Gavia Libraria

Jam tomorrow

So it seems Talis is leaving linked-data-space. Curious time to do it, now that (in the US, at least) substantial chunks of the cataloging enterprise are poised to move toward linked data. In all honesty, the Loon thinks they’ll regret it… but she understands, even as she understands the keen frustration that Leigh Dodds is hinting at without fully expressing.

Hanging on by one’s wing-tips just a tiny bit longer… that’s what we’re supposed to do, isn’t it? Western narrative says we’ll be rewarded for persistence. Western narrative (business narrative particularly) says our colleagues are persuadable; just reason with them and listen a lot, and they’ll come ’round. Or the world will change such that we will be vindicated. Someday.

Jam tomorrow, jam tomorrow, jam tomorrow, but never jam today, never once. Western narrative doesn’t much heed the White Queen’s caprices, but that doesn’t make them less real.

The Loon’s been on that treadmill, as have many. As was Talis, and (eventually) the employees working on linked data at Talis. Some folks trapped on the treadmill manage to take I.F. Stone to heart, contenting themselves with the small immediate victories they can win. Loons are birds of broad vistas, though; the Loon never could learn to do that, not for lack of trying. She felt caged in an ever-shrinking cage.

Why did she allow herself to stay caged so long? Jam tomorrow, of course. The hope of jam tomorrow. Perennial jam-tomorrow is the danger of the “hero” narrative. The Loon once had a former student stuck in a similar cage email her miserably, pleading for advice. Once the Loon finished swearing as she furiously churned the waters of her pond (the Loon does not approve of her best students being abused), she emailed back Is there any realistic hope of change? The student, to her credit, did not flail the way the Loon flailed, just said no. Then get out, said the Loon. The student did, and is vastly happier now. Even as (mourning aside) the Loon is, in her new plumage.

It might be nice to be a scholarly-communications librarian just now, mid-Academic-Spring. The Loon does sometimes feel that if she’d hung on just a bit longer… She knows that’s a fallacy, though. Nothing meaningful would be different if she had; she’d only have gone on battering her wings against the cage bars, tearing her feathers off.

The Loon hopes that Talis and its departing employees heal their wounds quickly. There is life after jam-tomorrow! And if the Loon is right and Talis dumped linked data just a hair too soon… they’ll survive it or they won’t, but that doesn’t make their decision wrong. Sometimes waiting for jam, even inevitable jam, does too much harm.