LibrarianShipwreck

Libraries, Archives, Technology, Impending Doom

“Atomic warfare means universal extermination”

In 1946, Lewis Mumford penned an article in The Saturday Review of Literature under the none-too-subtle title “Gentlemen: You are Mad!” Over the course of two pages Mumford denounced as … Continue reading

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A chip off technology’s block

Of the various characters who populate our computer dominated society, one of the most curious sorts is the “early adopter.” These are the figures found sprinting headlong to the frontier … Continue reading

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Against the “anti-technology” strawman

Have no doubts about the one who tells you he is afraid But be afraid of the one who tells you he has no doubts – Erich Fried 1) Somewhere … Continue reading

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The Apocalyptic Turn

It is a desperate deed to upbraid despair for despair makes our life what it is. It thinks out what we flee from. – Erich Fried 1) Thinking about apocalyptic … Continue reading

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It’s time to fix things – a review of “Move Fast and Break Things”

When the topic of monopoly is raised the first person that many people will think of is Rich Uncle Pennybags – that icon of monopolistic wealth accumulation – with his … Continue reading

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Amazon is hungry for more

Here is a joke: Question – Why did the online retailer renowned for its super cheap prices buy a brick and mortar grocery chain known for its ridiculously high prices? … Continue reading

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The users and the used

Woe be unto the tech company or platform that rolls out a new product or update and claims that it is in response to its users’ demands. For such action … Continue reading

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Apple is all ears

Once upon a time, if somebody claimed that there were microphones installed in their home that were listening in on their every word they would be dismissed as a paranoid … Continue reading

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“Thinking ad pessimum” – Notes Towards a Productive Pessimism

Even the Flood Did not last for ever. There came a time When the black waters ebbed. Yes, but how few Have lasted longer. – Brecht (“Reading Horace”)   1) … Continue reading

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Who moderates the moderators? On the Facebook Files

Speculative fiction is littered with fantastical tales warning of the dangers that arise when things get, to put it amusingly, too big. A researcher loses control of their experiment! A … Continue reading

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It’s ok if you want to cry…

If a message were to suddenly appear on your computer screen informing you that all of your material had been encrypted and that you would have to pay a ransom … Continue reading

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When real life emulates dystopia…it isn’t a good sign…

“If people are not aware of the direction in which they are going, they will awaken when it is too late and when their fate has been irrevocably sealed. Unfortunately, … Continue reading

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The world according to Facebook

The majestic plural, the royal “we,” is deployed by individuals in high positions seeking to cast their own opinions as the views of a much larger group for whom they … Continue reading

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Understanding Fascism – making sense of dark times

“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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My Favorite Books from 2016

There are many piles of books that exist in my life. Many. But the most notable of these are “the books I’ve read” versus “the books that I want to … Continue reading

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Prescience and Pessimism

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

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Things I learned while working as a reference librarian

Since November 2011 I have sat at a library’s reference desk. And though my job title has changed several times over the years, as of 5:31 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, … 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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Beyond the Prototype: Libraries as Convivial Tools in Action

How important are the technologies found in a library to the actual library? Are libraries simply places where various tools and technologies are used, or can libraries (themselves) be viewed … Continue reading

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How to make the most of your trip to the archive

Archival research is something of a rite of passage for many individuals in many disparate fields. Admittedly, it can be something of a daunting task. What follows is carefully curated … Continue reading

March 24, 2017 · 2 Comments

The problem isn’t the robots…it’s the bosses

Let us begin with two stories: Sam is nervous. Having applied for a job, Sam is now waiting to be interviewed for the position. Fidgeting slightly in the waiting room … Continue reading

March 17, 2017 · 2 Comments

Is Internet access a choice?

Sometimes the most interesting questions about how technology impacts society are raised unintentionally. Case in point: on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) went on CNN to explain … Continue reading

March 9, 2017 · 2 Comments

The Internet of Things…that spy on you

There is a sequence in the horror film 28 Days Later in which the protagonists find that they have to drive through a dark tunnel. As the car idles outside … Continue reading

March 3, 2017 · 1 Comment

Here’s looking at you…

If at first an ill-advised piece of consumer technology doesn’t succeed in winning over a skeptical public, you can be certain that another tech company will be willing to try … Continue reading

February 24, 2017 · 2 Comments

Don’t like what you see? – A review of Season Three of Black Mirror

“The future is not a blank page; and neither is it an open book.” – Lewis Mumford 1. When the daily news takes on a particularly grim sheen it can … Continue reading

February 3, 2017 · 1 Comment

Well…that happened – reflections on a joke

The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs Has simply not yet had The terrible news. – Brecht (“To Those Born Later”) Sometimes one … Continue reading

January 27, 2017 · 1 Comment

And the technophiles scramble…

“You still have to learn the ABC. The ABC says: They will get you down.” – Bertolt Brecht 1. The folksinger Woody Guthrie was known for putting the words “This … Continue reading

January 12, 2017 · 3 Comments

A Pessimistic Resolution

Every new year brings with it the promise of a fresh start, the promise that this year, unlike last year, we can finally get things right. Thus, the resolution-industrial complex … Continue reading

January 5, 2017 · 1 Comment

“I study the end of the world” – some personal reflections on 2016

“I think in view of all that has happened in the last half century, that it is likely the ship will sink.” – Lewis Mumford 1. What follows is a … Continue reading

December 29, 2016 · 6 Comments

What could go wrong? Another question to ask of new technology

Those who spend a lot of time traveling by airplane steadily grow accustomed to the standard spiel issued by members of the TSA and airline personnel. Yet, recently, a new … Continue reading

October 20, 2016 · 4 Comments

Google unveils more of the same

Here is a question: have you heard about the new smartphone that’s being released? Here is a completely legitimate way to answer the above question: which smartphone do you mean? … Continue reading

October 5, 2016 · 1 Comment

How to gut a book

Here is a problem: there are too many books to read and not enough time in which to read them all. What is one to do? Obviously, this is the … Continue reading

September 22, 2016 · Leave a comment

Guest post: #LIULockout

Pirates, here’s a guest post from our comrade Emily Drabinski, a librarian & faculty member at LIU Brooklyn here in NYC. The LIU Brooklyn faculty, who are unionized, have been … Continue reading

September 8, 2016 · 1 Comment

Ne'er do wells

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libshipwreck

  • The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs Has simply not yet had The terrible news. - Brecht 1 day ago
  • It's been a hell of a week, & next week might not be better. So, here's a picture of Hobgoblin & Dybbuk staring hop… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 1 day ago
  • Unfortunately there are no statues on these library shelves, just a lot of books. But I hear that you can still lea… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 1 day ago
  • Here are some boxes filled with archival material. Alas, no statues, but still - a pretty good way to learn about… twitter.com/i/web/status/8… 2 days ago
  • A quick note to new followers, this account consists of: 89% - pessimism 10% - bad jokes 1% - cat pictures You've been warned. 2 days ago