cycles

[with gratitude to The Decemberists for the inspiration.]

Here we come to a turning of the season, witness to the arc towards the sun
A neighbor’s blessed burden within reason, becomes a burden borne of all in one

At our library coffee break today, David asked who had birthdays in January. I raised the hand that wasn’t busy cutting a slice of chocolate cardamon cake, and said, “Next week.” I thought, grimly, “36.”

And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,
Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all!

45 minutes later I was sitting in our small conference room with the Personnel Responsibilities Committee discussing a job description for a Discovery Metadata Librarian, and we were bouncing back and forth on “do we need a broad-reaching discovery layer, or do we need to intentionally locally catalog the stuff in Hathi that we’re discarding in print?” And I said, with a laugh, “We’re right back where we were 9 years ago when I was hired here, and charged with deciding whether or not we should catalog e-resources or buy a federated search product. Right back, a decade later.” Inside, I was whimpering a little.

A monument to build beneath the arbors, upon a plinth that towers t’wards the trees
Let every vessel pitching hard to starboard lay its head on summer’s freckled knees

A few days ago Justin read to me from a news site that ICANN is finally accepting applications for new gTLDs. We talked about it for a minute, and I told him about the paper I wrote in grad school on ICANN governance and the tensions between a global information infrastructure and the US government (and military) interests in control of the DNS servers and processes, and the debate raging at the time over the idea of .xxx. “It’s all come full circle,” I said. I wondered if I should revisit that paper and draft it into a “10 years later…” article. Then I acknowledged that I wrote that paper to avoid getting an incomplete from Dr. Eschenfelder because I had missed too many seminar sessions, and I’m not actually any better at time management now, and I’m far busier, so… I shelved the idea for now. Maybe in 10 years.

And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,
Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all!

Today a broad swath of the internet is blacked out, censor-boxed, or protest-labeled over SOPA and PIPA. I agree: It’s terrible legislation which moves our national information policy and infrastructure in the absolute wrong direction, written and influenced by people and organizations and corporations who are reacting out of fear and defensiveness about processes and technologies which they barely understand and cannot adapt to. It’s the wrong thing. It’s a bad path. Contact your congressfolk.

A there a wreath of trillium and ivy, laid upon the body of a boy
Lazy will the loam come from its hiding and return this quiet searcher to the soil

All I can think as I look at all of this is that life is made of cycles. “You rise to me and I’ll blow you down”, The Decemberists say in one song. “Don’t carry it all” they say in another.  We agonize over how to access information. We debate issues unresolved about our information infrastructure. Forces that don’t understand the issues fully push on us, over and over again. And then we get a year older.

So raise a glass to turnings of the season
And watch it as it arcs towards the sun
And you must bear your neighbor’s burden within reason
And your labors will be born when all is done

And, because we know that the fight’s worth it, that the groundwork we lay during this cycle will support us through the next one,  because each year brings us a little more wisdom, and because we know we’re not alone in any of our battles,  we keep fucking fighting.

And nobody, nobody knows
Let the yoke fall from our shoulders,
Don’t carry it all, don’t carry it all
We are all our hands and holders
Beneath this bold and brilliant sun
And this I swear to all!

And this I swear to all.

 

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