King Phillip called out for good soup.King Phillip cut open five green snakes.Kant provides crazy ontology for graduate students.
Domain: Eukaryota (organisms which have cells with a nucleus)
Kingdom: Animalia (with eukaryotic cells having cell membrane but lacking cell wall, multicellular, heterotrophic)
Phylum: Chordata (animals with a notochord, dorsal nerve cord, and pharyngeal gill slits, which may be vestigial)
Subphylum: Vertebrata (possessing a backbone, which may be cartilaginous, to protect the dorsal nerve cord)
Class: Mammalia (warm-blooded vertebrates with hair and mammary glands which, in females, secrete milk to nourish young)
Subclass: Placentalia (giving birth to live young after a full internal gestation period)
Order: Primates (collar bone, eyes face forward, grasping hands with fingers, and two types of teeth: incisors and molars)
Family: Hominidae (upright posture, large brain, stereoscopic vision, flat face, hands and feet have different specializations)
Genus: Homo (s-curved spine, "man")
Species: Homo sapiens (high forehead, well-developed chin, skull bones thin)
|Epic poets||Writers on medicine|
As Rome developed, private libraries grew as wealthy citizens decorated their homes with books. Julius Caesar initiated a plan to build a public library in Rome, which was undertaken after his assassination. The library was divided into Greek and Latin works– a two-part division that would be modified in the Christian era into religious and secular works.
The long tradition of civic bibliophilia declined over time. In 378 AD, Ammianus, the last major Roman historian, wrote about a citizenry that had abandoned a love of knowledge for the pleasure of the flesh:
In place of the philosophers the singer is called in, and in place of the orator the teacher of stagecraft, and while the libraries are shut up forever like tombs, water-organs are manufactured and lyres as large as carriages, and flutes and huge instruments for gesticulating actors.
Ch. 5. Illuminating the dark age
When describing the contribution of Irish scribes to the preservation of written knowledge, Wright quotes from Thomas Cahill’s How the Irish Saved Civilization:
[The scribes] did not see themselves as drones. Rather, they engaged the text they were working on, tried to comprehend it after their fashion, and, if possible, add to it, even improve upon it. In this dazzling new culture, a book was not an isolated document on a dusty shelf; book truly spoke to book, and writer to scribe, and scribe to reader, from one generation to the next. These books were, as we would say in today’s jargon, open, interfacing, and intertextual–glorious literary smorgasbords in which the scribe often tried to include a bit of everything, from every era, language, and style known to him.
Wright then goes on to compare this to what many modern bloggers are attempting to do. The parallel might come to an ethos of self-directed writing with the introduction of a new technology– a promise of new forms of expression.
As Rome fell, and the great libraries were being destroyed, a nobleman named Cassiodorus abandoned the city and the increasing strength of the church to found a small monastery where he set about preserving the Roman literary heritage. This scriptorium he called the Vivarium, "a place for living things." The monks of the Vivarium pioneered new techniques of book production, introducing efficient new binding techniques and engineering a system for mechanical lighting to enable work on copying projects into the night. Cassidorus’ division of Christian and pagan writings would become the foundation of medieval libraries for the next thousand years.
A revival of book learning flourished briefly in Charlemagne’s court in the eighth century. Charlemagne found a suitable learned man, Alcuin, a scholar from York, to build his great library. Alcuin introduced a new style of script, Carolingian minuscule, to speed up copying. The typefaces of most books today are descended from Carolingian minuscule.
The collections in European libraries were paltry compared to their Islamic counterparts. Prior to its fall to the Mongols in 1258, Baghdad had no fewer than 36 libraries, supplied by more than 100 book dealers.
The circuitous path of ancient books into the Arab world:
– Emperor Justinian closes the great school of Athens
– seven prominent teachers leave Athens to find refuge in Persia, and they take their books with them
– hundreds of translaters (mostly Hellenized Syrians) translate the great works of antiquity from Greek to Persian
– the Arabs conquer Persia, and proceed to translate the works into Arabic
Ch. 6. A steam engine of the mind
Wright describes the rise of textual communities– communities that coalesced around particular documents published by the newly invented printing press. Instead of being dependent upon the scholastic elite, the literate populace could share and rally around particular texts. The most famous examples are Luther’s 95 theses and Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence.
Ch. 7. The astral power station
Francis Bacon – restructuring the enterprise of scholarship by emphasizing induction, which is reasoning from direction observation, and collaborative scholarship that viewed knowledge as a cumulative enterprise.
Inherent human limitations have to be overcome, according to Bacon, and these he called "idols":
Idols of the Cave. The problem of subjectivity– our personal biases.
Idols of the Tribe. The problem of human limitations, such as our perceptual constraints.
Idols of the Marketplace. The problem of socially constructed meaning, such as the vagaries of the human language.
