Tag Archives: Books

The best books about social media that you’d never expect

There’s certainly no shortage of books on social media, social technologies and online communities that are invaluable reading for brands, marketers etc. But there are some excellent books on social media that actually have nothing to do with social media.

What do I mean here? The kind of books that are in completely different industries or written before social media actually existed, that contain principles and thinking that cross over seamlessly into social media. The nature of social media is that it can be influenced by so many other factors, both as a medium and an essential component of society and human communication.

Below are 7 books that I think are invaluable reads for those working in, or interested in, social media.

Continues here: thenextweb.com

Internet archivist seeks 1 of every book written – Yahoo! News

RICHMOND, Calif. – Tucked away in a small warehouse on a dead-end street, an Internet pioneer is building a bunker to protect an endangered species: the printed word.

Brewster Kahle, 50, founded the nonprofit Internet Archive in 1996 to save a copy of every Web page ever posted. Now the MIT-trained computer scientist and entrepreneur is expanding his effort to safeguard and share knowledge by trying to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published.

“There is always going to be a role for books,” said Kahle as he perched on the edge of a shipping container soon to be tricked out as a climate-controlled storage unit. Each container can hold about 40,000 volumes, the size of a branch library. “We want to see books live forever.”

So far, Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books. He thinks the warehouse itself is large enough to hold about 1 million titles, each one given a barcode that identifies the cardboard box, pallet and shipping container in which it resides.

That’s far fewer than the roughly 130 million different books Google Inc. engineers involved in that company’s book scanning project estimate to exist worldwide. But Kahle says the ease with which they’ve acquired the first half-million donated texts makes him optimistic about reaching what he sees as a realistic goal of 10 million, the equivalent of a major university library.

“The idea is to be able to collect one copy of every book ever published. We’re not going to get there, but that’s our goal,” he said.

Recently, workers in offices above the warehouse floor unpacked boxes of books and entered information on each title into a database. The books ranged from “Moby Dick” and “The Hunchback of Notre-Dame” to “The Complete Basic Book of Home Decorating” and “Costa Rica for Dummies.”

At this early stage in the book collection process, specific titles aren’t being sought out so much as large collections. Duplicate copies of books already in the archive are re-donated elsewhere. If someone does need to see an actual physical copy of a book, Kahle said it should take no more than an hour to fetch it from its dark, dry home.

“The dedicated idea is to have the physical safety for these physical materials for the long haul and then have the digital versions accessible to the world,” Kahle said.

Along with keeping books cool and dry, which Kahle plans to accomplish using the modified shipping cointainers, book preservation experts say he’ll have to contend with vermin and about a century’s worth of books printed on wood pulp paper that decays over time because of its own acidity.

Peter Hanff, acting director of the Bancroft Library, the special collections and rare books library at the University of California, Berkeley, says that just keeping the books on the West Coast will save them from the climate fluctuations that are the norm in other parts of the country.

He praises digitization as a way to make books, manuscripts and other materials more accessible. But he too believes that the digital does not render the physical object obsolete.

People feel an “intimate connection” with artifacts, such as a letter written by Albert Einstein or a papyrus dating back millennia.

“Some people respond to that with just a strong emotional feeling,” Hanff said. “You are suddenly connected to something that is really old and takes you back in time.”

Since Kahle’s undergraduate years in the early 1980s, he has devoted his intellectual energy to figuring out how to create what he calls a digital version of ancient Egypt’s legendary Library of Alexandria. He currently leads an initiative called Open Library, which has scanned an estimated 3 million books now available for free on the Web.

Many of these books for scanning were borrowed from libraries. But Kahle said he began noticing that when the books were returned, the libraries were sometimes getting rid of them to make more room on their shelves. Once a book was digitized, the rationale went, the book itself was no longer needed.

Despite his life’s devotion to the promise of digital technology, Kahle found his faith in bits and bytes wasn’t strong enough to cast paper and ink aside. Even as an ardent believer in the promise of the Internet to make knowledge more accessible to more people than ever, he feared the rise of an overconfident digital utopianism about electronic books.

And he said he simply had a visceral reaction to the idea of books being thrown away.

“Knowledge lives in lots of different forms over time,” Kahle said. “First it was in people’s memories, then it was in manuscripts, then printed books, then microfilm, CD-ROMS, now on the digital Internet. Each one of these generations is very important.”

Each new format as it emerges tends to be hailed as the end-all way to package information. But Kahle points out that even digital books have a physical home on a hard drive somewhere. He sees saving the physical artifacts of information storage as a way to hedge against the uncertainty of the future. (Alongside the books, Kahle plans to store the Internet Archive’s old servers, which were replaced late last year.)

