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What is the library, when the totality of experience approaches that which can be remembered?’

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Monday, 10 Dec 2012, 21:11

‘What is the library, when the totality of experience approaches that which can be remembered?’ (Rausing, 2011:52)


Lisbet Rausing

Speaking at the Nobel Symposium 'Going Digital' in June 2009 (that ironically took another 2 years before it was published0.

Things are gong to have to speed up in the new age of digital academia and the digital scholar.

 

We have more than a university in our pockets (an OU course), we have a library of million of books.


(I have an iPhone and iPad. I 'borrow' time on laptops on desktops around the house, libraries at work).

I’ve often pondered from a story telling point of view what it would be like to digitize not the libraries of the world, but something far more complex, the entire contents of someone’s mind. (The Contents of My Mind: a screenplay) It is fast becoming feasible to pull together a substantial part of all that a person may have read and written in their lifetime. (TCMB.COM a website I launched in 2001)

 

‘Throughout history, libraries have depended on destruction’. (Rausing, 2011:50)


But like taking a calculator into a maths exam, or having books with you as a resource, it isn’t that all this ‘stuff’ is online, it is that the precise piece of information, memory support or elaboration, is now not on the tip of your tongue, but at your fingertips.

Rausing (2011) wonders about the creation of a New library of Alexandria. I wonder if we ought not to be looking for better metaphors.

 

‘How do we understand the web, when this also means grasping its quasi-biological whole?’ (Rausing, 2011:53)


Tim Berners-Lee thinks of Web 2.0 as a biological form; others have likeminds. But what kind of growth, like an invasive weed circling the globe?

There are many questions. In this respect Rausing is right, and it is appropriate for the web too. We should be asking each other questons.

‘Do we have the imagination and generosity to collaborate? Can we build legal, organisational and financial structures that will preserve, and order, and also share and disseminate, the learning and cultures of the world? Scholars have traditionally gated and protected knowledge, but also shared and distributed it, in libraries, schools and universities. Time and again they have stood for a republic of learning that is wider than the ivory tower. Now is the time to do so again’. (Rausing, 2011:49)

 

If everything is readily available then the economy of scarcity, as hit the music industry and is fast impacting on movies, applies to books and journals too.


It seems archaic to read the copyright restrictions on this Nobel Symposium set of papers and remarkable to read that one of its authors won’t see their own PhD thesis published until 2020.

‘The academic databases have at least entered the digital realm. Public access – the right to roam – is a press-of-the-button away. But academic monographs, although produced by digitised means, are then, in what is arguably an act of collective academic madness, turned into non-searchable paper products. Moreover, both academic articles and monographs are kept from the public domain for the author’s lifetime plus seventy years. My own PhD dissertation,19 published in 1999, will come into the public domain in about 110 years, around 2120’. (Rausing, 2011:55)

The e-hoarder, the obsessive scanning of stuff. My diaries in my teens got out of hand, I have a month of sweet wrappers and bus tickets, of theatre flyers and shopping lists. All from 1978. Of interest perhaps only because 10,000 teeneragers in the 1970s weren’t doing the same in England at the time.

 

‘We want ephemera: pamphlet literature, theatre bills, immigrant broad sheets and poetry workshops’. (Rausing, 2011:51)


What then when we can store and collate everything we read? When our thoughts, not just or writings are tagged and shared? Will we become lost in the crowd?

‘What if our next “peasant poet,” as John Clare was known, twitters? What if he writes a blog or a shojo manga? What if he publishes via a desktop, or a vanity publisher? Will his output count as part of legal deposit material?’ (Rausing, 2011:52)

The extraordinary complex human nature will not be diminished; we are what we were 5000 years ago. It will enable some, disable others; be matter of fact or of no significance, a worry or not, in equal measure.

A recent Financial Times article agrees with Robert Darnton, warning that by means of the Books Rights Registry, Google and the publishing industry have created “an effective cartel,” with “significant barriers to entry.” (Rausing, 2011:57)

Much to ponder.

‘If scholars continue to hide away and lock up their knowledge, do they not risk their own irrelevance?’ (Rausing, 2011:61)

 

GLOSSARY

Allemansratt : Freedom to roam

The Cloud : A Simple Storage Service that has some 52 billion virtual objects.

Folkbildningsidealet: A "profoundly democratic vision of universal learning and education"?

Incunabula: "Incunabula" is a generic term coined by English book collectors in the seventeenth century to describe the first printed books of the fifteenth century. It is a more elegant replacement for what had previously been called "fifteeners", and is formed of two Latin words meaning literally "in the cradle" or "in swaddling clothes"

Maimonedes :  His philosophic masterpiece, the Guide of the Perplexed, is a sustained treatment of Jewish thought and practice that seeks to resolve the conflict between religious knowledge and secular.

Meisterstuecke : German for masterpiece.

Samizdat : An underground publishing system used to print and circulate banned literature clandestinely.

