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CBC interview with me about library stuff

The CBC has posted the full, unedited interview with me (15 mins) that Nora Young did last week. We talk about the Harvard Library Lab’s two big projects, ShelfLife and LibraryCloud. (At the end, we talk a little about Too Big To Know.) The edited interview will be on the Spark program.

One Response to “CBC interview with me about library stuff”

  1. Listening to this interview gave me an idea. I am less interested in socially constructed information about individual books.

    But as an independent scholar, I am very interested in the Selected Bibliographies of authors whose work I deeply respect.

    If you consider a Selected Bibliography as a kind of very useful Metadata (These are the works I have consulted in formulating my thesis or in conducting my research), then a compilation of Selected Bibliographies might show very useful frequently consulted works. This would be very interesting for someone researching any topic.

    Here is an Example: I am researching the poetry of Robert Frost. I enter ten critical and scholarly works on Frost that I have read and respected. Each of these has a Selected Bibliography included at the back of the book. So I enter the names of the ten books into the program and press Biblio and I am given a master list of the collated 10 Bibliographies with duplicates noted.

    When I discover that 8 of the scholars whom I respect have read The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Pack, I decide I should read that book.

    So I am less interested in what “everybody is reading” and more interested in what a very few writers whom I greatly respect have read.

    The metadata that indicates the ratings for most watched television programs, (shows that most everybody is watching), has not produced better shows. But it has produced more Frequently Watched Shows!

    A new book by stephen Greenblatt called The Swerve chronicles the fate of handcopied editions of Lucretius’s De Rerum Natura. It is a very interesting read about a book that went totally out of circulation for 1000 years, chiefly because the monastic libraries were controlled by the Church at the time. After 1000 years the book reappears due to the efforts of one single passionate scholar; and the book changes the course of the world and functions as foundation for Modernism.

    So there is something to be said for unread books as well!

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