Kevin the Librarian
As anyone who reads my site knows, I have been quite °»down°… lately... surely unsatisfied. If you have been religiously reading, you also know that it is because I am unsatisfied with my job and basically not knowing where I should go from here (not necessarily meaning what job to go to next, but rather, in the big picture, how to I proceed to move forward?).
Well, I great thing happened. I had been having a conversation earlier where I described my current skill sets as only tools... being able to communicate in Japanese is for some people an goal... these people become translators, interpreters etc. I'm not saying they °»stop°… there —I would have to study for another ten years to reach that level— but only that it is not a goal for me. That is why I don't feel such a tremendous pressure to learn 2,000 more kanji.
The same is true for my CGI and database programming. I love doing it, and I love learning it and putting what I learn to practical use, just like the Japanese. But also like the Japanese, I don't feel the desire or need to become a complete programming geek. I had once (not too long ago) thought about going to school for computer science, but as interesting as it is, I think there are some things that are more important to me than being able to write my own operating system.
This is where I come to the °»tool°… conclusion. Japanese and programming are both skills I view as helpful tools, but not something I have to be a top authority on. If this is so, then what do I use these tools for?
It doesn't take a genius to see that both Japanese and Perl are languages... One is a human language the other a programming language. So what good are languages than to convey information? In that respect, graphic design is also a language of sorts. It is also obvious to people who see the majority of my work, that a great deal of it has to do with organizing, sorting, and retrieving data, hopefully for a useful purpose. I am at this very moment taking a break from making a web-based °»Work flow / production tracking°… application. My main interest with more front-end web-production is in usability and accessibility, This site itself is the very first learning step (all be it in the wrong direction, as anyone who knows about that stuff can see) in trying to achieve both of those. Although it may not be obvious to most people by just looking at it, the way it is made (should) make the information and data more accessible to people more people on different devices such as voice browsers for blind people etc...(this is why it looks like crap on some browsers —I sacrifice visual consistency for accessibility— of course to anyone who really knows, they will see many flaws in this site...) In the same way, Japanese, though perhaps less obvious, allows me to retrieve data and knowledge from a different sort of database... Japanese people and society.
Armed with this new understanding about what I was actually doing with my °»tools°…, I decided to find out what other people do with similar tools, and how they developed those tools. A little searching came up with library science, so I searched for librarian's web-logs since a web-log can give me the most personal look at the life of someone whom I don't know. Lo and behold, I came across the rougelibrarian. Why is this interesting? Because I am actually quite familiar with one of her WOW projects, and use it often for my own work!
A little further reading, and I discover that she does work very similar to what I really want to use my own skills for. A little further reading, and I see she graduated with a masters from University of Michigan School of Information so I checked out that site, and find that they study and research exactly the type of things that I am interested in creating WOW in. From information communicated in images (art.. and marketing) to web-sites and content management, they seem to utilize most of my tools. A look at the career section, the jobs advertised there, and the jobs that the alumni hold was quite motivating too, since most of them seemed to be jobs I could make some really kick-ass WOW in. Unlike business school, and computer science grads who, for the most part wind up in (high-paying) jobs in areas that are interesting, but not even close to what I would feel comfortable in. Although I have toyed with the idea of business school for marketing, computer science, art or design, I never felt I could be sure of any of them 100%, never felt that they gave the whole picture...
I must say that becoming a librarian seems quite promising. More on this later to be sure...