"The Programming Historian is an online, open access, peer reviewed suite of about 30 tutorials that help humanists (though slanted towards historians) learn a wide range of digital tools, techniques, and workflows to facilitate their research. Despite the name, we do not focus exclusively on programming, but rather aim to provide guidance on a variety of digital methods and approaches.
Welcome to… “Lazy Consensus.”
Could anything sound less like “How impatient people can change the world?” This is a phrase that rings of nothing more than lying in a hammock, singing kumbaya. But my goal will be to introduce lazy consensus as a tactical approach for moving committees and organizations and institutions (and, hey, maybe even nation-states!) despite themselves. And I have another message today. “Lazy consensus: you oughta wield it — because it’s already being wielded against you.”
If yes is your lazy-consensus default and the clock runs out with no major objections to the original proposal being voiced, the group moves forward with it. If you have to go back to the drawing board because people do object, you go – but the comforting thing about this tactic is that at least you didn’t stay there, at the starting line, forever and ever amen. You’re always moving quickly to concrete, generally reasonably-implementable proposals that (in most cases, in my experience) only need some iteration and adjustment before they’re good to go. And the beautiful thing for large, slow-moving, and bureaucratic organizations (like libraries) is that, to stop you from rolling forward, somebody had to be paying enough attention to notice, and then had to care enough to craft and voice an opinion behind which others might see a plausible rationale. This lies in contrast to the situation in far too many organizations and groups, where, oftentimes, an untoward amount of institutional inertia or even disengagement must be overcome before anybody feels licensed to move.
You might be tempted to sum all this up as “Fortes fortuna adiuvat.” But the basic idea behind lazy consensus is a little less Gladiator and a little more Downton Abbey. It’s a social contract, which works like this. If we operate in by lazy consensus, we already agree on one thing: if you can’t be bothered to say yes or no to my proposal in a timely fashion, you probably don’t fundamentally care about what happens on this occasion – so we’re not waiting on you, and will assume (no harm, no foul!) that you are getting yourself out of the way while those of us who do care carry on.
The Unix environment offers librarians and archivists high-quality tools for quickly transforming born-digital and digitized assets, such as resizing videos, creating access copies of digitized photos, and making fair-use reproductions of audio recordings. These tools, such as ffmpeg, lame, sox, and ImageMagick, can apply one or more manipulations to digital assets without the need to manually process individual items, which can be error prone, time consuming, and tedious. This article will provide information on getting started in using the Unix environment to take advantage of these tools for batch processing.
Then I realized I could connect the complaint with the scores of “intellectual elite” (as my manager described them) in UNIX shops. The common thread was wordsmithing; a suspiciously high proportion of my UNIX colleagues had already developed, in some prior career, a comfort and fluency with text and printed words. They were adept readers and writers, and UNIX played handily to those strengths. UNIX was, in some sense, literature to them. Suddenly the overrepresentation of polyglots, liberal-arts types, and voracious readers in the UNIX community didn't seem so mysterious, and pointed the way to a deeper issue: in a world increasingly dominated by image culture (TV, movies, .jpg files), UNIX remains rooted in the culture of the word.
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