LibrarianShipwreck

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

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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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

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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

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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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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

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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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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

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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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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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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

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Fifth Week

Of course we know that there are events occurring in the world other than the plague but that does not mean that we can blithely ignore the plague. * Prometheus … Continue reading

August 27, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Fourth Week

How distressing it is to be reminded that this wretched pandemic is not the only worsening catastrophe in which we are embroiled. * We can howl with grief. We can … Continue reading

August 20, 2021 · 2 Comments

Reference desk: job list

Despite — and partially because of — the pandemic related turmoil of the last year and a half, there are a lot of library jobs out there right now. While … Continue reading

August 20, 2021 · Leave a comment

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Third Week

How exhausting it is to begin your week knowing that by week’s end the situation will have become even more dire. And how exhausting it is when you come to … Continue reading

August 13, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Seventy-Second Week

I would not be so bold as to now predict exactly how much longer the plague will last for I will admit that it has already lasted longer (much longer) … Continue reading

August 4, 2021 · 2 Comments

Plague Poems – The Seventy-First Week

My father (who missed us) keeps looking at the familyassembled together hereand proudly declaring that“we all got through this”because I know how worriedhe has beenbecause I know how worriedhe still … Continue reading

July 29, 2021 · 2 Comments

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

July 22, 2021 · 2 Comments

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

July 15, 2021 · 2 Comments

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

July 7, 2021 · 2 Comments

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

July 2, 2021 · 2 Comments

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

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