Idols of the Theatre. The problem of belief, such as our mythologies, religious beliefs, or ideological convictions.
Bacon’s classification of all human knowledge was based on the three essential faculties: memory, reason, and imagination. In more familiar terms, these three can be categories are called history, philosophy, and poetry. "Diderot would embrace Bacon’s scheme as the foundation of his great encyclopedia; Jefferson would later adopt it as the basis for organizing his own personal library, the foundation for the Library of Congress; and, Melvil Dewey would acknowledge it as an influence on his decimal system."
Ch. 8. The encyclopedic revolution
Diderot’s encyclopedia mixed folk knowledge (cloth dying, metalwork, and glassware, etc.) with scripture, scholarship, and politics. Diderot’s encyclopedia was disruptive, but it presaged the French Revolution.
Ch. 9. The moose that roared
In 1787, while serving as ambassador to France, Thomas Jefferson had the remains of a moose brought over from the New World. At that time, there were two views of the animal world: fixed and ordered according to Linnaeus, or, constantly changing and forming a continuum, according to George-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. While Darwin would later credit Buffon as an influence, Buffon believed that species could degenerate as well, and that North American species represent a weaker set in nature. Jefferson challenged Buffon’s theory of American degeneracy with the moose corpse he had brought over. Buffon ended up revising his theories.
Influenced by Bacon, Thomas Jefferson organized his great library by subject, as well as chronology. His hierarchical classification system extended five levels deep, echoing the structure of ancient folk taxonomies.
Ch. 10. The industrial library
The father of the modern catalog, Anthony Panizzi, Chief Librarian of the British Museum Library 1856-1866, devised a carefully constructed classification system that reflect the universalist ambitions of the British Empire at the height of its powers. In addition, he designed the catalog to show the relationships between particular books. Any book can be a particular edition of a work, and a part of complex web of editions and translations. A catalog user should be able to see all the relationships. This distinction between the physical book and the intellectual work has been the basis of library cataloging ever since. Panizzi’s approach was revolutionary– he wanted to open up the library beyond its traditional audience of privileged men of letters. Library users had to search the catalog on their own and request books by call number– a burden to some who were used to asking the librarian to do everything. But Panizzi was determined to open the catalog up to everyone. When the catalog was finally completed and published in the 1850s it became an enormously popular reference work in its own right.
The great American cataloger, Charles Ammi Cutter, saw the purpose of the catalog as serving "common usage," not just the needs of scholars. Cutter helped to popularize the card catalog, and he devised a system of subject classification that would develop into the Library of Congress Classification (LCC).
Melvil Dewey’s famous went beyond his Dewey Decimal System of classification. He founded the first library school in Columbia University, cofounded (with Cutter) the American Library Association, and developed many library standards and equipment, such as a standardized card catalog.
In the twentieth century, Panizzi’s separation of physical book and intellectual work would take on new meanings as librarians, especially those in special libraries, saw themselves as knowledge workers in a world where information-intensive industries and organizations required a clearinghouse for both acquired material and internally-produced documentation. Over time, this documentalist approach would become the basis for the digital library.
Ch. 11. The web that wasn’t
The Internet’s long forgotten forefather? Paul Otlet, who died in 1944 in Belgium was a bibliographer, pacifist, and entrepreneur. He had played a role in the forming of the League of Nations. He had imagined a new kind of scholar’s workstation:
Here, the workspace is no longer cluttered with any books. In their place, a screen and a telephone within reach. Over there, in an immense edifice, are all the books and information. From there, the page to be read … is made to appear on the screen. The screen could be divided in half, by four, or even by ten, if multiple texts and documents had to be consulted simultaneously…. Cinema, phonographs, radio, television: these instruments, taken as substitutes for the book, will in fact become the new book, the most powerful works for the diffusion of human thought. This will be the radiated library, and the televised book.
Otlet invented the term "links" to describe this new model of networked documents. Otlet wanted to go farther than what the Dewey Decimal Classification offered, which was access to a book, but no farther. He went on to develop the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), now recognized as the first full implementation of a faceted classification scheme. In his masterwork Traité de documentation, he wrote that no document could ever be understood by itself, but that its meaning becomes clarified through mining its relationships with other documents. Otlet envisioned a system of associative trails between documents. This vision holds out the possibility of merging the formal ontologies of a top-down classification system with the bottom-up emergence of social networks.
Vannevar Bush, a prolific inventor and engineer, described an imaginary device called the Memex which captivated the imagination of many in 1945, after he published his landmark essay "As We May Think" in The Atlantic Monthly. He began musing about such a device in a 1933 essay in Technology Review called "The Inscrutable ‘Thirties":
The library, to which our professor probably turned, was enormous. Long banks of shelves contained tons of books, and yet it was supposed to be a working library and not a museum. He had to pore over cards, thumb pages, and delve by the hour. It was time-wasting and exasperating indeed…. The idea that one might have the contents of a thousand volumes located in a couple of cubic feet in a desk, so that by depressing a few keys one could have a given paper instantly projected before him, was regarded as the wildest sort of fancy.
