Sunday, January 16, 2005

"I'm your biggest fan!"

Day Three:

Okay, I admit it. I'm a total geek. I spent the morning wandering around the vendor exhibits looking for companies whose products I've used at the library and telling their amused representatives how awesome I think they are.

I know - sad, isn't it? But at least that way I can make small talk while I raid their booths for free stuff...

Good news! One of the OCLC people told me that they'd be web-streaming their lecture about gaming and technological literacy in a few weeks. We truly live in an age of miracle and wonder.

Tomorrow's the Technology Showcase. Assuming I can dig the car out of the snow early enough in the morning, I'm planning to go and check out all the new and shiny stuff that'll put us all out of work within the next five to ten years. True story: I had stopped by one of the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) vendor booths yesterday and made a joking comment about how it was going to eliminate my job and all of a sudden the rep I'd been talking to and her two colleagues went into total crisis mode, insisting that RFID was all about "freeing me up to do the more important work" and not about layoffs at the Circulation Desk.

Yikes! Defensive much?

Truth is, I'm less concerned with RFID decimating the circ staff - let's face it, checking books in and out is menial labor and a recipe for future repetitive stress injury to boot (I enjoy my time at Widener but that has little to do with the scanning and stamping!)- than I am worried about the technology's potential for abuse when it comes to patron privacy. Of course this is a general concern of RFID, and not just something restricted to libraries. Last July's issue of Wired has a fairly good assessment of RFID's promises and pitfalls, and even addresses the lingering fear that it might just be the Mark of the Beast as promised in the Book of Revelation.

Now that's what I should have asked the vendor about!

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