Is This Big Data Which I See Before Me? Introduction

One of the few things I can say in favor of my wreck of a librarian career is that it left me pragmatically fearless. I do sometimes bite hands that feed me, if I think the bite bids fair to improve something important. It’s fair to say, though, that I only bite where I trust the bitten party to hear me honestly and behave toward me in the same good faith with which I bite. Where I can’t trust that, I don’t speak, much less bite.

(“Why haven’t you spoken at the Charleston Conference?” I occasionally hear. Well… aside from never having been asked to, that’s why. I do not trust that conference or many of its attendees to behave gracefully when they hear sharp critique.)

This particular presentation bit OCLC pretty hard, despite OCLC sponsoring the symposium at which it took place, at Northwestern University in May 2013. I thought then, and still think, that some elements of the organization needed their noses rubbed in some pungent problems (just to continue the canine metaphor). To OCLC’s credit, its representatives at the event took my toothy grin in good part.