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Showing posts from July, 2013

We are still evolving

I was having a discussion with a friend recently about the influence of genetics on mental gifts. I was saying that my grandmother used to track various talents through the family. So and so got the music, someone else got the math, and so on.

To my surprise, my friend said that genetics played no part in mental gifts, that there was no such thing as music or math gene. I tried to make it clear that I wasn't saying there was a single gene for either of these, but there were clusters of genetic predispositions that quickened interest and skills, and even attitudes. He maintained that it was all due to early experience and environment.

On reflection, it does still seem to me that such gifts run in families, and although environment surely plays a part, it doesn't seem like much of a stretch to say that genetics does, too. If genetics can affect a pancreas or heart, why couldn't it also influence a brain?

It interested me, so I've been doing some reading. Today I finished…

Freeing the hostage

Here ( is a piece I wrote for a cool new library site. It addresses the topic of how to have an honest, respectful conversation with someone who is holding your organization hostage -- undermining accomplishment and getting away with it. 
I learned this approach from a wise supervisor who used it on me. I was screwing up on my job, for reasons that do me no credit. In just 30 seconds, she snapped me out of it. And yet I never felt humiliated or mistreated (although I did feel ashamed). She just presented the facts, and gave me the dignity to decide.
I do a lot of talking and listening to librarians. I think this one thing -- the fear of confronting staff over performance issues -- really is the biggest internal factor holding libraries back. But it doesn't have to be a "confrontation." It can (and should) be brief, direct, and authentic.
The rest of the story: of the people I mention in the piece, all are gone now.…

Eqyptian tween

I've been looking at Reddit lately. The kid in this video is 12 years old, and may be one of the most articulate and incisive people I've ever heard. This is the kind of thing that gives one confidence in the future -- the Internet and native intelligence might lead to real and positive change.

Chrome extensions

When the Chromebook first came out, I didn't find the "live in a browser" idea very compelling. But I spent a little while today looking at a couple of things that may change my mind: extensions that operate as light, attractive, highly focused apps. After a while, I can see that it could be quite possible to live within Chrome's tabs, especially as the apps and data are portable across Windows, the Mac and Linux (but not, alas, the iPad, although I imagine this will change eventually).

First up: Do It (Tomorrow). Its user interface will make you laugh. Click to open the book and you get two pages: Today and Tomorrow. No categories, no priorities, no subtasks, no Getting-It-Donnybrooks.

You can choose between two typefaces. After you type in something to do, you have three options.
1. Click on it to draw a line through it.
2. Click on a little arrow to move it to Tomorrow.
3. Don't do anything. It stays on Today.

That's it!

I realize that such a extravagantly…

Governing Magazine piece

Here's the link - - to the piece. As I hastened to append in comments, the work at DCL is hardly mine. It's a team effort, involving a board that viewed the cost of doing nothing as the greatest risk of all, and a staff (Monique Sendze's IT team, and Rochelle Logan's collection, acquisition, and cataloging people) to pull it off.
But I'm pleased to see coverage of the concept beyond the library world.
Oh, and the Superman pose was the photographer's idea. I should have known better.