A fusion of my two passions: Natural Science and Information Science

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How’s your mating dance?

As I’ve mentioned, although I love library science, I go mad for zoology. I’ve long studied interactions at the club through my “anthropologist eyes,” but I never was brave enough to publish! I love the new study published in Biology Letters that examines male dancing and concludes that it may be a good indicator of general health and reproductive potential. Boy howdy, can you say that again: this BBC article wraps up the salient points nicely, but here’s a reference to the original work, although at this point it has only been published online and is in a subscription based publication:

Neave, N., McCarty, K., Freynik, J., Caplan, N., Hönekopp, J., & Fink, B. (2010). Male dance moves that catch a woman’s eye. Biology Letters. doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.0619

On an interesting and related note, you all may remember the dancing bird craze that originated from videos on Youtube. Well, I’ll admit to missing out on this the first time around, but it makes me so happy that these dancing bird videos came to the attention of scientists, which eventually resulted in an empirical study.

Patel, A. D., Iversen, J. R., Bregman, M. R., & Schulz, I. (2009). Experimental Evidence for Synchronization to a Musical Beat in a Nonhuman Animal. Current Biology, 19(10), 827-830.

Above is a video I found on Youtube that may be the bird from the study–Snowball–but even if it isn’t, you’ll get the general idea. Although Snowball is great, I actually got into this madness through dubstep bird, and this animal completely AMAZES me. If you’ve ever seen young men dancing to dubstep, you’ll see that this bird is dead-on, and I love its break down moves ~ very nice. I just can’t help but be totally fascinated by this behavior, and it might break my heart if this video is a hoax:

The world is so wonderful!

The post crunch blues

Last semester I would work 14-18 hour days consistently between my job and the heavy course load that I took. I was so good about getting things done because there simply was no other option: work, work, work, or be fired and/or fail. However, suddenly I find myself finished with that semester, and the time demands originating from work and school have now diminished significantly: WHY I AM NOT GETTING ANYTHING DONE?

I blame this on the post crunch blues. When you push yourself too hard for a sustained period of time, it can be really hard to be productive in the aftermath. I feel like a resentment builds up, and when your life goes back to normal, you just want to rest instead of consistently working at a manageable level. This leads to a build up of work, which leads to what I call procrastinator’s inspiration, which begins the cycle anew.

I figure there may be a few people out there who are similarly suffering from the effect of a flurry of activity to meet deadlines, and I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone. Don’t let the post crunch blues get you down.

Unidentified flower, Northern California Coast, P. Buguey

Egg on Its Interface

First and foremost, please let me report that this witty title is not mine, and is instead the creation of Steve Kolowich, of Inside Higher ED. He wrote and excellent article that can be accessed by clicking here about librarian complaints concerning JSTOR’s new interface. In essence librarians are mad because as a default JSTOR allows users to search the entire collection, NOT the JSTOR collection that the particular library has specific access to, which means that users may see many articles that they won’t have access to unless they pay a fee. Librarians suggest that researchers may be duped into paying extra money for articles, but I think this is strange. Researchers should know how to use their library, and if they don’t, they should hopefully ask a librarian. As a former scientific researcher, I would rather see all the relevant articles because I could always request the article via ILL, and even if for some strange reason that wouldn’t work, if the article is important enough, I may have wanted to use my grant monies to purchase it. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted relevant information denied to me just because my library couldn’t afford the subscription. This seems ludicrous, not to mention that users can select to search only within what their library has access to; it’s just a default people, and I think a good one at that.

The only really messed up thing is that there are no OpenURL options, which allow libraries to direct researchers to another resource that does provide access to that article. Now that is messed up, especially since JSTOR is nonprofit; what on earth could be the reasoning behind that? Here is where I can clearly see the egg.

The death of the book and the beauty of the Universe

When deciding what to write about this week, I considered writing an impassioned speech on my opinion about “the death of the book” controversy, but ultimately I decided against it because as much as I love books, what I really love is information. Instead of rattling off statistics, trends, and portents (although this article is great for such), I’d rather focus on the heart of the thing: information. I understand that here in this library crowd the book is a beloved and central concept, but when I think of all the things in this world that I want to put my energy into, arguing whether or not the book will “live” is not high on the list.

Organisms thrive on information, and humans are so special because we took information production and processing to an entirely new level. Books are a beautiful representation of our (seemingly) unique ability to capture and store information, and I can see how in comparison, digital options may feel ephemeral. Nevertheless, imagine how people felt when paper-based archiving replaced the tablet; the practical science of information is changing, and I think we as a profession embrace that fact. Whatever this may mean for the book, let’s focus on the good. For instance, did you know that bacteria had a sense of smell; did you know that there is a supercomputing network that performs intensive data analysis on bird migrations (ebird); did you know scientists captured data demonstrating a wire oscillating and not oscillating at the same time (measuring a quantum effect in macroscopic matter)? There is so much beauty in this Universe, and I so fervently wish we would all spend more of our time focused on it.

Cheating

I feel as though I should start by saying that this post has nothing to do with anyone in LIBR 203, and it is just a record of my own musings.

I wonder how many overachievers have battled with cheating. I imagine most people have considered if not succumbed to the temptation, but once you come face to face with the potential consequences, it becomes so clear that it is never, EVER worth it. Ever. Whether it’s a 3rd grade math test or your employees’ retirements, cheating is cheating, and if you’re caught, you will regret it. And even if you’re not caught, you should still regret it. It makes me so sad; I wish I could save people this pain. I work in so many different educational environments that I’m relatively lucky to confront cheating so infrequently, but when I do, it breaks my heart.

I have learned to take great comfort in the fact that you can never do more than YOUR best, and after that point, you can simply let go. I so sincerely wish that everyone could take solace in this fact.

Who owns your information?

If you don’t know about the “Net Neutrality” controversy, I encourage you to learn, especially if you are an aspiring information professional. I have many concerns about information and who “owns” it and has a right to decide who can access it, but this literally terrifies me. If you’re unhappy about the way television has gone as a source of information, you must inform yourself about the potential future risks to the Internet. Although this article has an obvious bias, I recommend it all the same because I feel it makes some critical points:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/08/05/franken.net.neutrality/index.html

However, in all fairness I should post an opposing opinion, although I find this argument ludicrous. We’ve all seen in alarming detail what unregulated capitalism does to the state.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/g/a/2010/08/05/businessinsider-net-neutrality-2010-8.DTL

It’s OK

“Comparing ourselves to one another is one of the ugliest things humans do.” –Iyanla Vanzant

I’m having a pretty busy semester. I’m taking two courses (Ellett’s cataloging and Somerville’s research methods), doing a 3-credit internship, serving as a Peer Mentor, working part-time, and trying to have some semblance of a personal life. Did I write this to impress you, scare you, flabbergast you: NO!

I specifically do not want you to compare yourself to me; I wrote this because I want to take a moment from my busy life to say it’s OK to be busy. It is equally OK to be not busy (I have spent much more of my SLIS career in this relative state). The key is to not compare yourself to others. In this world of online learning where you have access to archived data about your peers–such as how much they’re doing and how fast they’re doing it–you may at first want to compare. Examples: “Oh no, I posted later than her,” or “Ha, I posted more than him.” I encourage you not to do so. Instead, let yourself learn from your peers. Every moment is an opportunity for growth, but each person has their own process, their own commitments, and their own choice.

beach