Field Notes — 05.13.14

Field Notes headerWhat is a Book?

In these days of digital technology, the concept of a book has taken on an amorphous sense.  Does book refer to the codex?  The text itself?  This article in The Atlantic argues that a book is not simply a “bag of words” to be displayed on some sort of screen, but an object that is held by human hands.  Alexis Madrigal writes that books-as-objects are the products of all of their former readers and annotations and makes a compelling case for the preservations of these objects.

Books of Forgetting:  Why We Can’t Stop Writing About What We Can’t Remember

Have you ever consulted your digital footprint to retrieve a memory?  Browsed through old Facebook messages or Gchats to find the details of a forgotten event or conversation?  This article in the New Republic explores “the problem of memory in an age when technology has both overcome and highlighted the limits of the human brain’s recall.”  Studies show that much of our memory capacity for facts like the capital of Nebraska (Lincoln) has been outsourced to Google.  However, this article considers a rash of recent books exploring the limits and confines of human brains and human memories.

The Peril of Knowledge Everywhere

This NYTimes article questions if, even in the age of googling, there are things we should try not to know.  According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created daily, and new power structures are created along with them.  This article considers if there are limits to the knowledge we should seek, if there are things that should remain hidden even in the Information Age.

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