Posts Tagged ‘books’
Having a citizenship means that you have a place in the world, an allegiance to a state. That state is supposed to guarantee you certain rights, like freedom from arrest, imprisonment, torture, or surveillance – depending on which state you belong to. Hannah Arendt famously said that “citizenship is the right to have rights”. To tamper with ones citizenship is to endanger ones most fundamental rights. Without citizenship, we have no rights at all.
Algorithmic Citizenship is a form of citizenship which is not assigned at birth, or through complex legal documents, but through data. Like other computerised processes, it can happen at the speed of light, and it can happen over and over again, constantly revising and recalculating. It can split a single citizenship into an infinite number of sub-citizenships, and count and weight them over time to produce combinations of affiliations to different states.
Citizen Ex calculates your Algorithmic Citizenship based on where you go online. Every site you visit is counted as evidence of your affiliation to a particular place, and added to your constantly revised Algorithmic Citizenship. Because the internet is everywhere, you can go anywhere – but because the internet is real, this also has consequences…
Citizen Ex, co-commissioned by The Space and created for Southbank Centre’s Web We Want festival, allows one to explore what citizenship might mean in an ever more wired world. Pledge allegiance at “Algorithmic Citizenship.”
* Francis Bacon
As we hurry home, we might recall that it was on this date in 1801 that the American Company of Booksellers, one of the first trade associations of booksellers in the U.S., was formed. The ACB lasted only four years, before rattling apart amidst members’ accusations of unfair competition against each other. Several other such attempts were similarly stillborn over the 19th century– until 1900, when the American Booksellers Association was founded.
Just because you CAN design your own book cover doesn’t mean you SHOULD.
* Charles Dickens
As remind ourselves of Groucho Marx’s insight: “outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend; inside of a dog it’s too dark to read,” we might recall that this is a big date in the annals of English letters… It was on this date in 1842, that Alfred, Lord Tennyson, published Poems. While the future Poet Laureate had been writing for a decade, it was this two-volume release (which included “Ulysses” and Morte d’Arthur”) that made his name.
And on this date in 1925, Virginia Woolf published the story of a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway– one of Time‘s “100 Best Novels since 1923″ (2005).
The most common assumption about romance novels, buoyed by the success of Fifty Shades of Grey, is that they are anti-feminist. And though the so-called bodice rippers of the 1970s (in which men who look like Fabio ravish passive sweethearts) are still quite popular, the genre has also expanded rapidly in recent years to include fiction of the paranormal, gay, evangelical, steampunk, time travel and Gothic variety (and many more). Its female leads, in many contexts, have evolved with the times, rendering the notion that romance novels are full of oppressed, unthinking women, profoundly ignorant. Not only is the industry itself rife with female entrepreneurs; its heroines always get what they want. In fact, the only formula that rings true across all romance novels is the HEA: the Happily Ever After. It is unanimously believed to be the defining principle of the genre. “The women always win,” says [filmmaker Laurie] Kahn. “And that doesn’t happen in most places.”…
* Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
As we still our pounding hearts, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that the Illuminati was founded. While the name has been given to a number of organizations– real and imagined– over the years, this first incarnation was real enough. It was started by Adam Weishaupt, the only non-clerical professor at the Jesuit University of Ingolstadt– an experience that turned him into a rabid anti-cleric. He first tried to become a Freemason, but couldn’t afford the initiation fees and dues; so he created his own organization– the Iluminatenorden, or Order of Illuminati. In some ways a typical Enlightenment secret society, the Illuminati’s goals were to oppose superstition, obscurantism, religious influence over public life, and abuses of state power. And like other secret societies with similar goals, it was pretty promptly outlawed by the State at the urging of the Church. Still, rumors persisted– and persist still– that the Illuminati built a world-wide conspiracy of powerful folks who pull the world’s strings from behind the curtain.
“The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries”*…
Jonathan Basile, a Brooklyn author and Borgesian Man of the Book, taught himself programming so that he could recreate Borges’ Universal Library [the Library of Babel, which “contained all books”] as a website. The results are confounding. A true site-as-labyrinth, Basile’s creation is an attempt to write and publish every story conceivable (and inconceivable) to man. In the process, Basile encountered new philosophical conundrums, French rappers, and unheard-of porno search strings. The possibilities, after all, are endless…
* Jorge Luis Borges, “The Library of Babel” [“La Biblioteca de Babel”]
As we renew our Library cards, we might recall that it was on this date in 1667 that John Milton sold the rights to Paradise Lost to printer/publisher Samuel Simmons for £10. Milton, who’s worked for Cromwell, was on the outs in those early days of the Restoration. (Indeed, Simmons kept his name off the title page [below], naming only his sellers.)
