Taking it Offline

This was a week of online encounters becoming offline ones. I had lunch with Heidi Hansen, a librarian from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was in Toronto for a few days, and Andy Piper suggested that we get together because we’re both interested in social networking. To give you an idea of how small the world is, we had never met our mutual friend face to face. Andy Piper had “met” her randomly through a blog post about Plazes, and I met Andy through IBM. He knew we were both interested in social computing, so he told us about each other. Great call. Over lunch at Green Mango (730 Yonge Street), Heidi and I chatted about wikis, blogs, technology adoption, life, and other wonderful things. I find that people in library and information sciences are just as techie as I am when it comes to social networking and information spaces, even though they’d never admit it. =) I enjoyed our conversation, and I’m thrilled to hear that she and her husband will be moving to Toronto, and that her husband is taking a postdoc at the University of Toronto. (Andy Piper blogged about it too.) I look forward to keeping in touch!

There’s something different about having a conversation with another blogger. Our online lives transform our off-line interactions. I had never met Heidi before, but a quick scan of her blog showed me that I was going to enjoy that conversation with her. And I did. There was no awkwardness, no shyness, not even a twinge of the asymmetry I feel when I talk to people who know a lot more about me than I do about them. In those asymmetric conversations, I feel I need to ask a lot of questions so that I can understand the other person as much as he or she understands me. When I talk to people who have rich online presences, I don’t feel that imbalance. We just slip right into easy conversation.

Another person I’d gotten to know through IBM blogs is Jonathan Feinberg, maker of Dogear (our enterprise social bookmarking system) and other systems that make my day-to-day life so much better. When I heard that he was flying into town for a gig (one night only!), I had to go and see this other side of him. He played drums for the launch of Michael Holt‘s new CD, “Windows,” held at The Music Gallery (197 John St.) Great venue. I knew it was a mistake leaving my camera behind. This mistake was confirmed when he took a break from the drums in order to put on a red clown nose for a hilarious act. Jon in a red clown nose! Worth it. After the show, we chatted about music and finding time to do what you love when you also have other priorities. Something worth thinking about.

Speaking of things to think about, I had brunch with Florina Xhabija at Eggstacy (1255 Bay St). I met Flo at a DemoCamp when she walked up to me and said that she liked my blog. I had a great conversation with her and other U of T students at the DemoCamp afterparty, and we caught up over brunch yesterday. We talked about psychology, gender roles in computer science, life decisions, social networking, and other things. She’s also a big fan of tea, so I might organize a tea party soon. I prefer to spend time at home, and this week’s been an anomaly in terms of going out. Still, that was a fun conversation, and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Work is going well. My second client project will be extended, and I’m thrilled to see that the guide I am making for them is starting to take hold. Next week is packed. I have a workshop on Monday and Friday, and a short term engagement during the other days of the week. I’m starting to see how I provide value, and my three upcoming events (two as speaker, one as organizer) will certainly stretch me.

Our plan for our trip to the Philippines is starting to take shape. We’re thinking of spending four days in Bohol, and if I’m really lucky, maybe I can convince my dad to go on a 4- or 5- day trip up to the Mountain Provinces. That should cover most of the sightseeing, and we can always leave things to do for next time.

My goals for next week are:

  • Do well in this hectic week of work.
  • Finish editing the second draft of the chapter on task management.
  • Finish 3/4 of the chapter on taking notes.
  • http://www.heidigoseek.com/ heidi

    I’m not afraid to admit that I’m techie! The aspect of social networking and information spaces actually interests me in more ways than traditional library work does. That’s why I sometimes call myself an information scientist and sometimes call myself a librarian. I think that the skills librarians have used for so long find and organize information are the same skills that we need to manage it in the digital environment today.

    A traditional library is really a user interface for the physical world. We try to design them to be ‘user friendly’, there’s even and element of discovery and browsability that we automatically value in hyperlinked media. They are indexed, labeled, and searchable. There’s even a ‘help’ section (in the way of the reference desk) if you are lost and you can’t find what you’re looking for. What modern librarians, like myself, do is transfer those ideas to digital environments.

    Thanks again for a great lunch and I’m sure we’ll see each other again!