Reaction to Battle in Seattle

So I went and saw Battle in Seattle on Saturday night. I warned my husband that I was probably going to get emotional, and that he just needed to be prepared. As I am pretty passionate/emotional usually, I felt I needed to give him fair warning. But to my surprise, instead of being angry or sad, I just felt, withdrawn. I had difficulty talking about it, which lasted well into Monday. An unusual reaction for me, because I usually like to talk about a movie, discuss and dissect it, and connect it to greater world issues. But this was different.

Why was it different? Because I was at the WTO protests. And watching a Hollywood love story sentimentalizing what was for me a deeply-felt political awakening was devastating.  But I think it was also seeing the archival footage that tore me up. I witnessed some of the police violence during those protests, and seeing it again on film was difficult.

To be fair to the movie, they allowed for the characters to voice the messages behind the protest. And they didn’t completely romanticize the characters (though there was some painfully awkward dialogue. How seriously can you take a 26-year-old saying wearily “how long have we been trying to save the planet now?” to another guy in his mid-twenties).

One piece of dialogue that I think captured both the passion and naivate of the protesters was from Andre Benjamin’s character Django. I can’t quote it exactly, but it was something like: “People at least know what the WTO is now … well, they probably don’t really know what the WTO is, but at least they know it’s bad.”

I’m not going to tell my WTO story here. I’m saving it to contribute to this wonderful community history project, organized by the Community Alliance for Global Justice, an organization continuing the work of activists involved in the WTO protests in Seattle.

I do hope that everyone who goes and sees this movie realizes that it is FICTION. While there are elements of truth to the movie, I think the overall effect is to distort what really happened. Instead of it appearing as if 50,000 people shut down the WTO meetings, they made it look like it was the work of about 6 people. Using this Hollywood convention of making a story with strong leading character mischaracterizes the communitarian effort that the WTO protests really were.

Link salad

I generally hate seeing these in my feed reader as I can’t be bothered to go click on a list of links if the author can’t take the time to give me some idea of what I’m going to be finding there (that good ol’ information scent).

But I haven’t been able to post all the stories and resources I’ve been finding, so here’s a list of links that I think you should go to:

My first conference presentation

So I’ve survived my very first professional conference presentation. I think it went well. When I occassionally looked out into the audience while I was speaking, I saw heads nodding and faces smiling. Good sign.

It was a bit surreal listening to the translator speaking into the microphone at the side of the room while I was talking. And seeing the delayed reaction of the people who were wearing the headphones to what I was saying. But bravo to Reforma National Conference for providing such a great service to the multi-lingual audience.

You can see my presentation slides, and those of my co-presenters Loida Garcia-Febo and AnaRita Puertas-Meyers on Webjunction at

I spoke about online communities, storytelling, and user experience design. I’m a dilettante, at best, in all three, but I hope I was able to connect the dots for some people. It was fun researching and writing the presentation. If we get accepted to the ALA conference 2009, then we’ll have a chance to give the presentation again.

Diversity in systems of knowledge

I recommended following this excellent blog about community health and libraries: Bringing Health Information to the Community.

This latest post points to MentorNet, which supports diversity in the science and engineering fields.  I’m also reading an article from the August issue of Information Outlook on Protecting Traditional Cultural Expressions. You must be a member of Special Libraries Association to read it, but it gives a good introduction to the complexity of the issue of copyright, intellectual property, and traditional and indigenous cultures.

In conjunction, both articles call for a new, cooperative worldview that respects, protects, and learns from multiple systems of knowledge.

Guatemala Book Fair declared annual event

This August article from Criticas announces the organizers’ intentions of making the Guatemala book fair an annual event. Unger writes:

Guatemala suffers from the reputation of being “El país de no lectores” (“the country without readers”), so FILGUA set as its objective “Vamos por un país de lectores” (“Let’s become a country of readers”). Still reeling from 36 years of civil war, with the by-product of ensuing gang warfare, violent crime, and femicide, Guatemala is not an easy place to build readership. FILGUA, however, has provoked understanding of the need to address issues of literacy, the promotion of reading, and the paucity of public libraries in the country, while at the same time raising the importance of eliminating value-added taxes on books.

At an event held in the National Palace of Culture, honoring the more than 80 attending writers, host Jerónimo Lancerio, the Minister of Culture and Sports and a Sakapultec Maya, was presented with a petition signed by 154, mostly rural, library directors urging increased government spending and the creation of new libraries. Immediately after the fair, a bill addressing the promotion of reading was introduced in the Guatemalan Congress. Indeed, there was a sense during FILGUA that after years of neglect, the Guatemalan government would begin addressing literacy issues, this in a country ranking second to last in spending for education in Latin America.

Good signs for the future of reading and libraries in Guatemala.

Hurricane Gustav library links

Here’s a quick roundup of library-related Hurricane Gustav links. Please add yours by commenting on this post.

Louisiana Library Status Blog

Library Director’s Blog: Lafayette (Louisiana) Public Library: Gustav Eve – August 31 – 9pm

ACRL Guest Blog Post: Loyala University Prepares for Hurricane Gustav

Gulf Coast Braces for Potential Category 3 Hurricane

LibraryThing Hurricane Gustav Thread (not quite library related, but a community of book lovers)

Lakeview area quiet… (library as pick up site)