Kahle envisions the book archive less like another Library of Congress (33 million books, according to the library’s website) and more like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an underground Arctic cavern built to shelter back-up copies of the world’s food-crop seeds. The books are not meant to be loaned out on a regular basis but protected as authoritative reference copies if the digital version somehow disappears into the cloud or a question ever arises about an e-book’s faithfulness to the original printed edition.

“The thing that I’m worried about is that people will think this is disrespectful to books. They think we’re just burying them all in the basement,” Kahle said. But he says it’s his commitment to the survival of books that drives this project. “These are the objects that are getting to live another day.”

___

Marcus Wohlsen can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/marcuswohlsen

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Tips for picking a great book

Summer offers an incredible amount of activities to keep you and
your family busy all season, but sometimes the peaceful solitude of
curling up with a good book is a welcomed escape.

“I like beach reads — books that are easy and fun,” says Carla
Zollinger, the adult and teen services manager at the Provo City
Library. The Daily Herald went behind the shelves to get
Zollinger’s advice for finding a book that will keep you
entertained, informed or whatever you are looking for in a summer
read.

Zollinger received a master’s degree in library science and has
worked at the Provo City Library for 13 years. She manages the
collections, services and programs that serve teens and adults at
the library. Here are her tips for picking the perfect book:

Article continues here: heraldextra.com

Complaint Box: How E-Readers Destroyed My Love Life

Broken heart Kindle e-reader.
Complaint Box

I noticed his wavy hair, his feline eyes and his lips, which moved slightly as he read. But the first thing I noticed was his book: Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint,” one of my favorites, was cradled in his palm. Between Delancey Street and Bryant Park on the uptown F train, I fell for him hard. It wasn’t the first time I’d flirted my way into a Saturday night date with a simple phrase: “I love that book.”

I had one good pickup line, and e-readers ruined it. I can no longer hit on a handsome man on a long commute by asking about his book — because I can’t see it. Gone are the days when, sitting on a train delayed in the station, I could imagine exactly where in the New York Public Library we would first kiss — in the stacks between Mailer and Malamud or Foer and Franzen? E-books may be saving literature, but my dating life has suffered.

We all know you can’t tell a book by its Nook, but for for me, a geeky 29-year-old N.Y.U. graduate, this problem is particularly acute. A man’s literary taste can score as many points as being good with my parents or an ace in the kitchen. I promise there is nothing flattering about me awkwardly straining my un-swanlike neck toward a cute guy’s Kindle to guess what he’s eyeing. Instead, I am limited to those who peruse The New Yorker in print. And I fear those days are numbered.

Ladies and gentlemen, take out your books! In New York they are more important than your Facebook photo. As our cyber personalities grow more detailed, we see less of one another in person. A literary flirtation is less risky than a bar pickup — at least you know you have one thing in common. And there’s more chance for chemistry riding the L train than scrolling through Match.com, where you’ll see what novels a guy claims to read but his profile pic may be of his hotter brother.

I‘ve had wonderful encounters over books — in cafes, in parks, on subway platforms. Not just with potential dates, but kindred spirits — a septuagenarian reading Nicholas Sparks, a tourist from Abu Dhabi who introduced me to Italo Calvino. A woman new to the city reading E. B. White’s “Here Is New York,” another favorite, is now my good friend.

During the Murakami craze a few summers ago, when everyone was carrying around his Vintage-issued paperbacks with their distinct covers, I found myself in a subway car full of passengers bonding over their “Wind-Up Birds” and “Hard-Boiled Wonderlands.” That is what I love about New York. I don’t need 10 best sellers on an iPad; it only takes one dog-eared title to recognize a soul mate.

Since I can’t scope out a guy for his good books, I’ll have to find my love stories elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll start reading romance novels — hello, Nora Roberts. At least if I get an e-reader, no one will know.

Lisa Lewis, a freelance writer and playwright, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and can be found online at LisaLewisWriting.com.

If you wish to submit a Complaint Box essay, please send it as an attachment and in the body of the e-mail to complaintbox@nytimes.com, along with your name, address, phone number and e-mail. In the subject line of the e-mail, type your last name, followed by “Complaint Box” and the subject of your complaint. Essays can be 100 to 500 words. Because we receive so many submissions, we can get back only to those whose complaints are being considered for publication. If you do not hear from us, thank you anyway, and feel free to submit it elsewhere.

Please note: Complaint Box is not the forum for your complaints about City Room or The Times. It is for essays on the general hassles of life, like the one above. If you have an issue with City Room, e-mail cityroom@nytimes.com. For issues with The Times, see the options at the bottom of the nytimes.com home page.

