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CODE4LIB  November 2012

CODE4LIB November 2012

Subject:

Re: What is a "coder"?

From:

Jonathan Rochkind <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 29 Nov 2012 14:25:33 +0000

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text/plain

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text/plain (38 lines)

I think that _everyone_ who finds our topics and discussions interesting and useful is welcome at the conference, on the listserv, in IRC, etc. 

However, at the same time, I will confess that I personally find the proliferation of archival/repository topics at the conference dissapointing.  I feel like there are many many venues for discussing "institutional repositories" and digital archiving.  Many other venues (journals, conferences, listservs, organizations) that purport to be about library technology in general or "digital libraries" really end up being focused almost exclusively on archival/repository matters.  When I first found code4lib, what was exciting to me is that finally there was a venue for people discussing and trying to DO technological innovation in actual 'ordinary' library user services, in helping our patrons do all the things that libraries have traditionally tried to help them do, and which need an upgraded tech infrastructure to continue helping them do in the 21st century.  

But that's just me.  I don't think there's _anyone_ that's interested in drawing lines around _who_ can participate in 'code4lib'. 

But I think almost _everyone_ has an interest in _what_ the topics and discussions at code4lib are.  Because that's what makes it code4lib, there's already a web4lib listserv, there's already a D-Lib Magazine, there's already DLF gatherings, there's already LITA, etc -- those who are fans of code4lib like it because of something unique about it, and want it to change in some ways and not in other ways. And we probably don't all agree on those ways. But it would be disingenous to pretend that everyone in code4lib has no opinion about what sorts of topics and discussions should take place at confs or on the listserv etc. 

But I've still never seen anyone say that any person or type of person is unwelcome!  Yeah, there is some tension here, becuase of course what ends up creating the "what", but the "who" who are there?    

I am not afraid to say that code4lib would not be able to remain code4lib unless the _majority_ of participants were "coders", broadly understood (writing HTML is writing code, writing anything to be interpreted by a computer is writing code).  But either that will happen or it won't, there's no way to force it. 

(And personally, I'm not afraid to say that code4lib would not be able to remian code4lib for ME, if the _majority_ of participants become people who work mostly on "digital repository" or "archival" areas, as is true of so many other "library technology" venues.) 
________________________________________
From: Code for Libraries [[log in to unmask]] on behalf of Christie Peterson [[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:13 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] What is a "coder"?

I think my tweet yesterday may have been partially responsible for raising this question in Mark's mind. I wrote: "Debating registering for c4l since I'll be getting -- at most -- 50% reimbursement for costs &, well, I'm not a coder. Thoughts?" When I wrote this, I was using "coder" in the sense that Jonathan used it: "A coder is someone who writes code, naturally. :)" and also in the sense that Henry mentioned: sysadmin types who do a minimal amount of literal coding but self-identify as technologists.

I profess to be neither, yet many of the topics on this year's lineup are directly relevant to my work. My professional identity is, first, as an archivist. This belies a lot of tech-heavy activities that I'm involved with, however: management of born-digital materials, digital preservation, designing/building a digital repository, metadata management, interface design, process improvement and probably a few other things that just don't happen to be what I'm thinking about at this particular moment.

So although I'm not a "coder" in the sense that I defined above, it's essential for my work that I understand a lot about the technical work of libraries and that I can communicate and collaborate with the true "coders". As my tweet hinted at, this puts me in an odd place in terms of library financial support for attendance at technology-focused conferences. While the "coders" I work with (hi guys!) get fully funded to attend code4lib and similar conferences, I don't.

If this were "training" in the sense of a seminar or a formal class on the exact same topics, I would be eligible for full funding, but since it's a "conference," it's funded at a significantly lower level. I'll gladly take suggestions anyone has for arguments about why attendance at these types of events is critical to successfully doing my work in a way that, say, attending ALA isn't -- and why, therefore, they should be supported at a higher funding rate than typical "library" conferences. Any non-coders successfully made this argument before?

Cheers,

Christie S. Peterson
Records Management Archivist
Johns Hopkins University
The Sheridan Libraries
4300 N. Charles Street
Baltimore, MD 21218
410.516.5898
Fax 410.516.7202
[log in to unmask]

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