Bush saw the technical challenges facing libraries as neglected because so much of the technological agenda was driven by corporate interests. While computers helped businesses, libraries were being left behind. He saw that a human-centered, individualistic computer revolution could not happen when the development of computers was driven by profit for businesses. Bush never saw his Memex as a tool for business. Even the personal computer revolution of the late 1970s and 1980s did not bring about all the benefits of the Memex. The associative trails did not work in a hierarchical file system. Even the web browser did not match the two-way authoring environment of the Memex, since a web browser is one-way, and content creation still has to be mediated through a remote service. A Memex-based web would mean that hyperlinks are permanent.
Ted Nelson in the 1960s was the anti-establishment force that furthered the development of the computer as a personal information tool. He coined the term ‘hypertext’ in 1965.
Influenced by Nelson, a Brown University team in 1967 developed the File Retrieving and Editing System (FRESS). While the interface was primitive, the underlying hypertext system had features that the Web does not have today. A link from one document to another would always create a reciprocal link. Free-from keywords ("tagging" as we know it now) allowed users to create their own idiosyncratic met structure for document collection.
As hypertext systems continued to be developed for the Web, some interesting scholarship was done comparing hypertext to the literary scholarship of deconstruction. A key figure was George P. Landow, who, in his book Hypertext, promoted the idea of replacing conceptual systems founded on ideas of center, margin, hierarchy, and linearity, and replace them with ideas of multi-linearity, nodes, links, and networks.
The history of the Internet in the early 1990s intersects with my own discoveries of this wonderful new tool of information access. I remember Gopher, the nested menu browsing environment developed at the University of Minnesota. While the browsing was strictly hierarchical, the linked documents could be stored at any geographical location with a server.
In 1980, Tim Berners-Lee created the forerunner of the web browser called Enquire, based on the Victorian era almanac Enquire Within Upon Everything. Unfortunately, a hard disk crash wiped out all traces of that piece of software. In 1989, Berners-Lee released a new program: WorldWideWeb. It was designed for the NEXT platform, developed by Steve Jobs between his stints at Apple. I remember my excitement at seeing a NEXT computer at the University of Western Ontario.
When I was in library school in 1989 I had an Internet account which allowed me to have access to e-mail, telnet, gopher, ftp, and Usenet newsgroups. I was hooked. After leaving school, and with my student access expiring after six months, I was desperate to get Internet access again. Dial-up BBSs and CompuServe helped, but when an Internet Service Provider in Ottawa, Ontario put out an ad for beta testers in early 1993, I jumped at the opportunity. I remember installing a very primitive set of web tools, with a web browser that crashed frequently. Looking back now over many years I knew I had used Mosaic, followed by Netscape, but I think I had used an even earlier Windows-based web browser called Cello (Mosaic for Windows was not released until December 1993, so I must have used Cello for a brief time– although I think only CERN, NASA, and the Vatican had any web sites of interest at the time).
Interestingly, Alex Wright in his book Glut, mentions that some of the leaders of the Web world are disappointed with the current state. Ted Nelson and Tim Berners-Lee have expressed some despondent views. Some current limitations: "the evanescence of Web links, the co-opting of hypertext by corporate interests, and the emergence of a new "priesthood" of programmers and gatekeepers behind the scenes who still exert control over the technological levers powering the commercial Web."
Ch. 12. Memories of the Future
This chapter begins with a great quote from John Donne (from "An Anatomy of the World"):
And new Philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;
The Sun is lost, and th’earth, and no mans wit
Can well direct him where to look for it.
And freely men confess that this world’s spent,
When in the Planets, and the Firmament
They seek so many new; then see that this
Is crumbled out again to his Atomies.
‘Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone;
All just supply, and all Relation.
Alex Wright makes the point that the Web may be actually reflect ancient dispositions toward spoken language. The Web is not just about "publishing" but about "talk".
Difference between oral and literate cultures… "Oral traditions are additive rather than subordinative, aggregative rather than analytic, empathetic and participatory rather than objectively distanced, and situational rather than abstract." An example is Amazon where expert, literate, and authoritative reviews appear alongside "talk" reviews and ratings from customers. We look at customer feedback such as ratings for their additive and aggregative values.
What is the role of the library for oral and literate cultures? A lot of the discussion around Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 is about the values of participation and consensus — patterns of information development that may have existed in oral cultures. The future of libraries may be about achieving a balance between fixity and fluidity in the organization of information. The information systems of the future may have to reflect the reality that people thrive when both hierarchies and networks are in place.