Thursday, September 21, 2006

Mercenaries, sell-swords and other contractual operators

The Ninja Librarian wishes to comment upon the nature of contracts, contract companies, and being a contract employee. The Ninja Librarian will also be referring to himself in the third person today because he feels like it. Cope.

You see, the Ninja Librarian finds himself in a fascinatingly unique circumstance. The library in which he works (under contract) is operated (under contract) by a company that has recently entered into the Library/Information field. One would imagine, as the Ninja Librarian did, that there would exist a standard corporate relationship between the contracted employees (who had all been employees of the last company to hold said contract), the project manager, and the company.
By standard corporate, the Ninja Librarian refers to other such contracting companies who would bring in a corporate employee to act as project manager and pass the dictates of the Home Office down to the rank and file.

This mode of operation was, as the Ninja Librarian understands, rather similar to the way mercenary companies operated within national armies during the European middle ages. And afterward, for that matter. This is also similar to the way companies of Bushi hired their services to warlords in Japan during the same time period.

That, however, was not the case. The project manager from the old company transitioned over to become the PM of the new company, but the loyalty to the troops remained quite strong. So strong, in fact, that several battles were fought for better circumstances.
Tragically, most of those battles were unsuccessful but the point had been made to the home office.
The new PM has adopted exactly the same tack as the old PM, and while the Ninja Librarian is rather used to functioning alone in the world of corporate contracting, he must confess that it is a nice change to have elements of management being supportive for a change.
He must also apologize for the run-on length of the preceding sentence.

Now then. The contractee is displeased with certain elements of said contract company and has made this displeasure clear. The contract employees are displeased with elements of said contract company, and have made said displeasure clear.
One would imagine, as the Ninja Librarian did, that said contract company would take steps to correct the problems to everyone's best interest. After all, the contractee may cancel said contract at any time. The contract employees are not bound to a term of service.

This did not happen. Said contract company staged an impromptu rah-rah session clearly intended to reassure said contract employees, in much the same manner as a medieval king would try to reassure his mercenaries from leaving or worse yet, joining the other side.

It didn't work. In fact, one could argue that it made things worse as certain facts were brought to light. Facts whose implications are assuredly not what contract operators wish to hear, ever. Of course, questions of loyalty to the company are sure to rise but the Ninja Librarian counters with this: Why should the Ninja Librarian be loyal to a company that does not show loyalty to its contract employees?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Read at Your Own Risk

The management will not be responsible for unusually coincidental, tragic, deserved, ironic, or Darwin-esque deaths that may or may not occur within a certain time limit of visiting here. In fact, the management denies all responsibility for any death or injury or property damage or anything out of the ordinary in any way whatsoever that may or may not occur in the next ever as a possible result of having anything to do with this blog. At all. Reader(s) assume all liability and responsibility. Don't blame us if you trip and fall down the stairs.

Now that we've gotten the required warnings out of the way, a brief discourse on why I decided on the "ninja librarian" moniker. Perhaps "alias" would be a better word, but I'm not a Jennifer Garner fan. I'm not too fond of Ben Affleck either. ;-)
Anyway (fair warning, I digress often. Misdirection is one of the ninja's most effective tools), yes, I am a librarian. I have been long amused by some of the other names of blogged librarians out there - Lipstick Librarian comes to mind - so I thought I would toss my proverbial hat in the ring.

Even though ninja tend not to wear hats unless they're in disguise.

So why Ninja Librarian? Well, I find that ninja and librarians are two of the most misunderstood professions around today, at least in the eyes of popular culture. At the same time, they share several important similarities in their job descriptions. More on that later. Also, I think Ninja Burger is one of the funniest-yet-applicable concepts ever.

Anyway, misunderstandings.
Many people consider Librarians to be boring, staid old ladies with blue hair sitting at a desk shushing people and bitching about technology. The common conception - which I may add was not helped at all by the god-awful TNT movie - is that Librarians are bookwormish founts of useless esoterica who, again, hate computers.
I have news for those blighted souls who buy into this stereotype: Librarians are on the bleeding edge of information storage and retrieval. We, and people like us, are responsible for the useful index on, the Dewey Decimal System (long has it been mocked), and yes...even the first databases. What else do you think a card catalog was, other than a convenient way to kill people with papercuts? Those rooms filled with index cards were the first relational databases.
It goes on from there, but this isn't a history lesson. Suffice it to say that I know more librarians with nose studs and pierced tongues than I do old blue-haired technophobes.

Now, about Ninja. I'm sure most net-savvy people have heard about RealUltimatePower and other such 'fan' sites. There are also many sources like Wikipedia which strive to maintain some semblance of historical fact. Trouble is, as with other such 'secret societies' and whatnot, even the facts are disputed. I sometimes wonder if Colbert's "Truthiness" is more than just sharp satire.
Ninja, historically, were spies and by some accounts, assassins. There seems to be ample historical evidence for them having combat training and a preference for easily disguised weaponry. No, I won't go into it here. This is not the reference component of the Ninja Library. ;-)
Spies. In other words, gatherers of information. Sometimes potentially sensitive information, mind you, but information nevertheless.

The immediate implication here is that I am trying to relate librarians to spies. That, dear readers, is sloppy inclusive logic of the worst sort. Librarians and spies are both subsets of "information gatherers."
And really, spies steal sensitive information and restrict its access. Librarians are all about public access to information and generalized education.
So, does this make me, the Ninja Librarian, a contradiction in terms that should lead to immediate universal erasure?
Yes, but only if you ask the right people. :-)

The one thing that everyone can agree on about the ninja is that they are sneaky. And quiet.
Okay. The two things people can agree on about ninja is that they're sneaky, and quiet. And masters of a diverse array...
Right. You get the idea. You may have also noticed that this 'brief' diatribe has turned into something rather a bit longer than I'd intended. Oh well.

So, welcome to the Ninja Library. Let's see what we can find, shall we?