(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘papyrus

“Man… generally cannot read the handwriting on the wall until his back is up against it”*…

 

Writing with stylus and folding wax tablet. painter, Douris, ca 500 BC

The wax tablet was an important contribution to the written culture of ancient civilizations because it was the first widely used device for casual writing, intended for individuals other than scribes. Before wax tablets, anything that was written down had to be considered of great and enduring importance. But once there is writing, there arises a need for temporary writing — a quick note to jot down and throw away the next day, an aid in calculating a math problem, a rough draft of a docu­ment that would later become permanent. All the other previous writing surfaces had been, for all intents and purposes, permanent. You could not bake a clay tablet to throw away the next day, or jot down something on an expensive scroll of papyrus and throw it away. And once something is literally carved in stone, it is figuratively ‘carved in stone.’ It can’t be unwritten. The wax tablet, therefore, was the original Etch A Sketch for the ancient world…

An excerpt from Paper by Mark Kurlansky, via Delanceyplace.com.

* Adlai E. Stevenson

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As we rock the stylus, we might recall that it ’twas on this date in 1852 (according to the stories) that Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick, Dr. John H. Watson, was born… while Holmes did occasionally say “Elementary!” (e.g., in “The Crooked Man”), he never actually said “Elementary, my dear Watson” to Dr. Watson in any of the stories/novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.  The phrase was actually a kind of homage, offered by P.G. Wodehouse, who first used it in Psmith Journalist in 1915; it found more common currency as it made it’s way into the scripts of the Sherlock Holmes films, perhaps most notably on the pursed lips of Basil Rathbone…

Ironically, it was on this date in 1930 that Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes’ creator, died.

Watson (left) and Holmes, as drawn by Doyle’s original illustrator, Sidney Padget

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (never actually seen in the room at the same time as Dr. Watson)

source

 

 

Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 7, 2017 at 1:01 am

Making history…

The folks at The Citizen Science Alliance, a transatlantic collaboration of universities and museums, are dedicated to involving everyone in the process of science.  Readers may know their wildly successful Galaxy Zoo project, which lets volunteer astronomers crowd-source the classification of objects captured by the Hubble Space Telescope…

Now, in collaboration with Oxford University, CSA has launched Ancient Lives— which invites any and all to help transcribe papyri belong to the Egypt Exploration Society, the texts eventually to be published and numbered in the Society’s “Greco-Roman Memoirs” series in the volumes entitled The Oxyrhynchus Papyri.

Readers have but to click here, then (using the interface pictured above) begin re-writing history.

 

As we satisfy our Indiana jones, we might recall that this date in 31 AD was the first Easter– according to Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Small, Dennis the Little or Dennis the Short– any/all of which have traditionally been taken to mean Dennis the Humble).  Dionysius invented the Anno Domini (AD) era (used to number the years of both the Gregorian and the [Christianized] Julian calendars); and at the request of Pope John I, calculated the date of the first Easter and created a table showing all future Easter dates.

 D.E., the coiner of “AD” (source)

Written by (Roughly) Daily

March 25, 2012 at 1:01 am

What’s Past is Prologue: The Future of the Book…

A guest post from Scenarios and Strategy (almanac entry added)…

“Special Glasses for Reading in Bed” source: Nationaal Archief

Much breath is being spent by the Chattering Classes predicting, debating, and otherwise worrying over the fates of the book, journalism, and publishing at large– broadly speaking: the creation, dissemination, storage, and use of knowledge itself.  Lots of jargon, a wealth of acronyms, and liberal use of facile analogies and constructs– it’s all a little dizzying.

Happily, Tim Carmody has ridden to the rescue. While he has mooted his own manifesto for the future of the book (eminently worth a read), his most recent contribution to the Science and Technology section of The Atlantic blog, is just what one needs in a Babel-like time such as this– some context.  In “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books,” that’s precisely what he provides as he recounts, for example, the move from rolled scroll to folded codex, the replacement of papyrus by parchment (and then paper), the shift from vertical to horizontal writing/reading, back to vertical…

It’s fascinating; it’s illuminating… and it’s a terrifically useful reminder that writing, reading– communicating– and the forms in which they’re done have always been in flux: “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books.”

As we pine for those iPads, we might recall that it was on this date in 1920 that radio station 8MK (later WBL, then WWJ) in Detroit became the first U.S. broadcaster to air regularly-scheduled newscasts.  The station, founded by the Scripps family and housed in their Detroit News headquarters, had gone on air 11 days earlier; then, after a period of testing, inaugurated its service with election returns.

Memoir of 8MK’s first employee (source)

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