Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th Edition

The 11th Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, coincidentally published in 1911, is known (by librarians and historians mostly) for the depth of its articles and the scholarly authority of the authors of these articles. I just ran across an online version of this 44 million word reference source and after a little more research have found more than one website hosting it. Needless to say, it is of no value for most 20th century topics, but for students and academics in most fields it is a historiography of great value.

Wikipedia offers these characterizations by noted authorities. I can't think of better advertisements for trying it than these
In 1917, under his pseudonym of S. S. Van Dine, the US art critic and author Willard Huntington Wright published Misinforming a Nation, a 200+ page criticism of inaccuracies and biases found in the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition. Wright claimed that Britannica was "characterized by misstatement, inexcusable omissions, rabid and patriotic prejudices, personal animosities, blatant errors of fact, scholastic ignorance, gross neglect of non-British culture, an astounding egotism, and an undisguised contempt for American progress.

"Sir Kenneth Clark, in Another Part of the Wood (1974), wrote of the eleventh edition, "One leaps from one subject to another, fascinated as much by the play of mind and the idiosyncrasies of their authors as by the facts and dates. It must be the last encyclopaedia in the tradition of Diderot which assumes that information can be made memorable only when it is slightly coloured by prejudice. When T. S. Eliot wrote 'Soul curled up on the window seat reading the Encyclopædia Britannica,' he was certainly thinking of the eleventh edition." (Clark refers to Eliot's 1929 poem Animula.)"

Check it out at:

Friday, October 24, 2008

Molecular Movies--Cool Animations for the Biologist and the Curious

This website just came via Scout Report. This is their review:
. . . . The Molecular Movies site presents an organized directory of various animations, along with original tutorials for life science professionals who are learning 3D visualization techniques. These materials are divided into the following sections: "Showcase", "Learning", "Toolkit", and "News". The "Showcase" area contains animations listed by scientific area or individual animator or design studio. Currently, there are well over fifty animations offered here which demonstrate everything from cell invasions to DNA replication. Next up are the visualization tutorials (located in the "Learning" area), which allow users to learn about the techniques used in making such lovely animations. Visitors can browse these tutorials by skill level, software type, or topic area. Before leaving the site, visitors should also check out the site weblog for further updates and links to other related works. [KMG]

Copyright Internet Scout, 1994-2008. Internet Scout

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