…a mass of incandescent gas…

I was ego-surfing, as one does, and, well…

Also considering registration for the pre-conference workshop, Introduction to Python. Co-taught by Andromeda Yelton, the Unglue.it librarian! Holy hell! I am starstruck.

The Global Librarian

I’ve been starstruck. Still am, sometimes.

I was a babybrarian three years ago — only three! A library school student at my first conference, full of these stories of Important Names In The Field I’d read about or heard guest Skype talks from in school. And then one of them bought me a drink (starstruck) and I ended up coauthoring something with another and now they’re people I run into at conferences, not names but people, hi, how’s it going, what’s up with you these days. Sometimes I can’t quite believe my life works out this way.

Here’s the thing: we see the director’s cut of everyone else’s life, and the behind-the-scenes footage of our own. I have strengths and weaknesses, just like everyone has strengths and weaknesses, you know? And I have nights when I look at the pile of dishes that need to be done and the pile of emails that need to be sent and I say, you know what, screw it, I’m going to light some candles and pour some bourbon and read a trashy novel. The responsible capable endlessly-energetic directors-cut star in someone’s head never does that; she washes the dishes and sends the emails and reads a thought-provoking, life-improving book, and probably then gets six hours of sleep (which she thrives on) and wakes up early to ride the exercise bike, and moreover is not letting her six-year-old play video games right now so she can write this blog post. But I am not her. In fact I think tonight will be a candles-and-bourbon-and-trashy-novel kind of night. (Sorry if I owe you an email.)

Strengths and weaknesses.

So, okay, here’s a thing about that. One of my strengths is an obsession with gaining XP and leveling up, plowing those experience points into my weaknesses until they aren’t weaknesses any more. (Do too much of this and you really need the candles and bourbon and trashy novels…)

Like a lot of people my first introduction to roleplaying was D&D, and, really, doesn’t everyone have some times they just want to strap on the Sword of +5 Mysticalness and stomp around a dungeon killing some hapless kobolds? But I find that whole model increasingly unsatisfying because in real life — even in the real lives of people who have a 16 Comeliness and spellcasting ability — most of the problems we encounter aren’t the kind that can be solved with swords, and killing things isn’t the way we get XP.

These days I’m in a Dungeon World campaign.[ref]The GM of which, by the way, wrote this gorgeous fertility tracking app. So if you have an iPhone and a girlbody and you want to get pregnant, or maybe not get pregnant, or you’re into the whole quantified-self thing, et cetera, go check that out.[/ref] The world has a D&D flavor but the system is far more lightweight, driven by storytelling rather than pages of rules. You roll dice when rolling dice would make the story more fun. And either you win, and the thing you want more or less happens, or you lose, and that’s when you get XP.

In the real world, we get XP by going out there and trying things. Taking a risk because, win or lose, it makes the story more fun.

A couple days ago I found out about Fake Grimlock[ref]How had I not known this was a thing?!?[/ref] — he’s a giant robot dinosaur with fantastic advice about startups and, by analogy, life — and there’s this one essay with this one quote I really can’t get out of my head, on how to be awesome:


Stars burn with fire that make everyone warm.[ref]See also.[/ref]

This library profession, it’s full of still-waters-run-deep types. They may not talk a lot up front about what they’re doing, they may not be at a big-name institution, but you ask some questions and listen for a while and it turns out they’re doing something totally badass. Or they have this great idea or skill or passion but only half of what they need to make it real, and you introduce them to a person who has the other half, and — fire.

We are all star-stuff.

Global Librarian, I’d love to see you at ALA. (Kazakhstan! You moved to Kazakhstan for your librarianing. How cool is that?!)

4 thoughts on “…a mass of incandescent gas…

  1. My Mr. was just talking about Dungeon World yesterday! I like the idea of gaining XP only when you fail. That’s kind of neat. And sort of how life works.


    1. *g* Yeah, I’m totally into the storytelling-oriented systems nowadays. It’s nice to have the D&D flavor (there are bards and rogues and stuff), but I don’t wanna memorize a whole bunch of rules before I can play.

      Technically that’s not the only situation where you gain XP, but it’s the biggest one. (The others are fascinatingly collaborative — at the end of session you agree as a party whether you’ve met certain conditions or not, and assign yourselves XP accordingly.)


  2. Hey! I’ll def be at ALA, 95% sure the Intro to Python workshop.

    I’m so interested to hear more about Unglue.it – at my job at NU in Kazakhstan, we’ve hit so many paywalls it’s crazy (no consortia, so everything is wildly expensive). I *love* alternative publishing models, and I’m so excited to see if Unglue.it and similar things can encourage the bigger publishers to open their hearts a little bit when it comes to e-books.

    See you at ALA!


    1. Woot!

      We’ve got about a hundred titles from De Gruyter on the site right now, and we’ll be running campaigns for the most popular, so add some to your wishlist & tell your friends 🙂 We have no idea what’s most useful in Kazakhstan but you do, so we need the feedback!


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