Generational Shift, part deux; or, why librarians don’t just stamp things anymore.


Click on the above picture. It should open into a bigger picture where you can read what’s written on the whiteboard. Unfortunately, the flash is right on the part I wrote, which says, “please do not download WOW patch while ur working.” If you understand this message, you are probably under 30 years of age. 😉 This is why I’m so great in my job; (JMHO, of course) all the students understood the message, which is who I needed to reach. All the staff over 35 (except for the media guy and my evening supervisor tech geek guy, who are both under 40) all went, “What? Please explain.”

There is a fundamental change in language going on online. Soon, the generations younger than 30 right now will speak two languages – vocal English and online English. It’s already happening! They expect to use technology in *every* aspect of their lives. They have mastered it easily, and expect it no matter where they are. I’m sure you may have noticed all those cryptic email abbreviations from your children and children’s friends, and maybe your friends – “LOL, BTW, YMMV” and those faces made out of punctuation- 🙂 ;-P :-D, :-O…If you’re older than 40, you may notice that your kids *never* leave off texting on their cell phones.  They post their status to Facebook at any time, from their palm or phone or laptop, on the bus, in the library or at home. They expect to be able to do this even when the person they’re speaking to is sitting in the next room! They speak online so easily and unquestionally, because they’ve never been alive when there wasn’t a computer in their house, or one in their hand! Geeks my age and older may have brought the internet into being, and started the first online languages, but now I kind of feel like I’m being dragged along in the young people’s wake! The master has now become the student! (NOOOOOO!!!! You’re not my fatherrrrrrr!!!!! 😛 ) We may have started all the acronyms and emoticons because our bandwidth was *14K* a second, but it’s grown waaaay past me even *pretending* most of the time that I know what’s going on. Call it accelerated, internet-caused, tech Progeria.

So, why did I post the original first message on the whiteboard? Well, you see, I have this talent of being able to learn new technology, just well enough to be able to understand younger people, and try to explain it to older people. One of our students expected to be able to read his updates about a game online at the PC at the front desk. Somehow, he had managed to mistakenly download that HUUUUGE patch on the library’s Circulation PC, and it had crashed. Since online gaming is not necessarily something we forbid at the library, but something that they probably shouldn’t be downloading on a computer that is not theirs, I wrote the note on the board. Low tech, but it was seen! Is this something that I needed to do in my normal course of daily activities, making sure that the front Circulation Desk runs smoothly? You Betcha! Is it something I learned how to do in Library Graduate school? Well, not really. I guess you could say the UW Ischool taught me how to think systematically, gave me a familiarity with technology, and taught me to roll with the technological punches. That’s why I went to the University of WA Ischool, not somewhere else. Is it something people think librarians do in their jobs? Probably not.

For those of you who need the translations, I’ve included them at the bottom of the post. Just so that you’ll see what I mean, about a half hour after I wrote that first message, several others appeared: “WOW Patch 3.1 is LIVE! WOOOOH!”, “Yay, more tedious hours of gold farming, FTW!”, “Die, SusanExpress, DIE!”, “Goldfarmers are EVIL”, (I wrote that), and “Dual Spec, FTW!”. Actually, I didn’t understand what one of the answers from the students meant, so I asked them…”Hey, what does ‘FTW’ mean?” I have also included this at the cheat sheet at the bottom.

The Windows Desktop support woman (who is 23) who troubleshoots problems with our Windows software came into my office right after this exchange and showed me the picture she had just taken of the whiteboard with her phone, and informed me, “That ROCKS. I’m putting that on my blog.”

If you have not understand *anything* I’ve said since I started this post, congratulations! You must be over 40 at least. 😀

Cheat sheet below!! For those who know what I’m talking about; no, this is a cheat sheet for the old people. Reading this will not give you any leet new skillz. 🙂

ur – An abbreviation of “you’re”.

JMHO – “just my humble opinion”. Contrasted with “JMNSHO” – “just my not-so-humble-opinion”.

WOW – World of Warcraft, a real-time fantasy role-playing world, which kids pay a subscription each month to play in. You build characters and get experience, just like in the bad old days of paper and dice and AD and D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons) or GURPS (Generic Universal Role Playing System) books.

Patch – a piece of software distributed over the internet, intended to upgrade the program with nifty new capability, or to *fix* what the software writer *thought* would be a nifty new capability.

Gold farming – this is where the kid in question doesn’t want to spend his whole week getting experience and gold (fortune) through actually *playing* the game and successfully winning at the battles and challenges, and jumps straight ahead to the fortune part by *buying* it from someone else, i.e., a “gold farmer.” Having more gold allows you to buy better armor, horse, weapons, etc., and progress up in level quicker. Are you confused yet? Remember, this *isn’t real*. WOW only exists online. But the credit card the kid uses has to be real. 😀 Why did I write “Gold Farmers are EVIL”? Because <affecting a creaky voice here> “Dagnabbit, in *my* day, you had to get your gold the old fashioned way! You *earned* it! You had to slog through level one, two, and three, and be weak and powerless, and sometimes your character got killed after 4 hours of lovingly attentive character generation, but that’s what you did! It built character! And you appreciated that nice armor and high level when you finally got it! Even *if* your brand new gaming book you just bought from the Enterprise 1701 gaming store just fell apart; you put it back together with duct tape!” <creaky old voice off>. Man, am I *old*.

FTW – “for the win.”

SusanExpress – someone’s character that the author of the note has apparently gone against in a battle online.

Dual Spec – I have *no* idea. Specs when I was gaming lo-these-many-years-ago were attributes. You had one each for strength, intelligence, comeliness, etc., etc. They determine what kind of physical and mental abilities you had, and what kind of armor and weapons you could lift and wear.

LOL – “laughing out loud”

BTW – “by the way”

YMMV – “your mileage may vary, BTW…”

crash – your computer has frozen up. The mouse won’t work, the keyboard won’t work, nothing works.

14K – 14,000 bytes per second, a very slow modem indeed. The modem connects you to the internet. A 14K modem was what most people used about 1985-1990, and would not be able to handle most things people do on the internet today. Thus, the need to create a language that didn’t take up much bandwidth.

leet skillz – an online gamer way of “check my talent out!” Comes from the word “elite” and “skills”.



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2 responses to “Generational Shift, part deux; or, why librarians don’t just stamp things anymore.

  1. Mom

    Is it OK if I just continue to be your uneducated Mother who at 73, is just a little too old to undeerstand all this. Thanks for trying though.

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