Monthly Archives: November 2008

Earnings, the Masters degree and JESSE

Library Journal released it’s annual salary survey for graduates from ALA-accredited programs and there was the usual mixture of trumpeting and excuses. Regional differences explain most of the variance but of course JESSE was used, as always, as a vehicle for self-aggrandizement from some quarters. San Jose claimed great success but in so doing annoyed Michigan by claiming the wrong tuition rates, resulting in a public airing of indignation and so it goes. The data come from recent grads of all the programs, most of whom (in my experience) just don’t complete the survey. For grads who don’t end up working in libraries, the motivation to complete the LJ survey is hard to assess but I know from our program that returns are low. Since it is often the folks going into these other careers who earn the largest salaries, the resulting data set is limited in value.

The bigger problem here is the continual ranking push that has LIS programs shouting from the rooftops about their ‘rank’ (no matter the scale, the method, or the lack of established correlation between any measure of rank and real program quality). And on top of this, US NEWS has just circulated a survey ranking all LIS programs in which people get to rank their own program! JESSE has become a vehicle for telling everyone else in the tiny community just how important you are, how connected you are or how some minor award given by your friends is really an index of your excellence- all submitted under the pretense that you are just sharing info. The rest of the time it’s an excuse for the true believers, the self-selected protection squad to find some trumped up reason to berate the infliltrators (info-traitors?) from the dark side. Real, substantive discussion among educators has taken a back seat to the shrill shouting. Where are you, Jesse Shera, when we need you most?

Just how much spam is there?

I learned today that at our university, the Ironport spam protection software actually blocks 97% of incoming mail to UT. Can you fathom that? More than 9 out of 10 mail messages are blocked before you even see them? Apparently the take down last month of the infamous Herbal King spam servers reduced net traffic across the globe by 3% alone. Iron Port itself claims 91% of all email messages on any given day are spam! Unintended consequences of technology, you say? Google to the rescue (not) but they have produced a calculator to let you know how much spam is costing your organization:, which of course is part of a promotion to tell you how quickly you could recoup the cost of purchasing a package from them…’s all a bit sinister, no?

Obama loves his blackberry

According to today’s NYT, Obama will be the first president to have a laptop in his White House office. Could this be true? He’s giving up his Blackberry for security reasons and apparently this is going to be a major hardship, proof that he’s as human as the rest of us who are tethered to email. I am not convinced I am more productive with a pda, but accept that there is a certain peace of mind that comes from being able to stay on top of email when moving about the world. Downtime though almost never exists, which proves again that email is not really about mail at all….it’s a time and process management tool that spreads influence and control as much as communication about the world. For all this, there is something amazing that happens when you manage to wean yourself off for a couple of days. You start not to miss it too much and when you return, you get a better picture of just how much of it is unnecessary. There needs to be an index for this which we can apply to info-work.