Friday Fable. Lubans’ The Ahead-of-His-Time Carpenter Bee.

Posted by jlubans on February 13, 2015

20150213-rsz_1rsz_carpenter_bee_hole-1.jpg
Caption: In sunny times.

Long ago, when animals could talk, a drowsy carpenter bee emerged from his tunnel-nest. While winter, this afternoon was unusually warm.
He breathed in the warm air, buzzed around a bit, did a somersault in the sunshine, and happily droned off looking for nectar.
Then winter clouds slid across the sky, chilling the air. Our bee’s movements slowed and slowed; his zooming efforts to get home sputtered. It was too late. As he collapsed onto the deck below the nest, he was heard to mutter:
“Being first is not all it’s made out to be!”
That night a gentle snow blanketed the bee.

And, so it can be at work. While there may be glory in being first, you may find yourself all alone. What was urgent for you may not be so for anyone else.
In the late 90s, I did one of the first studies on student Internet use – at least for library-land. I thought the results were pretty dramatic - suggesting a seismic shift in information use - so I decided against publishing my conclusions in the conventional print way; instead I made the draft report and data available on my web page – it is still there.
For a while my approach worked, earning a mention in the NY Times and some speaking engagements. And, since it was on the Internet at the peak of the dotcom boom, lots of non-library types expressed interest – what I had to say mattered more to them than to my librarian colleagues who did not share my urgency.
Not long after, others joined in the research and my humble early efforts were pretty much forgotten. I have to wonder if I had waited and published in a “legacy” print journal, indexed and abstracted, whether the research would not have had more of a wider and lasting impact.

@Copyright John Lubans 2015

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