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TEACHING THE ART OF READING IN THE DIGITAL ERA

12 Feb

PacificStandard_Hugo&Marie_MVM_Teaching_6,5x4,5_RGB

Perhaps the oddest aspect of reading is that, for all the pleasures of the text, we must be taught to do it. Recognizing symbols and signs, as well as the ability to assign them meaning, might be innate to the human brain, but directing these abilities to follow words on the page—a relatively new skill in human history—requires instruction. Like a child learning to ride a bike without training wheels, the magical moment comes when the parent lets go and the child pedals off—and keeps going. “The most significant kind of learning,” writes the Stanford University reading specialist Elliot Eisner, “creates a desire to pursue learning in that field when one doesn’t have to.” The wonder of experiencing a novel (or the sensation of coasting on two wheels) can be habit-forming.

So notes James McWilliams in a report at the Pacific Standard. You may read his entire report on reading in the Digital Age here.

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A Peek at Famous Readers’ Borrowing Records From a Private New York Library

7 Feb

The Reference Desk at the library.

The New York Society Library, a subscription library now located in a prim townhouse on East 79th Street, has been squirreling books away since 1754. Today the collection occupies nine stacks, and like any library, it can be bit overwhelming if you don’t know what to read. But the Library’s archive offers an unusual book trail to follow: the borrowing histories of its readers past.

So begins Erin Schriener’s fascinating post at Atlas Obscura on the New York Society Library. You may read the entire post here.

 

The Library of Congress rethinks archiving Twitter

3 Jan

In 2010, Twitter bestowed its entire archive of public tweets on the Library of Congress, which the library called “an exciting and groundbreaking acquisition.” The collection began on March 21, 2006, when the company’s co-founder and C.E.O., Jack Dorsey, typed “just setting up my twttr,” and has been expanding significantly each day since (approximately six thousand public tweets are now posted every second). Private and deleted tweets are not included, and neither are images or embedded videos. Everything else, though, is immediately churned into an ever-thickening text archive, to be preserved by the library for all of eternity.

So begins Amanda Petrusich’s New Yorker reflection on the Library of Congress and archiving Twitter. You may read the rest of the reflection here.

How Archivists Deal With Redactions, Codes, and Scribbles

20 Dec

A heavily redacted section of an 1899 letter from veterinary surgeon Frederick Smith to his wife Mary Anne.

At Atlas Obscura, Cara Giaimo explores some the challenges archival collections can pose for readers. Read her illustrated account here.

 

The National Security Archive and U.S. Secrets

19 Dec

Shortly after the government released a trove of documents on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I sat down with Tom Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, to talk about America’s dysfunctional mechanisms for classifying and declassifying information. Here, in an edited transcript, he weighs in on why historians should be extra-grateful for Hillary Clinton’s private server; what really needs to be declassified; and how history is likely to judge Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

At BloombergView, James Gibney (quoted above) interviews Tom Blanton about classifying, declassifying, and archiving U.S. secrets. Read the entire interview here.

Future Historians Probably Won’t Understand Our Internet, and That’s Okay

18 Dec

A "Compose New Tweet" pop-up on the Twitter interface

What’s happening?

This has always been an easier question to pose—as Twitter does to all its users—than to answer. And how well we answer the question of what is happening in our present moment has implications for how this current period will be remembered. Historians, economists, and regular old people at the corner store all have their methods and heuristics for figuring out how the world around them came to be. The best theories require humility; nearly everything that has happened to anyone produced no documentation, no artifacts, nothing to study.

The rise of social media in the ’00s seemed to offer a new avenue for exploring what was happening with unprecedented breadth.

So begins a fascinating report on some of the complexities of archiving the Internet. Read the rest of Alexis C. Madrigal’s Atlantic story here.

 

Smokey Bear Archive

12 Dec

The National Agricultural Library might not be the first place you’d think to visit for its fine art, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture repository actually has a sophisticated collection of oil and acrylic paintings on public display. The artwork has been accumulated over the course of the Forest Service’s seven decade-long Smokey Bear public information campaign.

Read the Atlas Obscura post about the Smokey Bear archive here.

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