What is our value?

I have to say that I enjoyed Peter Bromberg's talk on Thursday night. He's an engaging public speaker, so that certainly helped, but more importantly to me, he made a number of interesting points. I usually find lectures or talks to be boring, and also not always germane to the actual predetermined topic. (I went to a lecture just a few months ago that was supposed to be about how not to read a million books and it turned out to be a history and a demonstration of the test version of some kind of advanced search interface...nothing about reading books, really, at all.) Peter's talk was about value, essentially: what is the value of libraries in particular. While I found his points on value great, one of the really gripping points that he made was when he spoke about the "Exponential Nature of Change." This really struck me. Thinking of how the length of time between life- and society-changing advances in science and technology is shrinking made me wonder a lot about how far this can go. Will there ever be a time when these kinds of changes occur every day? How will we all keep up? How will the libraries remain in the loop and at the forefront of such a rapidly changing environment? These are all valid questions that I don't know I would have thought to ask on my own, not having any big-picture understanding of this concept. When Peter made the brief comparison between his father and grandfather, saying that his grandfather's life was pretty much the same as many of the generations preceding him, but that his father saw an enormous amount of culture, life, and world-changing upheaval in his life was a staggering thought. What kinds of changes are in store in my life, and that of my family? Nothing is the same now as it was when my parents were my age. Things are barely the same now as they were 10 years ago! The speed with which we deem what we know as insufficient, and the speed with which we adapt to something new says a lot about where we are as a society--impatient, inconstant, obssessed with the new, and seemingly ungrateful for what we have already. Louis CK on Conan was a brilliant clip and absolutely hilarious (I've been really waiting to call someone a "noncontributing zero" since Thursday, but thankfully, I guess, I don't really know any. I'll find someone. In the meantime, the clip is below.), but it was a little sad, too. Things ARE amazing, when you think about it, and people still find things to gripe about.

I would have to say that I liked the beginning of the talk a little better than the end. For some reason, and I am probably way off base here, but the end, when Peter talked about how the principles of improv can apply to running a successful, valuable library in light of the exponential nature of change, it felt a little self-helpy. However, I understand the point Peter was trying to make, and I liked the idea of such principles as never negating and letting go of our fear of failure coming into play in my future work, as well as my life in general. Fearing failure, to me, is huge, but that's just me. I do fear failure, probably more than other people, and it cripples my actions sometimes. In the workplace, especially a library that needs to keep up with the times and cater to a wide variety of patrons, fearing that a new, innovative program is going to bomb spectacularly shouldn't stop you from trying it because maybe it will be a great success on account of its uniqueness. And if not, you take the hit and learn from it; there is nothing that can't teach us something. I enjoyed this part of the talk as well.

In the end, I enjoyed Peter's talk. It went a little late, but that's not really relevant. One thing that I enjoyed as a result of attending this talk was that I was able to sit and have dinner with several of the other ladies in our class (my group and one other). We chatted during dinner about school and about other things, and it was really nice. It was great to get a chance to chat with some other people in our class. Usually it's just my group and a couple of other guys who are always the ones that never got the emails cancelling class until we were all sitting in the lab that I talk to. This was a really welcome change.

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