My Paul-on-the-road-to-Damascus with the command line

5 Jun

So let me say here and now that I always KNEW somehow, intuitively, that I should learn the command line, that it would change my life. Proselytizing from a good friend (of Escape Characters fame) for months has told me that automation is the way to go — if librarians deal with information overload, well then, we’re going to need the right tools for the job. Why spend hours clicking from page to page searching for a certain character string or file type when we can batch download all of these pages and then extract the information we need in just a few keystrokes? Sure, the command line LOOKS scary, but it’s really the smart way to go.

Of course, she puts it better than I ever could.

If you’re a librarian, I think part of your skillset should include knowing how to use the command line. You might say that you’re not that type of librarian, we hire other people to do the work with the computers, librarianship isn’t about this kind of technological skills, someother explanation — but, hrm. No. I respectfully, wholeheartedly disagree. You need to know this. You really do. If you’re a librarian, and you’re working with lots of information — and I mean, lots, like information overload lots — you need to be equipped with a way to handle this information without resorting to mind-numbing data entry methods. No, really. Every time someone says, “I guess I have to do this exhaustingly repetitive task by hand, I cry a little. It doesn’t matter if you’re one thousand miles away; I know, and I weep.

So please, visit Escape Characters and her series on useful ways to use the command line in your everyday work.

And I’ll keep you updated on how this is changing my life.

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