Following up on Bonnie and Patrick’s posts about this year’s Code4Lib, I thought I’d write briefly about a few talks that really struck me this year.

First up is Becky Yoose’s fantastic “The Modern Day Sisyphus: #libtech Burnout and You”, a directly emotional to step in and step up when we see people around us burning out. As a new manager, this talk struck home with additional force, and made me ask some hard questions about what kind of culture I’m encouraging on the D-Team.

I also really enjoyed Andreas Orphanides’ talk “Architecture is politics: the power and the perils of systems design” (slides available here). Drawing on examples from software interfaces as well as the physical world of architecture and urban design, he laid out the political implications of choices made in systems design, how those choices both reflect the values of designers and may come into conflict with users of systems, and finally proposed a framework for ethics in system design. I’d recommend taking a look at his slide deck.

The conference was bookended by keynotes focusing on patron privacy, a topic often discussed in libraries but very seldom talked about in archives. Kate Krauss opened the conference with “Code For Liberation,” a wide-ranging talk with touched on surveillance in social movements both current and historical, and asked us to think about what data we collect, retain and distribute, reminding us that these are “politically charged and moral choices.” Ending the conference was a keynote by Gabriel Weinberg, the CEO and Founder of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that doesn’t track users. He made a great pitch to the audience to help develop apps and “bangs”; search codes (prefixed by an exclamation mark) that allow users to perform site-specific searches directly and anonymously from DuckDuckGo.

Overall, I’d say Code4Lib once again met my high expectations. Apart from the sessions, I found the opportunity to meet and talk with some of the brightest minds in library technology particularly rewarding this year. Here’s looking forward to Chattanooga!