LibrarianShipwreck

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Look Around – Yet Another Piece about “Don’t Look Up”

Truly, I live in the dark times! The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs Has simply not yet heard The terrible news. – … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninety-Fifth Week

Let us hope that in this new year we will not need to learn any more letters of the Greek alphabet. * There was the colleague then the casual acquaintance … Continue reading

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Inventing the Shipwreck

“Our societies have become arrhythmic. Or they only know one rhythm: constant acceleration. Until the crash and systemic failure.” – Paul Virilio “Conversations about technology tend to be dominated by … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninety-Fourth Week

Perhaps it was selfish at the very least it was naive but I had really hoped that just for that day I would be able to forget the plague I … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninety-Third Week

You who find yourselves unexpectedly ill after trying so hard after trying to stay safe after trying to be responsible must not view your sickness as a moral failing you … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninety-Second Week

It was this week two years ago when we started to see stories ominous stories about a virus spreading but we did not worry for it was happening over there. … Continue reading

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My Favorite Books from 2021

“We read books to find out who we are.” – Ursula K. Le Guin   I would like to say that I spent 2021 alternating between reading related to my … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninety-First Week

You have not survived the plague. You are surviving the plague. And your survival depends on understanding that distinction. * We wish to do the right thing the responsible thing … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Ninetieth Week

Surely there must be a better way to learn the letters of the Greek alphabet. * We are warned that if we are unwilling to change we shall wind up … Continue reading

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Against Technological Inevitability – On 20th Century Critics of Technology

“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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The Magnificent Bribe

“The bargain we are being asked to ratify takes the form of a magnificent bribe.”- Lewis Mumford (1964) “Nearly 50 years ago, long before smartphones and social media, the social … Continue reading

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Specters of Ludd – A Review of Gavin Mueller’s “Breaking Things at Work”

A specter is haunting technological society—the specter of Luddism. Granted, as is so often the case with hauntings, reactions to this specter are divided: there are some who are frightened, … Continue reading

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Imagine the End of Facebook

“On the one hand the computer makes it possible in principle to live in a world of plenty for everyone, on the other hand we are well on our way … Continue reading

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Librarian Was My Occupation – Remembering the Occupy Wall Street People’s Libary

In the fall of 2011, the angry shout of “we are the 99%!” could be heard echoing in localities big and small across the US. The movement had seemed to … Continue reading

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Don’t Fall for Facebook’s Trojan Horse

“What we use is not ours simply because we use it.” – Erich Fromm “With the release of its own smart glasses last week, Facebook seems to have learned from … Continue reading

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The Climate of Despair – Climate Change, COVID-19, and the Feeling of Impending Doom

“It is only for the sake of those without hope that hope is given to us.” – Walter Benjamin   Whenever the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issues … Continue reading

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Mergers, acquisitions, and my tinfoil hat

[nb: this is by your long-lost second blogger, who relocated to a large state university two years ago, rather than by the usual fellow who’s been keeping this boat afloat … Continue reading

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All our grievances do, in fact, remain connected

[hi, long-lost other writer here, apologies for the long absence] Two things got libraryland heated last week, and at first glance they have little to do with each other. First … Continue reading

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Technological Lessons from the Pandemic

“The public be damned is the private motto of the majority of our citizens: which means that they are damning themselves; and at a serious crisis like the present one, … 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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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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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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“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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Plague Poems – The Eighty-Ninth Week

By vehicle by train by airplane thus shall we travel this week to be together with one another. By vehicle by train by airplane thus shall the plague travel this … Continue reading

December 3, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Eighth Week

Tired and angry as you are be aware that by week’s end you will be exhausted and furious. * At first they said the plague would never reach our shores. … Continue reading

November 26, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Seventh Week

According to the scale that I keep in my bathroom I weigh now more or less the same as I did when the pandemic began so I suppose this hollowness … Continue reading

November 16, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Sixth Week

The plastic skeletons have disappeared from the stores. The cardboard gravestones have been tossed into the recycling bin. The ghost in the tree is now just a sheet in the … Continue reading

November 12, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Fifth Week

If you wish to see the pandemic continue even longer by all means act as though it has already ended. * We will not stop to mourn. We will not … Continue reading

November 5, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Fourth Week

If you must worry do not focus on the plague instead worry that compared to the other challenges bearing down upon us addressing the plague has been easy. * Near … Continue reading

October 29, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Third Week

It is not that you are living in fear. But that even after so many months you are still living in a pandemic. * We are eager for the pandemic … Continue reading

October 20, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eighty-Second Week

It would be inaccurate to claim that the decline in new cases and the decline in daily deaths will mean that we shall stop paying attention to the pandemic. Such … Continue reading

October 15, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eighty-First Week

If you must name the current season do us all a favor and refer to it as the autumn thus may we enjoy the crispness in the air and the … Continue reading

October 6, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Eightieth Week

You need not know the exact number or the statistical details that will allow you to place that first number into a broad historic or population sized context for you … Continue reading

September 28, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Ninth Week

So you did not finish writing the novel you were going to write. So you neglected the sourdough starter you were going to bake with. So the weights You were … Continue reading

September 18, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Eighth Week

At the start of every month I tell myself that this is the month in which the pandemic will finally come to an end. Of course I know that I … Continue reading

September 17, 2021 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Seventh Week

Fortunately, I am not religious for if I were a believer I imagine that the sight of the four horsemen trotting back and forth across the headlines week after week … Continue reading

September 9, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Sixth Week

No matter how ardent is your attempt you will never succeed in keeping a hurricane from making landfall by standing alone on the beach and blowing at the sky. * … Continue reading

September 1, 2021 · 2 Comments

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