That original edition was structured into 10 sections (“books”). Milton revised his work and reordered it into 12 books, the form we know today; it was published in the year of his death, 1674. While his motive may well have been, as some critics have suggested, to emulate the structure of Virgil’s Aeneid, a second payday probably also figured in.
“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass”*…
In the first decade of the 20th century, Edward Stratemeyer formed the Stratemeyer Syndicate. As the head of the group, he commissioned writers to create quickly-written, formulaic juvenile novels; authors received short outlines, and returned book manuscripts within a month. As Meghan O’Rourke writes in The New Yorker,“ Stratemeyer checked the manuscript for discrepancies, made sure that each book had exactly fifty jokes, and cut or expanded as needed,” The syndicate’s popular protagonists included the Hardy Boys,Nancy Drew, Tom Swift, and the Bobbsey Twins, along with many that are now unfamiliar, like the Outdoor Girls, the Motion Picture Chums, and the Kneetime Animal Stories.
In this two-page outline for the 1927 Hardy Boys mystery The House on the Cliff, Stratemeyer directed writer Leslie McFarlane in the construction of the plot of the second book in the franchise’s original series. The book was officially published as the work of Franklin W. Dixon, a fictional author whose name appears on all of the Hardy Boys books.
Stratemeyer, who grew up reading the Horatio Alger and Oliver Optic book series, was himself a writer of boys’ fiction. As Meghan O’Rourke wrote in the New Yorker in 2004, Stratemeyer was publishing his own series fiction—the Rover Boys, the Motor Boys—when he figured out a way to bridge two oppositional strains of children’s literature: “the nineteenth century’s moralistic tradition and the dime novel’s frontier adventures.” Stratemeyer’s books would be sold in hardback, thereby appearing “respectable” to parents, while containing adventure stories that were just as appealing to kids as cheap stories of the dime novel type…
James Keeline, who researchs the history of the Syndicate and granted me permission to run these scans of the Hardy Boys document, has put several other Stratemeyer outlines up on his site.
* Eudora Welty
As we turn the page, we might send a combo birthday and St Patrick’s Day greeting to Catherine “Kate” Greenaway; she was born on this date in 1846. Creator of books for children such as Mother Goose (1881), Little Ann (1883), & The Pied Piper of Hamelin (1889), she was one o fte most the most accomplished illustrators of her time– and the inspiration for The Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded annually by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals in the U.K. to an illustrator of children’s books.
When it comes to cover design, the science fiction genre is often accused, along with romance novels, of having the most godawful cover design going. With their typical brilliance in style, Penguin embraces all the good, the bad and the comically ugly in traditional sci-fi design with their science fiction series. From the campy cartoon-style creatures and ridiculous, buxom alien babes of space opera, to the darkly stylized futuristic cities in dystopian futures Penguin covered it all with story selection and cover illustration…
Confidently judge books by their covers at “Penguin’s Science Fiction.”
[TotH to @MartyKrasney]
* Stephen Wright
As we travel through space and time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Arthur K. “Spud” Melin patented the Hula Hoop. In fact, both Melin’s company, Wham-O, and others had been selling millions of Martex (plastic) hoops since the late 50s. Melin’s innovation was an improved version- which, by virtue of the intellectual property protection, was available only from Wham-O.
No sensation has ever swept the country like the Hula Hoop. It remains the standard against which all national crazes are measured.
– Richard A. Johnson, American Fads
Gas stations have long been synonymous with cold pizza, dried-out doughnuts and mediocre hot dogs rotating on unappetizing roller grills. But in cities like Miami, Kansas City, and even Saxapahaw, N.C., among others, patrons can fuel up on gourmet grub and top off their tanks in one stop…
Gas stations for a long time have been a low-margin business. Owners typically make their real profits not on fuel sales but on the snacks and other items customers purchase when they come inside the station. These latest gas station eats are just taking that business model up a notch or two…
Fill ‘er up at “The Joys of Good Gas Station Food.”
* “Clark Griwold” (Chevy Chase), National Lampoon’s Vacation
As we pull in to take out, we might send tasty birthday greetings to the culinary genius behind green eggs and ham, Theodor Seuss Geisel, AKA “Dr. Seuss”; he was born on this date in 1904. After a fascinating series of early-career explorations, Geisel settled on a style that created what turned out to be the perfect “gateway drug” to book addiction for generations of young readers.
The more that you read,
The more things you will know.
The more that you learn,
The more places you’ll go.
– I Can Read With My Eyes Shut! (1978)