Complaint Box: How E-Readers Destroyed My Love Life

Broken heart Kindle e-reader.
Complaint Box

I noticed his wavy hair, his feline eyes and his lips, which moved slightly as he read. But the first thing I noticed was his book: Philip Roth’s “Portnoy’s Complaint,” one of my favorites, was cradled in his palm. Between Delancey Street and Bryant Park on the uptown F train, I fell for him hard. It wasn’t the first time I’d flirted my way into a Saturday night date with a simple phrase: “I love that book.”

I had one good pickup line, and e-readers ruined it. I can no longer hit on a handsome man on a long commute by asking about his book — because I can’t see it. Gone are the days when, sitting on a train delayed in the station, I could imagine exactly where in the New York Public Library we would first kiss — in the stacks between Mailer and Malamud or Foer and Franzen? E-books may be saving literature, but my dating life has suffered.

We all know you can’t tell a book by its Nook, but for for me, a geeky 29-year-old N.Y.U. graduate, this problem is particularly acute. A man’s literary taste can score as many points as being good with my parents or an ace in the kitchen. I promise there is nothing flattering about me awkwardly straining my un-swanlike neck toward a cute guy’s Kindle to guess what he’s eyeing. Instead, I am limited to those who peruse The New Yorker in print. And I fear those days are numbered.

Ladies and gentlemen, take out your books! In New York they are more important than your Facebook photo. As our cyber personalities grow more detailed, we see less of one another in person. A literary flirtation is less risky than a bar pickup — at least you know you have one thing in common. And there’s more chance for chemistry riding the L train than scrolling through Match.com, where you’ll see what novels a guy claims to read but his profile pic may be of his hotter brother.

I‘ve had wonderful encounters over books — in cafes, in parks, on subway platforms. Not just with potential dates, but kindred spirits — a septuagenarian reading Nicholas Sparks, a tourist from Abu Dhabi who introduced me to Italo Calvino. A woman new to the city reading E. B. White’s “Here Is New York,” another favorite, is now my good friend.

During the Murakami craze a few summers ago, when everyone was carrying around his Vintage-issued paperbacks with their distinct covers, I found myself in a subway car full of passengers bonding over their “Wind-Up Birds” and “Hard-Boiled Wonderlands.” That is what I love about New York. I don’t need 10 best sellers on an iPad; it only takes one dog-eared title to recognize a soul mate.

Since I can’t scope out a guy for his good books, I’ll have to find my love stories elsewhere. Perhaps I’ll start reading romance novels — hello, Nora Roberts. At least if I get an e-reader, no one will know.

Lisa Lewis, a freelance writer and playwright, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and can be found online at LisaLewisWriting.com.

If you wish to submit a Complaint Box essay, please send it as an attachment and in the body of the e-mail to complaintbox@nytimes.com, along with your name, address, phone number and e-mail. In the subject line of the e-mail, type your last name, followed by “Complaint Box” and the subject of your complaint. Essays can be 100 to 500 words. Because we receive so many submissions, we can get back only to those whose complaints are being considered for publication. If you do not hear from us, thank you anyway, and feel free to submit it elsewhere.

Please note: Complaint Box is not the forum for your complaints about City Room or The Times. It is for essays on the general hassles of life, like the one above. If you have an issue with City Room, e-mail cityroom@nytimes.com. For issues with The Times, see the options at the bottom of the nytimes.com home page.

Heavy sentences by Joseph Epstein – The New Criterion

On How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, by Stanley Fish.

After thirty years of teaching a university course in something called advanced prose style, my accumulated wisdom on the subject, inspissated into a single thought, is that writing cannot be taught, though it can be learned—and that, friends, is the sound of one hand clapping. A. J. Liebling offers a complementary view, more concise and stripped of paradox, which runs: “The only way to write is well, and how you do it is your own damn business.”

Learning to write sound, interesting, sometimes elegant prose is the work of a lifetime. The only way I know to do it is to read a vast deal of the best writing available, prose and poetry, with keen attention, and find a way to make use of this reading in one’s own writing. The first step is to become a slow reader. No good writer is a fast reader, at least not of work with the standing of literature. Writers perforce read differently from everyone else. Most people ask three questions of what they read: (1) What is being said? (2) Does it interest me? (3) Is it well constructed? Writers also ask these questions, but two others along with them: (4) How did the author achieve the effects he has? And (5) What can I steal, properly camouflaged of course, from the best of what I am reading for my own writing? This can slow things down a good bit.

Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble: Is Web personalization turning us into solipsistic twits? via @literarystop

Eli Pariser. Click image to expand.Eli PariserThe first conversation I ever had about the Internet was in 1993 with Robert Wright, who was then a colleague at the New Republic. This “Net” thing was going to be a big deal, I remember Bob telling me, but it could create a few problems. One was that it was going to empower crazies, since geographically diffuse nut jobs of all sorts would be able to find each other online. Another was that it could hurt democratic culture by encouraging narrow-minded folk to burrow deeper into their holes. Wright spelled out those concerns in an article that stands as a model of prescience and a delightful time-capsule. (“People who ‘post’ on the Net’s many different bulletin boards—its ‘newsgroups’—know that their words can be seen from just about any chunk of inhabited turf on this planet.”)

Continues here: slate.com

Deborah Blum on Science in Society | FiveBooks | The Browser

The Pulitzer prize-winning writer says science is too important to be left for the scientists, and recommends books that show how much it matters in our daily lives

Before we start with the books, I was wondering what made you go for the theme of science in society?

 

I like books and stories that link science with the rest of the world. Far too many people think of scientific research as existing on a separate abstract plane, when in fact it’s an entirely human enterprise – people seeking to understand the world around us – with all the quirks, foibles, personalities and flashes of generosity, decency and occasional brilliance that occur in any such enterprise.

 

So I tend to go for books that revolve around people – either scientists or people affected by science. This also fits into another interest of mine – the intersection of science and society, the way those two forces pull and tug at each other. I also like the subversive nature of such storytelling, the prospect of telling a really good story that will, along the way, illuminate an aspect of science. I like books that reach out to a broad audience, not just the already science-literate among us.

Well let’s take a look at five of your favourites. The first one is Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos by Dennis Overbye, which is very much looking at the people behind the science. Can you tell me about some of them?

 

One of my favourite people in that book is actually Edwin Hubble. He is one of the most famous of the early cosmologists. He developed the Hubble Constant, which is a rather brilliant way of measuring the distance to faraway stars and galaxies. One of the things that struck me when I read this book was that, although it wasn’t just the first time that I had thought of Edwin Hubble as a human being, it showed what a really complicated human being he was. He saw himself as a man on a mission, a famous scientist who yet needed to uphold an image of being a really good guy.

 

Dennis Overbye does a wonderful job of showing just how incredibly driven a lot of these scientists were to achieve scientific goals. And at the same time the book explores the impact of those goals on people around them.

Continues here: thebrowser.com

Robert Heinlein’s “By His Bootstraps”

Radio Drama Revival is a wonderful site and worth a visit (or 2 or 3). I hadn’t realized until last night when looking for Heinlein’s short story that the radio play was available online. I heard this when it was broadcast on NPR years ago and had been looking for the print version ever since. Unfortunately, I did’t have the sense to write down the author or the name of the radio play at the time, so I’ve been hunting fruitlessly.

An acquaintance at a somewhat weekly coffee gathering here in Santa Fe was able to identify the story when I described the radio show and gave me the title. I was immediately able to locate the print version, which can be found in pdf format here: www.xs4all.nl/~pot/scifi/byhisbootstraps.pdf. Had I waited another week to search, I might have found this 2010 blog post and the audio file.

Enjoy – in either format!

WOW. This week I have the great pleasure of presenting to you, rendered in brilliant stereo sound, this gem of a short story by the grand master Robert A. Heinlein, By His Bootstraps.

We again have to thank the esteemed Yuri Rasovsky, who produced these works for the Beyond 2000 series which aired on NPR. You can download many many more stories from this collection on Audiblesearch for 2000x.

Download Radio Drama Revival Episode 177 (MP3)

Beauty, Language, and the King James Bible — Spirituality — Utne Reader

in-the-beginning 

Regardless of your creed or convictions (or lack thereof), it’s hard to deny that the King James translation of the Bible is an epic tome of efficient diction, unforgettable narratives, and beautifully wrought poetry. The translation—arguably the most widely read text in the English language—celebrates its 400th birthday this year and deserves praise for its enduring allure and literary relevancy.

Ann Wroe of More Intelligent Life recently lauded the elegant language of the King James Bible in a passionate piece of personal essay and approachable scholarship. First, she describes her initial interaction with the KJV, a chance reading at St. John’s College Chapel. “The effect was extraordinary” remembers Wroe, “as if I had suddenly found, in the house of language I had loved and explored all my life, a hidden central chamber whose pillars and vaulting, rhythm and strength had given shape to everything around them.” And when you open its pages, she continues, “

Continue reading at utne.com