Thursday, September 02, 2004

Introduction and self-quotation

As instructed in our initial class email, here's my intro... I'm Dorothea Salo, and just so that nobody's surprised, I have a personal weblog elsewhere. I'm in my second and (barring disaster) last year of the SLIS master's program.

A few things related to the class topic that pique my interest (no guarantees we touch on any of them, of course):
  • The proletarianization of teaching labor in the academy, especially in the humanities. How many of your undergraduate courses were taught by TAs or adjuncts? How about your graduate courses? (I'll answer for myself: counting the upcoming semester but not counting my summer independent study, four of ten graduate-level SLIS courses have been taught by adjuncts. The adjunct situation is a wee bit different in SLIS than elsewhere—but that's worth discussing too.) Did those TAs or adjuncts have benefits? What were they paid? Realistically, what are their chances of ending up in a tenured position?
  • Related question vis-a-vis librarianship. What about those paraprofessionals?
  • The invisibility of knowledge work to traditional models of work measurement and worker evaluation. If you're a knowledge worker, how does your boss know you're doing anything?
  • Models of how information gets from here to there in work situations. How new publishing mechanisms (e.g. blogs, wikis, so-called "social networking systems") change the movement of information -- or don't. Networks of social interaction in workplaces, and how they direct information flow.
  • Benefits, drawbacks, and stupidities of overseas outsourcing. (I have such a story to tell about the evil that is overseas tech support!)
I could say more, but that'll do for now.

It so happens I've read one or two of the books on the reading list already. Snipped from my weblog, a gut reaction to one of them:

I read Richard Florida’s The Rise of the Creative Class recently. It didn’t especially convince me—I can accept his data but not all his conclusions—but I had a true fire-book-across-room moment while perusing his final chapter. (No, I didn’t fire book across room. I don’t do that to library books. I just snarled and wanted to.)

See, Florida points out that a Creative Class–based economy leaves non-Creative-Classers in the dust, in service jobs that pay a wretched benefits-less pittance. He’s right. His solution? Not revaluing service jobs as vital parts of tolerable living. Not valuing human time and energy enough to pay a decent minimum wage, to ensure a minimum standard of health care. Oh, no. The answer is to move everyone into the Creative Class!

Moron. Clueless, elitist moron—I really wanted to fire that book into a wall, hard. Maybe I am a drudge; maybe I do deserve no more than the pittance I’m paid. Move me out of my drudgery into the lighthearted, self-absorbed Creative Class, though, and [my husband] David’s in immediate trouble. I may be a drudge, but I am a necessary drudge.

And we necessary drudges deserve better than second-class status. Better than to be told that whatever we’re doing is less than what we should be because it is a means to an end and not an end in itself.

There. That ought to spark some controversy.