A utopian place of criticism

Lorcan 1 min read

I used two quotes in a (long) article written some time ago of which I am reminded from time to time.

Technologists understand that they must build more stable and unobtrusive media. They must establish more coherent contexts into which the technology may disappear.
Malcolm McCullough. Abstracting craft: the practiced digital hand.

According to the French critic Christian Jacob, Callimachus’s library was the first example of a “utopian place of criticism, in which the texts can be compared, opened side by side”. With Callimachus, the library became an organized reading-space. Manguel, Alberto. A history of reading.

I liked them because each spoke to the topic we were looking at: how to create digital library environments where the means did not stand in the way of the ends.
Anyway, they came to mind again when I saw Caveat Lector’s note about the high transaction costs of interacting with e-journals. Another example of unhelpful fragmentation, where the pattern of supply does not match the pattern of need.

I note with no small amusement that I’m going to use the paper journals rather than full-text online whenever possible–yes, me, Ms. Electronic Text. I know where all the journals are in the SLIS library; they’re in a very small physical space. I can haul the Silver Surfer to campus, dig up and flip through dozen print articles off my DIALOG list, and annotate the good ones in much less time than it typically takes to navigate umpteen bloody database screens to get to full-text. [Caveat Lector � Tomorrow’s plan]

Incidentally, the Malcolm McCullough book is one of the most suggestive I have read in a long time.

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