I usually travel by ground-based transportation – train when I can, bus when I must – because I hate flying. There is something about this sort of travel that makes folks more sociable in my experience. Frequently a question that I have come to dread is asked: “So, what do you do?” Mumbling about libraries and technology is typically enough to bring about the initial stages of Ophthalmus Vitriatus: yes, the dreaded eye glaze (in faux Latin for pretentiousness points). The best reaction I can hope for is “oh, yeah, seems like a really useful job nowadays what with all that information going online.” Not a bad reaction, all in all. True for sure. But I wish I could succinctly express what I do without sounding overly general (“I’m a programmer and librarian”), or grandiose (“I am attempting to organize, disseminate, and preserve all the information in the world”).

I’m sure this is a problem with my own attempts at expression rather than a problem with our vocation. So I’m putting this question out there:<blockquote>Assume you’re talking to someone who knows almost nothing of libraries and technology, how do you explain, in a quick-and-appropriate-on-a-bus-or-train sort of way, what you do for a living?</blockquote>I’m guessing that snappy Rails app I’ve been working on for management of persistent identifiers is not very interesting to these folks.

What brought this about was my recent trek down to the Code4Lib conference in Athens, GA, which I must say is beautiful this time of year. Now if I can only convince myself that there won’t be snow to shovel at home, maybe I’ll work up the courage to step back on the train. By any road, I’m really looking forward to the next three days. The conference program looks awesome, and last year’s really set the bar high.

Oh yes, Anjanette Young (Systems Librarian at the University of Washington) and I found a cafe/pub in the College Ave. / Broad St. area that has happy hour from 4pm-9pm. This may very well be the death of me.

The title of this post has been brought to you by the Society for Meatwad Quotations™. Those of you who get the reference may be mildly amused. Those who don’t, clearly lead sad and empty lives.