The quick answer is JD. It’s not WWJD in the traditional sense, but what JD did (WJDD). She contacted me by e-mail the last time I was at Internet Librarian. She wanted to meet me between sessions by the registration booth. Important, wrote JD. I have encountered such messages before, usually from angry people who wanted a power display. Someone convinced me that, no — librarians are not like that. They like to find out what is not working and tinker with ways to satisfy patrons. That seemed plausible. “I bet she likes your blog entries about IL,” the person insisted. The flattery gave me pause. Maybe JD would bestow on me some leadership role, given my helpful commentary over the years. Maybe she would give me the secret handshake as DF had received in the mythic past outside a shady bar in Asilomar. I had been writing blog entries at several IL conferences, and even delivered a paper at one. No one would call me a cheerleader for the topics and presentations at IL. However, I was not throwing acid in people’s faces either.
I expected some better, more thoughtful presentations at IL, and said so. That was the problem for JD. When we met, it showed in the storm clouds forming between her eyebrows as I approached to meet her for the first time. She opened with, “Why do you hate this conference?” You can imagine the rest. Wishing something were better is far from hating that something, though the two realms are not mutually exclusive, so her question was not completely implausible. It was the old power play, and once JD made clear her purpose, she decided to switch gears to cloak it all in an I’d-like-to-hear-from-you-how-to-improve-the-conference mode, all the while giving me a look that said, “I find you, like, insufferable.” Had the conversation started off differently, I might have believed the initial description that librarians want to fix things when someone has a complaint. JD wanted to voice her distaste for me in a clear effort to discourage what she perceived as potentially further negativity in TFP, and she remained utterly unconvinced (sent her a detailed message after our meeting suggesting, at her request, alterations to IL) that some changes in the conference format and presentation roster might turn a general (please note modifier) farce into something fantastic, a conference with a frisson that might be as bracing as a chilly Pacific Grove morning in October. While JD viewed the insider sycophancy at IL as something more than adequate, perhaps praiseworthy, I found the same set of circumstances the debilitating core of the conference. As anyone could see from our meeting at the IL registration booth, I was a scorned, nascent savior of Internet Librarian, and JD was the warped offspring of Cruella de Vil. Can’t it be that simple? Probably not.