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CODE4LIB  March 2016

CODE4LIB March 2016

Subject:

Re: reearch project about feeling stupid in professional communication

From:

Patricia Farnan <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Code for Libraries <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 22 Mar 2016 02:02:56 +0000

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*raises hand* my library doesn’t have an API *wahhhhh* ;)

Until recently-ish (last year or so), I didn't even know what an API was, despite having been subscribed to this group (and mostly in lurker mode) for quite some time now. Thankfully I did a short course through Library Juice Academy that explained it to me (it was a 'hallelujah!' moment). Doesn't mean I've been able to make any use of the APIs available to me through our various vendors, so far. And I sure as heck won't be building my own APIs anytime soon.

I did librarian studies, not IT studies - but I know a lot of IT people in libraries have basically taught themselves all that they know, without any formal training. I'm sure I could do that too, as I have taught myself other IT-ish skills in the past, e.g. html, some php, etc. But sometimes it is difficult to even know where to start, when you don't understand what you need to know.

As a mostly lurker type on this list, I can say that I don't understand a lot of what is discussed - but over time I make occasional connections and pick things up that I find interesting. So it's worth being on the list for me, even if I can't do much with what I'm reading about most of the time.

Patricia Farnan  | Application Administrator, Discovery Services
University Library  | St Teresa’s Library

Telephone: +61 8 9433 0707 | Email: [log in to unmask]


-----Original Message-----
From: Code for Libraries [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Julie Swierczek
Sent: Tuesday, 22 March 2016 3:33 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [CODE4LIB] reearch project about feeling stupid in professional communication

Just to clarify: I wasn't talking about this list only.  I am particularly interested in lists related to libraries/archives/museums and technology, but I am also interested in hearing other examples, and about how we have interpreted those examples.  (Tell me a story about it!)  I think that one of the things I'll present or write about are cases where it is not necessarily obvious that a person is belittled by a response.   That is, in reply to a question, a responder says one thing, but what the original questioner heard was "you are too stupid to play with us".

Some obvious flame wars involve accusations of stupidity, but I am especially interested in the much more subtle cases where readers might feel stupid even if that is not the author's intent.

One example that comes to mind is when a group announces that they are releasing a new open source project for institutions of "all sizes" to make it easier for libraries to do this fabulous thing.  So Person X, who is not completely inept with computers, goes to the project site and the instructions are something like this:

1. We are not going to tell you which server architecture this works on because you clearly should be smart enough to figure that out.
2. Download this package.
3. Compile the package.
4. Obviously there are 300 dependencies, but we are not going to tell you what they are. Any decent institution would have them installed already.
5. Change system configurations to serve local needs.  We're not going to tell you what that means or how to do it.
6. Use the API from your ILS to feed in this data. If your current API doesn't work, please write one according to the specs on some other project you've never heard of.  Note that the documentation of that other project hasn't been updated in eleven years, but you'll figure it out. What? Your library catalog doesn't have an API?!?!?!  You must be joking.  *Everyone* has an API.
7. Earn a PhD in computer science.
8. Change your entire server environment including reinstalling your ILS on some other platform, breaking everything and requiring tens of thousands of dollars in development work to put all the pieces back together again.
9. Type the following commands in the command line.  Note that they look like a SHA-256 hash, but they are actually really simple commands that everyone should know.
10. Voila!  it works.
addendum: We did not include any help instructions. You can just read the code if you need to figure something out.

The group offering the program probably does not intend for their directions to come across this way, but that is what sometimes happens, and Person X now feels like an idiot and doesn't want to participate anymore.

So, I am looking for something more subtle here than the obvious mudslinging you can find in most tech forums.  As to the question of whether that happens here or not, I would generally say no, except that I - and most likely all readers here - have not read every single message of the list archives, word for word, so something could have passed our notice.  There have most likely been multiple instances where someone asked a question in a way that would indicate that the person is new at this, and the answer was much more technically sophisticated than the level of the question. I am sure examples abound.

I don't want to take up more space on the list talking about this, so please feel free to contact me off-list at [log in to unmask]  Thank you.

Julie
IMPORTANT: This e-mail and any attachments may be confidential. If you are not the intended recipient you should not disclose, copy, disseminate or otherwise use the information contained in it. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by return e-mail and delete or destroy the document. Confidential and legal privilege are not waived or lost by reason of mistaken delivery to you. The University of Notre Dame Australia is not responsible for any changes made to a document other than those made by the University. Before opening or using attachments please check them for viruses and defects. Our liability is limited to re-supplying any affected attachments.

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