"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Seventh Week

A mantra for a Monday morning: I just have to survive one more week of this pandemic and then next Monday I shall wake up and repeat this mantra one … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Sixth Week

Now that the emergency has ended the CDC maps the nation’s current rate of plague deaths on a scale from minimal to high and while this is an understandable way … Continue reading

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Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Fifth Week

That our leaders and our institutions and our employers and even most of our neighbors have surrendered to the plague is the real emergency it is an emergency that persists. … Continue reading

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What I Wish I Had Known Before Writing My Dissertation

So, you’re getting ready to write a dissertation. Or, you’re contemplating going down a path that (if taken) will eventually require you to write a dissertation. Good for you. Normally, … Continue reading

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“Computers enable fantasies” – On the continued relevance of Weizenbaum’s warnings

“The computer has long been a solution looking for problems—the ultimate technological fix which insulates us from having to look at problems.” – Joseph Weizenbaum (1983)   Trying to keep … Continue reading

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No Such Thing as a Free Lunch : Labor in Open Source Systems Implementations

This post is adapted from a presentation I gave at the Amigos Library Technology Roadmap conference earlier this month. I supervise the library systems unit at a public R1 university … Continue reading

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A Luddite Library

“If the Luddites had never existed, their critics would have to invent them.” – Theodor Roszak   One way of telling that controversies about technology are intensifying is to watch … Continue reading

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Waiting for the Fail Whale – What Y2K can teach us about Twitter

“What we use is not ours simply because we use it.” – Erich Fromm   Breakdowns have an annoying habit of not arriving on time. It often seems as if … Continue reading

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Theses on the Techlash

“The problem is not to use technology but to realize that one is used by it.”- Paul Virilio   Once a term gets widely adopted by the press, and earns … Continue reading

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The Internet is Broken. Can We Fix It? – A Review of Ben Tarnoff’s “Internet for the People”

Can you remember the moment when you first suspected that there was something wrong with the internet? Was it when you started to get creepily specific targeted ads? Was it … Continue reading

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Life’s a Glitch – what the non-apocalypse of Y2K can teach us

As families watched from home, Dick Clark stood on the steps of the town hall hosting the final New Year’s Rocking Eve of the millennium. The excited crowd chanted the … Continue reading

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Where We’re Going, We’ll Probably Still Need Roads – a Review of Paris Marx’s “Road to Nowhere”

You can learn a lot about your society’s relationship to technology by looking at its streets. Are the roads filled with personal automobiles or trolley-cars, bike lanes or occupied parking … Continue reading

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Singing About the Dark Times – Theses on Doomerism

In the dark times Will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times. – Brecht   It sure seems like things aren’t going particularly … Continue reading

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Jonah, Cassandra, and the Doom-Sayers — Reading Lewis Mumford During the Pandemic

“If we would conquer the hell that now threatens to engulf us, we must not seek merely for a little less hell, we must not content ourselves with a sort … Continue reading

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“Technology in the Present Tense” – Notes from a Weary Luddite

“The future is not a blank page; and neither is it an open book.” – Lewis Mumford   1. Here is a confession from a weary, self-identified Luddite: For someone … Continue reading

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Balance of Terrors – on Günther Anders

“You should not begin your day with the illusion that what surrounds you is a stable world.” – Günther Anders It has been 70 years since Bert the Turtle instructed … Continue reading

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“I’m so sick of Y2K!” – A review of Y2K: The Movie

“I’m so sick of Y2K!”   Contrary to the stereotype that every disaster movie begins with the experts being ignored, there is at least one disaster movie that begins with … Continue reading

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“Things Just Go On” – More Theses on Doomscrolling

“That things just go on is the catastrophe” – Walter Benjamin. One of the risks of declaring victory is the possibility that your declaration will prove to have been premature. … Continue reading

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Fourth Week

When I despair my spiritual friend tells me to keep in mind that things may be rough here but that there are a nearly infinite number of world and realities … Continue reading

May 12, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Third Week

They say don’t be too presumptuous all of this is new nobody can honestly tell you what will happen to you after you’ve had it ten or twenty times, and … Continue reading

May 3, 2023 · Leave a comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-Second Week

Here is a joke: What does this latest concerning variant have in common with the previous concerning variant? This latest concerning variant like the previous concerning variant is sure to … Continue reading

April 28, 2023 · Leave a comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixty-First Week

Walking is good for you at least that’s what was said in an article I read the other day and that is surely a comforting idea to keep in the … Continue reading

April 21, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Sixtieth Week

Forgive me but I must confess that I do not find the claim that this virus which still ranks as the third leading cause of death is no longer a … Continue reading

April 14, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Ninth Week

At first, I told myself that I just had to make it to the summer then I told myself that I just had to make it to the vaccine after … Continue reading

April 7, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Eighth Week

The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a welcome reminder that the pandemic is not the only crisis where we know what we need to be … Continue reading

March 31, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Seventh Week

My apologies I am not trying to be pedantic but it is dangerous to confuse having survived three years of the pandemic with having survived the pandemic. * In case … Continue reading

March 24, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Sixth Week

We tell ourselves that the current affliction overwhelming all of us is a cold just a particularly brutal cold and because that is all it is we need not bother … Continue reading

March 17, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Fifth Week

We blame the pandemic for everything, it is at fault: for our unsatisfactory jobs and our dating prospects for our children’s grades and our political divisions. Yes, we blame the … Continue reading

March 10, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Fourth Week

I often wonder when it will be that my efforts will have been enough when I can stop with all of these precautions once and for all and go back … Continue reading

March 3, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Third Week

All of the attention on unidentified flying objects is a pleasant distraction from needing to think about the airborne virus we’ve identified. * Where once images of the cheering crowd … Continue reading

February 24, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-Second Week

While it is refreshing to see so many people grow concerned about an airborne threat I just wish that what worried them was the plague and not a balloon. * … Continue reading

February 17, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fifty-First Week

When she asks me to grab her one of the test-kits from the stack under the sink I notice that it expired months ago it is as if the test-kit … Continue reading

February 10, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Fiftieth Week

No one really cares if you are afraid just so long, that is, as you keep it to yourself if frightened you may be pitied but mainly you will be … Continue reading

February 3, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Ninth Week

Everybody loves a good post-apocalyptic tale for it reassures us that though the present moment may be quite bad the future could always be worse. * According to the news … Continue reading

January 25, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Eighth Week

I can acknowledge that I panicked during the first few days of the pandemic I stocked up on too much toilet paper and hand sanitizer bagged rice and dried beans … Continue reading

January 20, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Seventh Week

The year is new the plague is old. * A mantra for the start of the year: I will spend less time staring at screens and more time gazing at … Continue reading

January 13, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Sixth Week

When you unwrapped holiday gifts with your family I hope that you received exactly what you wanted and if what you received was not what you wanted I hope it … Continue reading

January 6, 2023 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Fifth Week

What sets this winter apart from last winter and the one before that is that this winter we really cannot pretend that we haven’t been warned. * The newspaper of … Continue reading

December 29, 2022 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Fourth Week

Is there a prayer to say at the start of a new wave? Yes, there is a prayer to say at the start of a new wave: I pray that … Continue reading

December 20, 2022 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Third Week

Please be advised: when they told you that you could bring a plus one to the holiday party they were not inviting you to bring the plague. * It’s nothing … Continue reading

December 16, 2022 · 1 Comment

Plague Poems – The Hundred-and-Forty-Second Week

When they hear you say that you are sick and tired they will ask if you mean it literally or figuratively to which you are free to reply with a … Continue reading

December 9, 2022 · 1 Comment

Ne'er do wells



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