all the time, and communication is often taken out of context. And we are addicted. I’m definitely addicted. I can see out of it still, though, and this is what makes me pay attention to the fact that some people are going back to dumb phones.

"Pay Attention" sign
Sign above my desk

Attention. This is another word. I have a note on my bulletin board at work that says ‘Pay Attention.’ I got it at a training where we used improvisation to work on our listening skills. I think paying attention is really important in this world. Both in our daily moving through the world: doing dishes, listening to my kids, listening to my coworkers, but also in our digital moving through the world. The digital space is where attention is so tricky. On the one hand, we pay too much attention to our devices and our feeds, to the detriment of the real things in front of us. Our attention is directed at this swarm of voices and ideas always just a reach away.

On the other hand, it is really hard to manage one’s attention online. And this is a big problem. When we try to pay attention, we get lost. There are no trail markers out there, no one is carving the paths – there are just more and more billboards and intersections and we can often never get back to where we want to be.

I remember when I first starting using the internet in earnest. It was for an English class in college in the late 1990’s. It was an awesome class. I learned how to write HTML and read critical commentaries on the nature of networked information in the humanities. I would bring this experience up every day if I could, it had such an impact on me. But even back then, I had a taste of the way the web is now. We sat in the computer lab in the library, our assignment was to search the web. Find interesting things. Link to them on our website. I remember writing in my group discussion board post about how much of a ‘down the rabbit hole’ experience it was, and how two hours of lab time went by in a flash. The nature of hyperlinks, which as so awesome, is also part of what reduces the trail markers. Publications like books and journals and newspapers create the trail markers for us, but out there in the wide world, we are all independent researchers. And while that is fine if we are trying to research, more often we’re just trying to go for a hike and get to the view. But we’re not getting to the view, or we get presented a view and it isn’t the real one. Attention. Distraction. Overwhelmed.


Page with text, Alice and Cheshire cat
Screen shot from Alice in Wonderland on the Internet Archive , Gettysburg College book


Alice speaks to Cheshire Cat

`That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.

`I don’t much care where–‘ said Alice.

`Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.

`–so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.

`Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, `if you only walk long enough.’

Alice felt that this could not be denied, so she tried another question. `What sort of people live about here?’

`In that direction,’ the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,’ waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.’

`But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice remarked.

`Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: `we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

`How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

`You must be,’ said the Cat, `or you wouldn’t have come here.’


Today I did my first stand-up report in Slack for the start of our Islandora 7 research sprint. I even used Markdown to format it properly…

Excited to look at the possibilities with Islandora 7, and to think about how we can plan for migration to Islandora CLAW in the process.. we are late to the Islandora game but we are already playing in the linked data game so here’s hoping we can help with learning Islandora and migration paths to CLAW! Especially psyched from talking to my colleague at Vassar and seeing some of these great examples at Vancouver Public Library and Grinnell.

A friend pinged me about a pattern sale from a favorite sewing designer recently, and that has kicked off a number of big plans for me to do some sewing this spring. For my kiddos, and for me! Cheers to the makers in this world 🙂


Today I’m trying to burn a song to a CD. I haven’t done this in many years. It is taking forever to get everything in place to do it – shows you how tech changes! Just finding a CD-R was quite a challenge!

I’m learning about insulation in houses, and thinking about the envelope of a house. I am not in the construction business, but I always enjoy conversations with those who are, as there is some alignment with my work in building digital collections and repositories, which are somewhat like building physical structures. Rules, best practices, choices…

I am on day 2 of a new 30 day yoga challenge, my third of this year! This one is by Tim Senesi, who is very good at explaining how to hold the various poses. So far, I’m appreciating his approach.

Pi day

We had a great Pi day in the library, and I’m getting ready for another one at the school tonight. Here is my pie, with homemade pate brisee, which turned out really well!! Yum!

picture of a pecan pie
My pecan π

I’ve been thinking about this post by Trevor Owens on Parsimony and Care in digital curation. It resonates with me and cites several of the authors I read and documented in this post I wrote on Repositories, repair and system migration. I’m still thinking through the concept of elegance in such things. Elegance to me makes sense, but I worry that it is too subjective. Maybe this is part of the curation, we can’t avoid subjectivity, so long as we are up front about it?

RIP Stephen Hawking…


Daylight savings has wiped me out!

Back to eating my Van’s Power Grain waffles for breakfast – so filling, and perfect for a morning of team-building work with the MBTI.

In other news, I’m starting to plan my trip to Bozeman for Open Repositories, where I will be giving a 5 minute talk on some outlandish ideas with my colleague.


A Friday Nor’easter today, mostly just rain, thanks to Dave Hayes I am fully aware of what is happening with the weather!

This morning I got to meet with the folks behind the New Books network, which is an incredible compendium of interviews between scholars about new books they’ve written. We got to talking about linked data, the future, the hope for a more open web, and how DOIs factor into that potential. Fingers crossed on the open web stuff…

I’m also happy with the progress on our new blog and webpage for our digital collections work. It is fun to see it turning into a real thing, and helping us in understanding and organizing the work we are doing!

This weekend I’ll be handing off a quilt that I’ve been working on for a while, and I’m excited about it. I used the quilt as you go method, which seems like it could also be a metaphor for a ‘live as you go’ method to being.