Odyssey Online

Entries from February 2014

Reading the Winter Away

February 17th, 2014 · Comments Off on Reading the Winter Away

Reading has been in the news in the new  year.  Given the winter that has leviathan like levitated over much of the country, it has been a good winter to read–to stay indoors with a book in hand an a large warm ironstone mug of tea at the ready.  About a month ago the Pew Research Internet Project published a report on reading enthusiastically titled E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps (the good folks at the Pew Research Internet Project have been chronicling all the doings the young and old have with all things digital for quite some time), and while they are indeed much preoccupied with E-Reading they include a glimpse of the sum total of the American reading public (click the table to enlarge):

e-readers7The narrative that accompanies tabulated is here, while E-Reading is expanding, there is a fairly healthy numbers in the Print category…turning reading into a matter of quantitative dissection is, well, worth a retort something like Groucho Marx’s “Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read” (which happily returns us to our reading inside in cold weather metaphor). The inspired madness of Marx’s quip speaking to the essential aspect of reading, that we can no more do without our dogs than our books, why do you ask?  This gets to the question of the reader’s lifetime, recently Amazon.com published it’s list of 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime and while Amazon.com is no public library, it’s a good list.  It’s a list that was constructed with a life in mind, with remembering reading as Sven Birkerts did in his book Reading Life: Books for the Ages “I miss those days, the excitement of wandering, that sense of the book as an entity that could hold just about anything between its covers.” Remember that kind of reading?  Look at the list from Amazon and the last book on the grid lower right, Where the Wild Things Are…

Tags: Books · Essay on Bibliography


February 5th, 2014 · Comments Off on ASCII Art

…while not exactly a topic of burning interest to libraries, Atlantic Online ran a well written essay that harkens back to the time when the Internet was made entirely of words, the character based Internet.  The time of gophers, usenet groups, telnet and FTP, the days of the blue “throbber” Netscape N:


A long time ago, remembered vividly in The Lost Ancestors of ASCII Art by Alexis C. Madrigal where he documents how people drew with keyboards, what people drew with keyboards, and how people will, as Madrigal puts it, “make art with anything.”  For those of us who can remember this green-or-orange-letters-on-a-black background Internet, the piece is evocative of the ‘Net that used to be–a Internet you might get a sense of by reading The Virtual Community: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier by Howard Rheingold, or Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte, or The Road Ahead by Bill Gates, or Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet by Sherry Turkle…

…or by watching the Telnet Star Wars, captured now, appropriately enough, as a youtube video…

Tags: Essay on Technology · Licklider's Legacy

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