This past spring, Google began feeding its natural language algorithm thousands of romance novels in an effort to humanize its “conversational tone.” The move did so much to fire the collective comic imagination that the ensuing hilarity muffled any serious commentary on its symbolic importance. The jokes, as they say, practically wrote themselves. But, after several decades devoted to task-specific “smart” technologies (GPS, search engine optimization, data mining), Google’s decision points to a recovered interest among the titans of technology in a fully anthropic “general” intelligence, the kind dramatized in recent films such as Her (2013) and Ex Machina (2015). Amusing though it may be, the appeal to romance novels suggests that Silicon Valley is daring to dream big once again.
This question — whether or not listening to an audiobook is “cheating” — is one University of Virginia psychologist Daniel Willingham gets fairly often, especially ever since he published a book, in 2015, on the science of reading. (That one was about teaching children to read; he’s got another book out next spring about adults and reading.) He is very tired of this question, and so, recently, he wrote a blog post addressing it. (His opening line: “I’ve been asked this question a lot and I hate it.”) If, he argues, you take the question from the perspective of cognitive psychology — that is, the mental processes involved — there is no real difference between listening to a book and reading it. So, according to that understanding of the question: No, audiobooks are not cheating.
All summer, kids have been hanging out in front of the Morris Park Library in the Bronx, before opening hours and after closing. They bring their computers to pick up the Wi-Fi signal that is leaking out of the building, because they can’t afford internet access at home. They’re there during the school year, too, even during the winter — it’s the only way they can complete their online math homework.
David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas is a popular choice for book groups around the world. But it turns out that American readers may be enjoying a rather different experience to those in Britain, after an academic uncovered “astonishing” differences between the US and UK editions of the award-winning novel.
Professor Martin Paul Eve of Birkbeck, University of London was writing a paper on Cloud Atlas, working from the UK paperback published by Sceptre, and from a Kindle edition of the novel, when he realised he was unable to find phrases in the ebook that he could distinctly remember from the paperback. He compared the US and UK editions of the book, and realised they were “quite different to one another”.
Museums can keep pace with the times and changing attendance rates by adopting a modern and interactive way of presenting the items on display. The AMLABEL Digital Gallery Display is an editable, real-time in-gallery digital label developed on electronic paper to replace existing gallery cards.
Librarians, of all groups, may not usually be associated with “bad-ass” fearlessness in the face of extreme violence. Yet in 2012, two of them secretly evacuated about 340,000 early Islamic manuscripts from archives in Timbuktu, when the ancient city was occupied by a coalition of al-Qaeda jihadists and Tuareg separatists. Joshua Hammer, an American journalist, has written a pacy and engaging account of this risky act of cultural salvation. Acting calmly and cannily, the heroes of the story loaded manuscripts into metal trunks and shipped them to safety up the River Niger under the noses of al-Qaeda. It is an inspiring story.
The manuscripts had been gathered from private homes and mosques across the Sahel by an enterprising archivist starting in the 1970s and later by his librarian son, Abdel Kader Haidara. These documents formed a detailed record of a humanistic, West African strand of Islam. Here's info on the book:
THE BAD-ASS LIBRARIANS of Timbuktu
And their race to save the world’s most precious manuscripts
288pp. Simon and Schuster. $26.
978 1 4767 774
McCahill told Berners-Lee that he would need to look at the Web more closely. But it wasn’t much to look at when McCahill went back to Minnesota and examined it. There were no graphics yet. It was still only running on NeXT computers. “I wasn’t feeling it,” McCahill says. I told him, ‘Tim, I don’t think so.’ Of course, I look back and say, ‘I might have been wrong.’ ”
Library anxiety is real. The phenomenon, which involves feeling intimidated, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by libraries and librarians, was first identified by Constance A. Mellon in 1986. Her paper, "Library Anxiety: A Grounded Theory and Its Development," reported that college students in particular are prone to library anxiety because they believe their research skills are inadequate, which makes them feel ashamed and unwilling to talk to the very librarians who might be able to ease their worries.
Still, the American Girl puberty books have managed to stay relevant for two decades, so I’m hopeful that they will continue to change with the times. And it’s promising to see that the series is taking baby steps toward loosening up its famously conservative brand. After all, for this tween growing up in the late ’90s, these books were a guide through a wilderness of raging hormones and new social pressures. I can only imagine how life-changing they’d have been if they’d taught me how to match my bra strap to my shirt.
We are pleased to announce an event on Aug. 16, 2016, to celebrate the union of Marcus Books and the African American Arts and Culture Complex (AAACC) in the Fillmore District of San Francisco. Over the past few months, Marcus Books and the African American Arts and Culture Complex have been collaborating on the details of their new partnership which will manifest as a bookstore within the first floor lobby of the complex.
Ideally positioned in King’s Cross, just a stone’s throw from the mythical beginning of the journey to Hogwarts on Platform 9 3/4, the British Library has announced it will be marking the 20th anniversary of the publication of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone next year with a new exhibition about JK Rowling’s wizarding world.
Hypertext is truly a new and unique environment. Artists who work there must be read there. And they will probably be judged there as well: criticism, like fiction, is moving off the page and on line, and it is itself susceptible to continuous changes of mind and text. Fluidity, contingency, indeterminacy, plurality, discontinuity are the hypertext buzzwords of the day, and they seem to be fast becoming principles, in the same way that relativity not so long ago displaced the falling apple.
The library where I work just received an irate letter from a patron who complained that we weren’t quiet enough, citing crying babies, ill-behaved children and library staff talking too loudly with patrons and with each other. Because I’ve always thought of my workplace as happily bustling rather than noisy, I logged onto Facebook, where I shared my story, then asked my fellow librarians, “Do you work in a quiet library? How quiet should a public library be?”
"It's kind of like a mini-Smithsonian, and when you go there, you normally you think you're going to get history and you're going to learn from them. If presidents want a museum of advertisement, don't turn it over to the federal government."
Book reading provides a survival advantage among the elderly (HR = 0.80, p < 0.0001).
Books are more advantageous for survival than newspapers/magazines.
The survival advantage of reading books works through a cognitive mediator.
Books are protective regardless of gender, wealth, education, or health.
"Data is better than your gut — yes, I have said that," says Dominique Raccah, publisher and CEO of Sourcebooks, a company that's been described as "data driven" — a description she does not dispute. She says sales data has been available for a while but now she has access to a different kind of information.
Libraries are timeless treasures.
Even as pulpy paperbacks get swapped out for electronic ink, we still crave a physical space where we can surround ourselves with knowledge. When done right, those spaces can be works of art.
To find the most beautiful libraries in each state, Tech Insider looked at past and current award-winners as judged by the American Institute of Architects and the American Library Association awards, and relied on our own judgment for states who have never won.
Make sure to give these a look on your next road trip.