New Orleans is much as I expected it to be at this time of year, sweltering and miserable outside, the only comforts being a semi-air conditioned tavern and a cold martini.
I say “semi” because anything else is intolerable. New Orleaners, if that’s what they’re called, seem to compensate for the ridiculously hot temperatures outside by creating ridiculously cold temperatures inside, so if you dress for the one you are bound to be very uncomfortable in the other.
I would Tweet that, but Twitter doesn’t allow for complex sentences or, based on reviewing the ALA tweets, complex thoughts.
At least that’s my impression after reading through numerous tweets about #ala11, which mostly seems to consist of the shallow talking to the bored, or perhaps vice versa.
It’s difficult to tell if the majority of Twitter users are just shallow and boring extroverts, or whether the limitations of Twitter means that people who aren’t always shallow and boring can only show that side of themselves, and feel compelled to.
There are clever, witty people who use Twitter. Most of the people commenting on #ala11 are not those people.
Nevertheless, I waded into the trough so you don’t have to. One person had to tweet that she was “Weighted down with swag.” Swag seems a popular item to accumulate from the exhibit hall. You might think swag was something valuable, but it usually consists in cheap pens, posters advertising things, the occasionally squeeze ball or tote bag or sticky note pad advertising things, i.e. a bunch of junk.
That’s why it seems incredible to watch librarians waddling through the exhibit call carrying as much of this junk as they can, sometimes wheeling suitcases behind them full of the kind of stuff many of us would toss out of our offices during a good cleaning. I can only wonder what the exhibitors think of these sad representatives of the profession.
Someone else found it important to tell us that he was “”Headed back to the exhibits because the session I was at was boring and not what I expected it to be.” Of course it was boring. Most of the sessions are boring. You really don’t need to tell us that.
I did glean quips from sessions I didn’t even attend, since Twitter acts sort of like a really dumbed down version of Cliff’s Notes.
For example, I hear that “Fear keeps us from innovating.” I didn’t get the context, naturally, but the statement seems false on the face of it. Inertia and laziness and a total lack of ideas keep us from innovating.
Or there’s this quote from the “Seriously Social” session: “If you’re not doing social media, you’re not on the Internet.” Without some context, it’s hard not to think this should have been called the “Seriously Stupid” session. Oh well, another fanatic loose at ALA.
Another poor soul was having trouble with the Internet connection at the convention center, though I never had a problem. “Thanks to MCC’s network difficulty I can’t share my insights in real time. :(”
I would also have a frowny face at that, except that you can’t have insights in real time. What you can have are shallow observations without reflection. I’m pretty sure that doesn’t count as insight, so maybe we all, including the frowny-faced author, should be glad he couldn’t get on the Internet.
We also get keen political commentary, in short form: “Daniel Ellsberg is seeing significant parallels, on operational and political levels, between US wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan.” Let’s see, two prolonged wars against a guerrilla enemy that had never attacked the U.S., and who had previously successfully resisted occupation by aggressive European powers – wow, that Ellsberg sure sees something the rest of us couldn’t possibly see. Thanks for tweeting!
Another tells us that there are “Lots of interesting tweets coming out of #ala11 – thanks folks there and tweeting.” Yeah, sure there are.
There’s much more than tweeting going on at ALA. There’s also liveblogging!
But seriously, folks. There was a somewhat moving keynote speech by Dan Savage. As usual with ALA speakers, I’m not sure why Savage was invited, other than to make the liberal librarian crowd feel superior to bullying homophobes. I can do that without listening to a speech. Nevertheless, he was good.
Except for seeing relatively fewer enormous librarians wandering through the exhibits, the conference seems like usual. New librarians gaze about slightly bewildered. Librarians on the make seed bold sounding but unworkable ideas into gullible audiences.
However, the food is pretty good, the social life exhaustive for those of us with friends, and I found a nice quiet little bar that serves a decent martini and a better gin and tonic tucked away in the French Quarter. I’m not going to tell you what it is, though, because I don’t want libraran hoi polloi to show up AL-spotting. A gal needs her privacy.