Collaborative and Compassionate Computing / Proactive, Prepared, and People-Centered

In January, I became the Senior Director for Library Technology & Digital Strategies, which means I now also lead Library Technology Services, in addition to chairing the Digital Partnerships & Strategies Department. I am thrilled to be in this role, to best support current needs and possible futures, including for how we leverage and build-upon technologies with socio-technical practices that understand and embrace maintenance, minimal computing, ethics of care, mutual aid, collaborative practices, generous thinking, shine theory, and many other names that speak to our ability to be better together.

With so many of us moving to working remote, I wrote briefly on compassionate computing. It was too brief, with time demanded to support folks working remotely and the overall upheaval in these times.  This again will be too brief and perhaps weirdly incomplete. I hope to share more thoughts on this moving forward. For now, I wanted to not two tag-lines for Library Technology and Digital (Partnerships &) Strategies:

  • Collaborative and Compassionate Computing
  • Proactive, Prepared, and People-Centered Systems

These phrases help to orient both the work we do and the manner in which that work needs to be done.

For example, one of our development teams follows agile/scrum, which has been a good bit of work to ensure the project stakeholders are positioned to be fully engaged. The work to support them is both deeply technical and rooted in collaboration and equality (following procedural justice and informational justice, and powering the triangle of satisfaction for all involved). For technology, following the principle of “to each according to their needs” means that our frameworks and systems have to be designed so that those with the greatest needs and most affected are positioned for input and ownership, and agile/scrum practices are a way to do this. Agile/scrum is project/process for programming/development that works, and that is based on iterative development, focusing first on a minimum viable product, and that recognizes that work isn’t just technical and that a framework is needed for engaging across technical/programming with the project stakeholders. It also recognizes that the project stakeholders/owners are often not managers, and are the people who are most affected by (or bettter worded as most in need of) the technology.agile/scrum practices recognize that we need everyone in the process, and that the power is in the collaboration and the network configuration that best enables collaboration.  When I read on how we get free, how we get to liberation and justice, and so on, I am struck by how often people emphasize following democractic and just procedures and making those into our worlds, as part of alread being in a better world, and building a better world, and building all of us into it–it’s how we build a better world and bring us all into that world together. Our technologies, our project management, our process management, and the manner in which we work in all aspects is part of this. Agile/scrum can be used as part of this. It’s telling that the single-most problem for using agile/scrum is management (people agile/scrum, while more effective, is not as controlled, and people fight it even when it’s more effective because it does come up against some peoples’ inherent worldviews and ways of being). In our ever-more technical world, the work of technologists has to be to be socio-technical, to practice collaborative and compassionate computing, to have these practices baked in at all levels, including technical-always-as-socio-technical where we work to ensure we bring all along, to each according to their needs.

As ever, I am excited for the work to come, for the opportunities to build a better world, by building together.