For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
March 6, 2008 - Real Men Aim for Maximum Gadgetude
I believe I know what most red-blooded American men want. It's not what you think.
And it isn't easy. There are many obstacles to be overcome to achieve the ultimate aim of maximum gadgetude.
First came my need for a computer. My first PC (a Kaypro II) was called "portable," in exactly the same way a sewing machine is portable. It folded up to a compact package weighing about 30 pounds.
I was, I now realize, obsessive. I didn't just go in and buy one. I researched countless magazines. I prowled computer stores. And because, back then, I was just starting out in life, I had to take out my first loan. For a gadget.
The next gadget that obsessed me was years later. I bought the second model of the Palm Pilot, which ran on two little batteries. It took me six weeks of use to cram my life into its modest dimensions.
Since then, I've upgraded twice. It's painful, when you realize that you have the oldest model in the meeting. The displays, the speed, the apps, are so much better these days. And that's bound to make you more productive, right?
A PocketPC? Please, I have my standards.
As time went on, I felt new stirrings. First, it was a laptop, although I persuaded myself that it was for my wife. Oh, the beauty of a MacBook!
When I tired of carrying a laptop around in my travels, I hit on a new strategy: an Internet Tablet. I settled on the Linux-based Nokia N800. And it was almost perfect, needing only an Igo Stowaway Bluetooth Keyboard to complete me as a man. For a while.
(Or, of course, there's the N810.)
I watched in amusement and sympathy as the drive for maximum gadgetude took root in my son, Max. He needed an iPod Touch. He needed it so bad. His latent research skills (he is the child of two librarians, after all) wakened: he read every review, in paper and online. He was on a first name basis with the good people at the Apple Store, where he made biweekly pilgrimages.
Then, there was wii -- what passes for physical exercise these days, albeit in a virtual universe.
Just lately, my wife ran across an ad for something so brilliant I wish I'd thought of it first. It's called a MusicPad Pro. For just $899, you can have an electronic book capable of storing, displaying, and allowing notations on, all your sheet music. Pop it up on the piano or music stand, tap a button to turn the page. One device, tens of thousands of works.
I gotta have one. I gotta.
The Sony eBook: I felt pretty cool sitting there on the plane with 8 novels packed into a slim and elegant case. Until the flight attendant told me I had to turn off my book for landing.
So I was forced to pull out a science fiction magazine, picked up from one of our library booksales for pennies. And I thought, as I flipped through it, handled it, sniffed it, read it comfortably, then left it behind in my hotel room later for the next person... you know, this print stuff?
It might catch on.