Contact me

These days, I'm the director of the American Library Association' s Office for Intellectual Freedom. I'm also executive director and secretary of the Freedom to Read Foundation. See "About Me" for contact information.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Hacked?

So on Thursday, January 23, 2014, apparently the Great Firewall of China collapsed, and all the Internet traffic of the nation was sent to a single IP address in Cheyenne WY, which of course failed immediately - the most colossal failure of the Internet to date. It was down for 8 hours.

The very next day, Gmail, the email program of Google, arguably one of the most technologically sophisticated companies in the world, again, simply failed, although it was repaired far more quickly.

Explanations for both are pretty lame. Yeah, the Firewall made a routing error. Oops, there was a little software bug.

That seems like quite a coincidence. It looks more like a hackfest to me.

Welcome, all, to the new era of vulnerability. Our entire communications network, and all the business conducted on it, is held together by means of physical, and virtual connections far beyond my understanding or ability to secure. And when somebody messes with it, it's hard to know just who, or why.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

New website, old boots

My first few days of "retirement" seemed to involve me working harder than ever. But then, it was never "retirement." It was the Next Chapter.

One of my key projects was to update my website. I had to recast what wasn't much more than a set of bookmarks and CV files, to a presentation to the world about how I hope I might be able to help other libraries (and not just libraries) move forward. There are three ways: through speaking, through writing, and through consulting.

I have to say that I really don't like most of the websites I see. I find myself inclining toward a minimalist aesthetic in many areas of my new life. To me, that means an understanding that the most precious resource on our planet is attention. I really don't want to be shunted around 16 panels, 42 photos, 6 Flash videos, 4 Next Pages, and pop-ups. Who has the time?

After a whole lot of thought, I whittled jlarue.com down to 8 pages. That feels ... about right, especially since I can update the home page with some fresh content every week or so.

I started with a Kompozer (open source web editor) template called Simple Beauty. Everything was created from within Ubuntu LTS 12.04. The template had the right structure, but I didn't like (for this new website) the background or default font size. After a couple of tips from colleagues, I dived into the style.css file and changed some settings.

Then I went through about 8 iterations of tweaking each page (and I'm still not done with one of them, especially Testimonials). And of course, I kept finding typos, grammatical glitches, and so on.

I have to say that during the past few days I have awakened so excited that I was literally shaking. And so far, every day has delivered possibilities (of surprisingly interesting, and incidentally lucrative projects) I never imagined in my carefully articulated business plan.

Lesson? I guess it's this: PLAY. Open yourself to the universe and laugh when it delivers.

Oh, and about those boots. Some 37 years ago I was working as a truck driver (produce delivery). I bought a pair of fairly expensive work boots (no steel toe, but steel shank, Vibram soul, double-lined leather). The company that made them, Supreme, is (it seems) long gone. They offered a lifetime warranty - hard to deliver when they're not around anymore. But their boots continue to be awesome: warm, comfortable, just amazingly durable. (Could this be, one wonders, why they are no longer extant? They did their job too well - like a lightbulb factory whose bulbs never died.) Today, here in Colorado, it was a particularly cold morning. I put on my boots and brushed the snow off the walk. I found myself realizing that I have had, worn, and traveled in these boots longer than I have known almost any one else in my life. This is not just a pair of boots. It's a relationship.

And they are spectacularly green.

What, you may ask, is the connection between my website and my boots? Well! Umm. OK, here's the best I've got: it's good to be green.

Monday, January 20, 2014

LaRue 2.0

This is just a check-in.

[x] Wrap-up my job as Director of Douglas County Libraries.

While I don't claim to have resolved all issues, I think I worked through a good set of them. I left the organization in good shape, and stepped out at a time when the next director will have a chance to put his or her stamp on things. I loved my time at DCL, and am confident that the institution will continue to do well. There are so many smart and capable people there. But whether it does or not, I'm done as director, effective 18 January 2014.

[-] Start my new career.

I began by crafting a business plan. It's pretty solid, I think. And I've sent out the word. But there is much to be done.

- My website is old, and needs refocusing and refreshing. But I have spent a lot of time thinking about the services I can offer, the value I can add. I'm also having a lot of fun poking around the various templates and possibilities.
- My >1,000 contacts have been whittled down to something like current.
- My email contacts and email systems have been consolidated and tweaked.
- My workflow systems have been thoughtfully re-worked.

[ ] Respond to those who want to dance with me.

Amazing. Already, I've been contacted by people offering me all kinds of jobs that ... fall completely outside my business plan.There are three responses:

1. Take it! The market knows best.
2. Investigate it. Take a step into it to see if it's a good fit.
3. Reject it. Stay focused.

So where am I?

Just a day into "retirement," I find myself waking up with enthusiasm, curiosity, and eagerness. I am being contacted by people who are asking for (in many cases) things I never anticipated, but just might know how to deliver. I feel stretched, engaged, energized.

For those I have worked with: thank you.

For those I will work with: I so look forward to that.