Monthly Archives: April 2013

Everything seems like an unruly blur where my experience post-graduation has become permanently curtailed by career narratives. I often find myself fluttering between stability and instability – recognizing the obvious colossal downfall of craving things in place. The hunt for permanent employment has not let up, and the flux of casual labour has me temporally stunted. Among many people I know in the field (or out of the field more like) there is an insecure trend of non-opportunities that seems to be growing progressively worse. Much of my experience at SLAIS was spent cultivating research around this notion of precarity as it culminates and is amplified in commercial social networking technologies. My directed study, “Revolutionaries will not be friended: owning activism through social networking,” provided a critique of these networks as a space for radicalism employed by social agitators (a term I first heard from Antonis Vradis and Dimitris Dalakoglou of Occupied London).

I come at the onset of new information technologies in a totalizing fashion; I think a curated event on Facebook should make everyone, particularly social agitators, discomfited and hesitant. In retrospect, I think a lot of my apprehension and radical critiques came from being inundated with community rhetoric, especially in the discourse of Community Informatics where bridging the technological gap between digital ‘natives’ and ‘non-natives’ is the primary concern. Identities were treated as givens. As a Downtown Eastside Tech Hub, part of Vancouver’s Digital Strategies, is under negotiations, I’m starting to visualize a continuation of this project on precarity as it pertains to media communication and depersonalized time – here I see a clash of precarious subsets, the valorization of signs and symbols via info-labour and the struggle of the marginalized populations in the DTES. Franco Berardi writes, “An experience that derives from worker’s struggle in the last years, is that the struggle of precarious workers does not make a cycle” and I keep pressing the notion precarious labour is in itself stratified and discombobulated. As someone who has worked extensively in the DTES and also continues to pursue a career in information studies (librarianship, research, archival projects), my writing builds upon these experiences in order to establish a discourse of strategy.

My critical thinking is still taken up by the siege of global capitalism on the planet, and I’ve found focus in the attention given to precarious labour by Franco Berardi, Matteo Pasquinelli, Silvia Federici, and Christian Marazzi. The problem, I’ve noticed, is how much the critical writing I’ve read has become a foil for my own renderings of life. Things aren’t going as planned, and the more I come to terms with the larger picture the more it’s difficult to keep on going. Last night I had dinner with my best friend, and I spoke out loud about waiting for an end and the madness that resumes in narrativity. She asked, what do you mean by ends, and I had to think twice, because lately ends have meant, not the real philosophical question of suicide, but the shape of life as a disc such as how ancient cultures believed the Earth was flat. I’ve been thinking I’ll fall into something else, a new body even. I said instead (the alternative thought wasn’t clear until now), to this financial and unemployment struggle. Realism sits next to the symbolic sensation of this given situation.

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I ended up in library school quite by accident. I had been working in a good union job for the past 10 years with a pretty good wage and great benefits, but I was always complaining about my job. One day my friend, who is a librarian and had gone to SLAIS at UBC, told me I should apply to library school. She loved her job and thought I’d like it, too. I applied and I got in. It all happened pretty fast. So I quit my job and went back to school.

I’ve been thinking lately how smart everyone I went to SLAIS with was. Really smart. We were all mostly older (I think our class age average was 33) and half of us already had a master’s degree. The program wasn’t competitive, meaning we weren’t competing for a certain number of “A”’s. As a result, there were always other students around who were happy to help me any time,  especially with the computer stuff (like building a website). And group projects were a dream – everybody would actually do their work and do a really good job (unlike most undergrad experiences). I met some great people, like this gang, who I’m still friends with.

It occurred to me only recently that library school is still an arts degree, although it’s given its own discipline. Completing the degree is one thing, but having the right connections when you’re out to actually get hired is another thing. It’s like my undergrad in sociology. I have it, but nobody really cares because I don’t have any connections in places where I could put that knowledge to use.

I thought my MLIS was a practical career choice, but it turns out my Yoga Teacher Training was much more practical and has actually led me to paid work. Although, I have to admit that I was convinced leaving library school that I was not getting a job because, although we weren’t competitive in the program, we would be competing out in the real world for very rare librarian jobs. And if we got a job, then we should be ready and willing to include “justifying our job to the boss on a daily basis” as part of our job description, and even then, it would probably get cut eventually. I also have to admit that as fabulous and amazing as all the librarian’s we had in to teach our classes were, they worked hard! And they worked long. They put their all into their careers, which is awesome, it’s just not how I want to work. I finished library school the same time I finished my yoga teacher training program and I decided to go the yoga route. I still hope to find some kind of casual or part-time library work, but right now, teaching yoga is my focus.

In looking for paid work now, I keep in mind the Rudolf Rocker quote,

“I am not an anarchist because I believe anarchism is the final goal, I am an anarchist because there is no such thing as a final goal”.

No matter what work I do, I want to be engaged in the process of that work, rather than focusing on how much money it pays me or where it can lead, because if I’m not enjoying the work, then what’s the point? The process, and being in this moment, is all that matters.