Posts Tagged ‘Musings’

OK OK so I know that there are fears being raised about stalking using google’s new goggles service but…


… ain’t it the coolest thing ever?

I admit I have raised myself on a steady diet of science fiction, but I seriously like the idea of the kind of context that I hunger for and already use the net to provide coming to me this easily. Sure I enjoy using my creativity to massage search terms when looking for an unknown, but why should I when I can just scan?

Picture this: LIANZA 2020. A familiar face comes across the floor towards you… but no name arises. A subtle gesture, unobservable to the outsider, and a list of likely suggestions for the person in front of you scroll up on your glasses.

Privacy shmivacy. I’ve got a bad memory for names in my 30s and this is going to help in a decade’s time.


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From the past…

We’re trialling the Times Literary Supplement Archive (1902-2005) at the moment and I thought I’d have a bit of a play and see what I could find.

I searched for “librarian” on a whim limiting to articles. (I didn’t do that initially and got thousands of situations vacant for librarians. Out of interest, in 1976 the salary range for a “chartered librarian” was £3,000 – 6,000.)

Anyway, I came across a few little gems:

Libraries and Bibliography
Article by Thursfield, James Richard, Sir
The Times Literary Supplement.
August 8, 1902.  Page 235.

‘“The true University of these days,” said Carlyle, “is a collection of books.” For all who take knowledge seriously and pursue it strenuously the library has superseded the professor.’

Hmm, people often think that the Internet has superseded libraries!

And there was a bit of a discussion raging in the paper on the purpose of a free library:

The Function of Free Libraries
Letter by Johnson, Austin H.
The Times Literary Supplement.
November 1, 1917.  Page 529.

‘…the true function of a free library, which is to cater for the ordinary reader (with limited means) in his leisure, not to help any specialist, and certainly not to assist the man in his business or profession.’

I wonder what those public librarians among us think of that?

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Twitterfiction is the latest thing apparently. It consists of writing stories within the 140 character constraints of Twitter. Neil Gaiman who recently won a Hugo award for his latest children’s’ book, “The Graveyard Book” (about ghosts who adopt a toddler, orphaned after his family are brutally killed, and raise him in the graveyard….) is someone who offers these extremely short stories. Apparently it is part of an experiment with the BBC. You can join Neil at @neilhimself

So is Twitterfiction an example of digimodernism? What is digimodernism? Is it a new form of fiction? Or is it just a new way or medium of expression?

Apparently Alan Kirby, a specialist in 20th century literature and culture, is defining digimodernism as “an exploration of cultural shifts in the aftermath of postmodernism”. He has written a book entitled, Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture. (Continuum, 2009).

I’ve just got my hands on a copy of this book, it hasn’t even been processed yet! One of the perks of librarianship, I guess. In it, Kirby states that digimodernism is a complete break from postmodernism which arose from modernism. Digimodernism is a conceptually autonomous cultural dominant (paraphrasing here).

So what is it? Well, digimodernism is about creating new forms of text, and new relationships between authors and readers. The dominant features include ‘onwardness’ or the growing and incomplete nature of the text, it has a beginning but possibly no end; ‘haphazardness’ describes the possibility of “multiple directions” of the text meaning that it can go off in unknown directions; ‘evanescence’ in short the digimodern text “does not endure” it is difficult if not impossible to preserve or archive; the ‘reformulation and intermediation of textual roles’ which is the “radical redefinition of textual functional titles: reader, author,” etc; ‘anonymous, multiple and social authorship’; ‘electronic-digitality’ which basically means “it’s the textuality that derives from digitization” (pp52-53).

Some of these traits can probably be seen in Twitterfiction, although Kirby doesn’t mention this specifically. In the Gaiman example above, readers can tweat back or comment immediately on the ‘work’ if one can call it that. Readers can become authors themselves by adding to it, like one of those old parlour games.

So why do I mention it here? If cultural forms of text and communication are changing in such a radical way, as we know they are – we can see it all around us – what are the implications for the future of libraries and librarians? If authors are for example “multiple and anonymous” how do we catalogue that? How do we capture a digimodernist text and preserve it? Should we be doing that? Can we do it?

P.S. Neil Gaiman’s twitterfiction tweat?

“Sam was brushing her hair when the girl in the mirror put down the hairbrush, smiled and said, ‘We don’t love you anymore”

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