Schatzkammer : ‘Treasure Room’, and in English, for the collection of treasures, kept in a secure room, often in the basement of a palace or castle.

Schumpeterian


REFERENCE

Ruasing, L(2011) (Last accessed 23rd May 2012) http://www.center.kva.se/svenska/forskning/NS147Abstracts/KVA_Going_Digital_webb.pdf )

 

Permalink 1 comment (latest comment by Anthony Dooley, Thursday, 24 May 2012, 09:26)
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Design Museum

H800:10 WK1 Activity 3 The way of the web and all technology? We just don't know what's going to happen next ...

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 31 Jan 2013, 05:58

I have in John Naughton’s own words, spent the best part of two hours 'bouncing' about Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web in search of a vital fact relating to this H800 task (no.3) concerning the Gutenberg, books and libraries; I failed, though I had a joyous time first in my own blog (started 1999, has the information I require, not tagged, poor archiving, couldn't find it, read loads of other stuff I'd forgotten about), then via Google and too often in Wikipedia, all to find out something on the Bodliean Library that is in a file in the shed and in my head (somewhere).

On visiting the Bodliean in the early 17th century I believe this person said that if he read all the books then held he'd know everything or some such. Do we suppose that the 3 million+ entries in Wikipedia are the sum total of world knowledge?

Never mind

Any answers?

Blogging for me ended 25 years of keeping a journal in a hard back book. The complete undoing of my life with books will be further undone with the purchase of an e-Reader (a Kindle, I get one tomorrow).

There could be no libraries without books and people to read them, nor universities that gather around the library’s finite resource. With the digital ‘liberation’ of books will traditional libraries and universities go the way of the OU too?

Hyperbole is symptomatic of invention

Prof. Gilly Salmon and Martin Weller, who have authored modules of the MAODE, are guilty of it. (Give me another two hours and I'll quote them and add references. I’ll do so in my OU BLOG).

I could in time drill through a year of reflection on great innovations from the book to the telegraph, courtesy of H807 ‘Innovations in E-learning’ and some extra reading I did over the summer on radio, film and TV, Edison and the phonograph and light bull.

Exaggeration reflects a human quest from improvement, and good sales talk.

It may distract thinkers from considering the wider consequences of technology change – though I suppose we are no better able to stop the future as Luddites exactly 200 years ago.

I won’t go along with some 'Law of Technology' unless there is some scientific and statistical evidence proof attached to it. It’s hardly Newton’s Law of Motion. I do buy the bell-curve elaborated fully in Roger’s seminal ‘Diffusion of Innovations.’

Nor do I buy Naughton’s idea that childhood ever ended at seven or twelve or fourteen.

All to be discussed elsewhere perhaps? The H800 cafe or OU Blog. My wife used to think I'd never grew up; I think I have in the last few months. I'm 50 in September. My late grand-father told me to 'enjoy it while you're young.' He's not around to see that I stretched his advice by a couple of decades. He left school at started work on his 14th birthday; did his childhood end that day? I've just been reading about Lady Anne Clifford. When her father died she was 15. Her battle and wishes to secure her inheritance started that day. This is 1605. She'd had a governess and tutor. Did she grow up that day or age 13 years 2 months when she joined the court of Queen Elizabeth? Journalist are generalists. They don't need to stick to facts, or cite sources or even stand up to peer review.

Is this the dumbing down of the OU or education's necesary slide into informality?

A product of the age, where we Twitter and network, forum thread, then use the same style to write assignments.

Innovators do it because they see a need and feel a desire to come up with an answer

For some it makes money (Bill Gates, Thomas Eddison) for others it does not (Tim Berners-Lee). Academicsdo it for reputation, and status (and indirectly salaries/stipends pension), whereas entrepreneurs do it to generate wealth.

The problem they solve both is a turning point at least, where one story ends and another begins.

H.G.Wells thought we’d all be flying around in lighter than air dirigibles rather than aeroplanes – predictions are fraught.

He got it right plenty of times though.

We may think that social networking has exploded upon us all of a suddent with Facebook. A BBC radio series on the history of Social Networking took as back to the 1970s. It reminded me of Minitel in France. There was (and still is) MySpace, remember. And Friends Reunited? Are you there yet? More like Friends Disjointed now.

To develop and maintain relationships in a fractured world but it is the personal relationship that we want with those who govern us that is having radical consequences for people in nations like Tunisia, Iran, China and Egypt in this linked in world.

Are you Linked In? Will it work so well with 300 million signed up, as it does with 90 million? Does it work? What is it for?  What are the unknown consequences? I'd better not say it, that would spoil the next decade.

Remember all that talk of the leisure time we'd had? Longer holidays and three day weeks because our lives would be so much easier to manage? Instead of working 9-5 we work through our sleep (indeed if you've read my early entries you'll realise that I rate rather highly my mind does for me once I am asleep).

Enough

Sleep

(Which will be a new challenge with a Kindle on the pillow)

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