LibrarianShipwreck

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Plague Poems – The Seventieth Week

At long last it is time to admit it: the alarmists were right to be so alarmed. * Death is inevitable so too are virusesbut that this virushas killed so … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Sixty-Ninth Week

We celebrate with the greatest intensity when we suspect that we have little cause to celebrate. * How very unfortunateare thosewho can act as thoughthis last yearnever happened. How very … Continue reading

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Theses on Technological Pessimism

We fly over the mountains As though there was nothing to it Great are the works of humans! But bread for all? We can’t do it. Child, ask why Can … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Sixty-Eighth Week

You do not need to say that we are not ready for the challenges that await us for there is ample evidence that we are not ready for the challenges … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Sixty-Seventh Week

That things have improved does not mean that from this point forward they can only keep improving progress requires maintenance we worked to get here should we become idle we … Continue reading

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Theses on Techno-Optimism

“If you fall in love with a machine there is something wrong with your love-life. If you worship a machine there is something wrong with your religion.” – Lewis Mumford … Continue reading

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Burn it All – a Review of “Your Computer is on Fire”

It often feels as though contemporary discussions about computers have perfected the art of talking around, but not specifically about, computers. Almost every week there is a new story about … Continue reading

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They meant well (or, why it matters who gets to be seen as a “tech critic”)

“We need technology to live, as we need food to live. But, of course, if we eat too much food, or eat food that has no nutritional value, or eat … Continue reading

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Progress for the status quo – on the Chamber of Progress

“There is no escaping from ourselves. The human dilemma is as it has always been, and we solve nothing fundamental by cloaking ourselves in technological glory.” – Neil Postman A … Continue reading

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Broom-Scrolling? Assume-Scrolling? Bloom-Scrolling? – what comes after Doom-Scrolling?

“The true path is along a rope, not a rope suspended way up in the air, but rather only just over the ground. It seems more like a tripwire than … Continue reading

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“into the lifeboats” – a review of Nomadland

“You could not have been born at a better period than the present, when we have lost everything.” – Simone Weil Having been forced to flee, a weary traveler returns … Continue reading

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How to keep from getting distracted when you are trying to read

There is far too much going on these days. Truly, the world is being very inconsiderate. How can someone like yourself be expected to get any reading done when there … Continue reading

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The joke was on us – reflections on Trump’s presidency

“There is laughter because there is nothing to laugh about. Laughter, whether reconciled or terrible, always accompanies the moment when fear is ended. It indicates a release, whether from physical … Continue reading

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Authoritarian and Democratic Technics, revisited

“The viability of technology, like democracy, depends in the end on the practice of justice and on the enforcement of limits to power.” – Ursula Franklin I. Is technology a … Continue reading

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My Favorite Books from 2020

“The only thing that goes against my pessimism is the fact that we still carry on thinking today.” – Max Horkheimer 2020 was a really great year…for books. For just … Continue reading

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A Hell of a Year – Reflections on 2020

“I do not believe that things will turn out well, but the idea that they might is of decisive importance.” – Max Horkheimer 2020 was a hell of a year. … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la science” [Part 3]

“Indeed, what is the seduction of the flesh beside the seduction of science? Nothing; for the seduction of the flesh may well ruin a man, a people, a nation, an … Continue reading

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The Cassandra Conundrum

“We hate the people who try to make us form the connections we do not want to form.” – Simone Weil   One Let us begin with a riddle. Question: … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la science” [Part 2]

“Destruction by invasions is forever over; the barbarians who will put our human cycle in powder form will be the forces and energies of nature, these giants who have come … Continue reading

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“The Tree of Science” an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “L’arbre de la Science” [Part 1]

When the locomotive of progress carries us away, it is quite permissible to ask the mechanics who direct it to be prudent and to moderate its speed before having assumed … Continue reading

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Technology and the society we want to build – a review of the second edition of Langdon Winner’s “The Whale and the Reactor”

The announcement that Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan would be donating $300 million to help address some of the challenges COVID-19 poses for the 2020 elections was met with a … Continue reading

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Theses on Doomscrolling

‘Tis sweet, when, down the mighty main, the winds Roll up its waste of waters, from the land To watch another’s labouring anguish far, Not that we joyously delight that … Continue reading

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Flamethrowers and Fire Extinguishers – a review of “The Social Dilemma”

