The Gift of Feedback

Internet Librarian 2012 attendees — you have exerted your power via social media. Your reactions to “Why I Am Not At Internet Librarian 2012” caused JD to send me an e-mail yesterday afternoon as I was preparing to have something coherent to say about Nicole Loraux’s The Divided City for the students in my night class. Unfortunately, I have not seen the discussions and interactions from those of you out in Monterey Bay because of said class preparation and then class itself. My pace is nowhere near the velocity of the Internet. Picture the tortoise and the hare, with the hare harnessed to a jet pack. In JD’s message to me, she mentioned early on a whirlwind of activity on FriendFeed. JD is paying attention to your voices. Judging by the statistics WordPress provides about TFP, I have no reason to doubt JD’s report about the capacity for your collective persuasiveness. Usually, I calculate the readership of TFP by the number of eyeballs that might have come across it, so that I can double the figure, maintaining the customary two eyes per person ratio.

image of South Park's ImaginationlandBefore passing along more about JD’s e-mail of yesterday, I feel obliged to report that I had not anticipated JD encountering my posting on TFP about our meeting at the 2011 Internet Librarian conference. TFP is available for almost anyone to see, but it’s only a relatively public space (remember those eyeballs). The IL audience for TFP has mainly been a consequence of the people of IL granting me “official blogger” status at several of the IL conferences, and since I am not attending the conference this year, I lack that official status and the link from the IL site that previously brought some of you in contact with TFP.

Back to the narrative. I have been preoccupied with Loraux’s book, not that anyone beyond my students should care about that, but it’s a segue. You’ll see. Loraux’s book concerns, in part, the national imaginary in ancient Athens, and that can serve as a minor theme here. Loraux is not a household name, so South Park’s episode on “Imaginationland” will serve the same function as invoking Loraux’s work. I am writing from a place where I have to imagine what is happening among some of the attendees of IL2012, and am about to ask you, dear readers, to imagine the content of JD’s e-mail message to me from yesterday afternoon, since that act of imagination will — the beans are about to be spilled, or, as the young people say, “Wait for it!” — likely result in a delightful surprise for the annals of human communication when you learn that JD was both gracious and disarming in her message. For instance, she signed her message “JD/Cruella.” Give her credit for a sense of humor. On a dark day, one might wonder about the seeming disjunction between the JD of the 2011 meeting and the JD of yesterday’s message, possibly concluding that a version of Ms. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde was at work. However, it’s not a dark day, especially when a group of people attending IL2012 express concerns and others listen. Thus it seems fitting to mirror the magnanimity of JD’s message, which includes the line: “I try to look at feedback as a gift.” All of you have given the gift of feedback. JD read what you wrote. That bodes well for turning Internet Librarian from a divided city into a space as comfortable as the Monterey Bay weather in October, a space where conflict is understood as constitutive of democratic life.


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