Change the world

I work in Higher Education in the UK.

Every day I see enterprisey systems which are awful, terrible, unfriendly, unusable, behemoths.

The market for each niche system is more or less a monopoly.

The market is prime for smaller, more agile, more user-friendly systems to come in and destroy them.

Please, somebody just kill off these dinosaurs.

What are librarians for?

Seth Godin wrote an interesting piece about libraries recently, and it rang true with me. I’m reading more than ever, but I wouldn’t even bother asking a librarian what I should read next.

Public librarians today seem to act more like sentinels of dead-tree collections. They own the data, they tidy the shelves and care for the books but when they want a recommendation, they use or amazon like the rest of us. Knowledge is a handwave at the encyclopedias in the corner or the ancient pcs lined against the wall. As much as bookshops are suffering from their failed attempts to get into multimedia and from publishers not understanding how people buy books, their staff are still typically enthusiastic, informed book-lovers, able to make a recommendation professionally rather than only knowing the authors they’ve read.

This is a generalisation of course, but it is at least anecdotally true. My region’s library website is and despite knowing which books I get out, my wife gets and what we get for our son, it makes no recommendations. Just like its meatspace equivalent.

The conversation of ‘readme’

It used to be that when I found an article that was too long to read there and then, I would add it to delicious, tag it as ‘readme’, and hope that one day I would get around to it.

These days I just click my Kindlebility bookmarklet and read the article next time I’m on the bus or train, but still get value out of the articles that other people are posting to delicious. Am I doing them a disservice by not posting things I think are interesting enough to read? What social obligation am I under to reciprocate in this loose-form network? Why does it worry me? Should I learn to let go, or should I write code to free me from this tyranny?