“The myth of technological and political and social inevitability is a powerful tranquilizer of the conscience. Its service is to remove responsibility from the shoulders of everyone who truly believes … Continue reading

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How to Prepare for This (totally normal) Fall Semester

The start of a new academic year is a thrilling and exhilarating moment! Professors and students come together to explore new topics, investigate complex issues, and continue down the path … Continue reading

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What teaching online taught me

“In the race between education and catastrophe, which Mr. H.G. Wells pointed out long ago, we can already see the finish line. And at the moment, catastrophe is in the … Continue reading

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It is later than you think – the COVID-19 catastrophe is already here

“Don’t be a coward. Have the courage to be afraid. Force yourself to produce the amount of fear that corresponds to the magnitude of the apocalyptic danger.” – Günther Anders. … Continue reading

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Facing Facebook

“Manufacturers and promoters always stress the liberating attributes of new technology, regardless of the specific technology in question.” – Ursula Franklin   While sailing through the cold waters of the … Continue reading

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TikTok Will Not Save Us

Have you heard? Social media is good again! The last several years have been rather rough for the social media companies. These companies—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and others—have gone from being … Continue reading

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How to Move Your Books in the Middle of a Pandemic

When the world is gripped by a pandemic, there are many activities that need to be approached with a new level of caution. Masks, gloves, social distancing, especially thorough handwashing, … Continue reading

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A Failure of the Imagination – COVID-19 and Catastrophe

“I have published these words in order to prevent them from becoming true. If we do not stubbornly keep in mind the strong probability of the disaster, and if we … Continue reading

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What is Happening In the Libraries While They Are Closed?

Libraries are generally fairly quiet places, and yet the near total silence that currently exists in many libraries is not the result of an overzealous librarian’s commitment to quiet. Instead, … Continue reading

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COVID-19, COBOL, and Y2K

One of the grim ironies of a disaster is the way in which it reveals just how little has been learned from past disasters. In some cases, these unheeded lessons … Continue reading

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What studying disasters has taught me about COVID-19

“Civilization, the orderly world in which we live, is frail. We are skating on thin ice.” – Zygmunt Bauman.   For the last several years, when people have asked me … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The First Week

It is said that during the plague the bard wrote King Lear. Perhaps, but how many did not live to see it performed? * When they said “go out” I … Continue reading

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How not to get sick at the library

There is nothing to be gained from obfuscation, so let us be clear, there is a growing level of concern about the coronavirus COVID-19. There is absolutely no reason to … Continue reading

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Democracy is too important to trust it to an app

It’s easy to ignore complex technological systems when they are functioning properly. So long as the system fulfills its basic promise of making it a bit easier or more efficient … Continue reading

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The End of the World?

Except  this star there is nothing, I thought, and it Is a wasteland. It is our only refuge and this Is what it looks like. – Brecht   1. First, … Continue reading

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General Ludd in the Long Seventies – a review of Matt Tierney’s “Dismantlings”

The guy said, “If machinery makes you so happy go buy yourself a Happiness Machine.” Then he realized: They were trying to do exactly that. – Kenneth Burke, “Routine for … Continue reading

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In Defense of Jonah

On December 17, 1972, at the occasion of his receiving the National Book Award, the social critic Lewis Mumford gave a rather odd acceptance speech. It featured many of the … Continue reading

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Hashtags Lean to the Right – a Review of Jen Schradie’s “The Revolution that Wasn’t”

Despite the oft-repeated, and rather questionable, trope that social media is biased against conservatives; and beyond the attention that has been lavished on tech-savvy left-aligned movements (such as Occupy!) in … Continue reading

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Be Afraid! But not that afraid? – on Climate Doom

People on social media would have really hated Cassandra. Her constant barrage of doleful warnings would just be dismissed of as hyperbolic and unhelpful. Those who did engage with her, … Continue reading

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From Megatechnic Bribe to Megatechnic Blackmail: Mumford’s ‘Megamachine’ After the Digital Turn

Without even needing to look at the copyright page, an aware reader may be able to date the work of a technology critic simply by considering the technological systems, or … Continue reading

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“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 1

Remember these last words, they are the entire story of man in the past, they will also be his entire story in the future. – Eugene Huzar Translator’s Introduction Near … Continue reading

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Why the Luddites Matter

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood, His feats I but little admire I will sing the achievements of General Ludd Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire – … Continue reading

