Thursday, October 02, 2008

Imagination Overwhelms Me

When everyone else sees the world as bland and boring, there are those among us who make visual, aural and poetic sense of the random.

Sorted Books project

The Sorted Books project began in 1993 years ago and is ongoing. The project has taken place in many different places over the years, ranging form private homes to specialized public book collections. The process is the same in every case: culling through a collection of books, pulling particular titles, and eventually grouping the books into clusters so that the titles can be read in sequence, from top to bottom.

Bill Geist on Complaining Choirs (CBS Sunday Morning)
CBS' offbeat correspondent Bill Geist explores the trend of "complaining choirs", where ordinary people complain about life to four-part harmony.

Glumbert: When graphic artists get bored.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Banned Books Week

This is the one week a year that we officially celebrate our freedom to read whatever we want. John Stuart Mill believed that if we were just allowed to explore all possible arguments we would come up with an enlightened answer. But Plato didn't trust that we would not be unduly swayed by the poets and rhetoricians. The battle still rages today. Reading is a civic responsibility OR reading is dangerous unless controlled for "truth." Libraries generally take the first position and are sometimes challenged by those who take the second.

Here is the Joint Statement by the American Library Association and the American Association of Publishers.

Take the Guardian's Quiz to see how much you know about book banning worldwide.

Here's a list of frequently banned books.

And visit the University Library to vote for your favorite banned book.

“If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind. Were an opinion a personal possession of no value except to the owner; if to be obstructed in the enjoyment of it were simply a private injury, it would make some difference whether the injury was inflicted only on a few persons or on many. But the peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” — On Liberty, John Stuart Mill

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Living Room Candidate

Lest we forget past campaigns.

Just got this fascinating link from a library colleague. It's from the Museum of the Moving Image. How about let's study the visual and rhetorical techniques of campaign ads as part of information literacy.
"The Living Room Candidate contains more than 300 commercials, from every presidential election since 1952, when Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as I Love Lucy would reach more voters than any other form of advertising. This innovation had a permanent effect on the way presidential campaigns are run."

Monday, September 29, 2008

Institutions, Victims and Justice

Paul Newman: from the film The Verdict (1982, directed by Sidney Lumet, script by David Mamet).


You know, so much of the time we’re lost. We say, ‘Please, God, tell us what is right. Tell us what’s true. There is no justice. The rich win, the poor are powerless…’ We become tired of hearing people lie. After a time we become dead. A little dead. We start thinking of ourselves as victims. (pause) And we become victims. (pause) And we become weak…and doubt ourselves, and doubt our institutions…and doubt our beliefs…we say for example, `The law is a sham…there is no law…I was a fool for having believed there was.’ (beat) But today you are the law. You are the law…And not some book and not the lawyers, or the marble statues and the trappings of the court…all that they are is symbols. (beat) Of our desire to be just… (beat) All that they are, in effect, is a prayer…(beat)… a fervent, and a frightened prayer. In my religion we say, `Act as if you had faith, and faith will be given to you.’ (beat) If. If we would have faith in justice, we must only believe in ourselves. (beat) And act with justice. (beat) And I believe that there is justice in our hearts. (beat) Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

David Pogue on Google

Every Thursday I watch for the email from New York Times with David Pogue's column. He is one of the few technology writers that really writes to be understood. I trust someone who actually uses the products he writes about. This week he writes about using Google and how Google has improved its searching facility to make life so much easier for us. Those of us who remember life without Google can't even conceive how life can be even easier than yesterday's Google, but David Pogue thinks so. Here's his column.