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Understanding Fascism – making sense of dark times – a reading list (expanded 10/20/17)

“No other method exists for acquiring knowledge about the human heart than the study of history coupled with experience of life, in such a way that the two throw light … Continue reading

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An island of reason in the cyberstream – on the life and thought of Joseph Weizenbaum

The juxtaposition between the potential of technology and its actual manifestation can be rather jarring. Tools that promise to make tasks easier are used to automate people out of their … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Sixty-Sixth Week

Stop being foolish things cannot go back to how they once were for you cannot now go back to confidently believing that your society is impervious to a pandemic. * … Continue reading

June 25, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Fifth Week

When I speak to my friends in other countries about how I can now go about maskless and gather with others they look at me with envy. When I speak … Continue reading

June 18, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Fourth Week

We devotesingle daysto rememberingso that we can devotemost daysto forgetting. * Perhaps in some future yearwe shall commemorate the plague’s victimswith a weekend saleon tires and clothes. * I confessI … Continue reading

June 9, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Third Week

My apologies I do not wish to ruin your week when it has only just begun but as you remove your mask and bask in the idea of a return … Continue reading

June 4, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Sixty-Second Week

So long as the plaguewas over therewe told ourselvesit would never bother usover here. And when the plaguewas over herewe told ourselvesit would not bother usfor long. So now that … Continue reading

May 25, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – the Sixty-First Week

It is difficult to writewhen your handswill not stop shaking. * It is better to achefrom your second shotthan to shudderfrom contracting the virus. * At moments your bodyaching and … Continue reading

May 21, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Sixtieth Week

Were we asleepwe could be forgivenfor believing dreamsto be realityfor babbling nonsensefor the havoc causedby our snoring somnambulismsleepers cannot be blamedfor what they doalas we who are awakehave no excuse. … Continue reading

May 14, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Ninth Week

Though the plague continueslife has returnedto normal(in very many places)for normalis the description we useto describe our worldwhen the crises that surround ushave ceased to be extraordinaryand have instead becomethe … Continue reading

May 7, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Eighth Week

Whenever I hear it saidthat the time has cometo take off our masks(at least when out of doors)I prepare myselffor the plague to continueeven longer. * Our impatiencein the springwill … Continue reading

April 27, 2021 · 3 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Seventh Week

Begin every weekby telling yourselfthat perhapsnext weekwill mark the plague’s end. With such an attitudeyou can find the resolveto continue trudging aheaduntil you find yourselfat the start of next weekwhen … Continue reading

April 23, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – the Fifty Sixth Week

The less we speak about the plaguethe more we sayabout the plague times. * Only a cynic refuses to be impressed by the well executed cleanup that occurs in the … Continue reading

April 16, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Fifth Week

Forgive meI do not meanto ruin your weekwhen it has only justbegunbut you should knowthat the case number(yet again)are rising. * After more than a yearunhappily stuckinsidehow easy it isto … Continue reading

April 9, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Fourth Week

That which makesthe tragedy unbearableis that the worldcarries on. That which makesthe tragedy bearableis that the world carries on. * Two signs hangin the shop’s windowthe first reads“mask required for … Continue reading

March 31, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Third Week

Let not your excitementfor your impending vaccinationconvince youthat this avoidable tragedythat this historic failureshould in any waybe hailedas a success. * When first they told meto stay homeI was willing … Continue reading

March 26, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-Second Week

It is not that this week marks the anniversary of the plague but that this week marks the anniversary of our no longer being able to pretend that the plague … Continue reading

March 19, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fifty-First Week

Though words of warning had been spoken they were said at a low volume you can be forgiven for failing to hear them over the loud assurances not to worry … Continue reading

March 11, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Fiftieth Week

Some outlets claim that half a million have died as of yesterday. Some outlets will claim that half a million have died by this day’s end. Some scholars quietly suspect … Continue reading

March 5, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Forty-Ninth Week

In the winter it becomes dry so very dry in my apartment the skin on my hands cracks my throat grows raspy every winter I intend to but forget to … Continue reading

February 25, 2021 · 3 Comments

Plague Poems – The Forty-Eighth Week

It is unwise to celebrate in the lifeboat mistake not your relief at being plucked from the waters with the safety of the shore you remain at sea and lifeboats … Continue reading

February 19, 2021 · 2 Comments

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