Posts tagged books

The National Library of Norway is digitizing its entire collection. The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act requires that all published content, in all media, be deposited with the National Library of Norway. The collection is also being expanded through purchases and gifts. The digital collection contains material dating from the Middle Ages up to the current day.

Via The National Library of Norway.

What, what does that mean?

The Atlantic’s Alexis Madrigal takes it away:

…[W]hen the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people’s language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years.

If you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th-century works, even those still under copyright. Non-copyrighted works from all time periods will be available for download.

According to the Scandinavian Library Quarterly, the National Library is six years into its digitization process. The results so far: a collection of approximately “350,000 newspaper copies, 235,000 books, 240,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts, 4,000 posters, 740,000 hours of radio broadcasts, 310,000 hours of television programmes, 7,000 videocassettes/films, 7,000 78-rpm records and 8,000 audiotapes.”

Pretty amazing that a country values the cultural capital of its media to recognize it as a common resource for all its citizens. Meantime, in the States, well, copyright, although a federal judge did back Google’s book digitization efforts in November.

British Library: Go Forth and Remix
Via the British Library:

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

So, awesome.
Now check out the British Library’s next steps:

We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence.
The manifests of images, with descriptions of the works that they were taken from, are available on github and are also released under a public-domain ‘licence’. This set of metadata being on github should indicate that we fully intend people to work with it, to adapt it, and to push back improvements that should help others work with this release. 
There are very few datasets of this nature free for any use and by putting it online we hope to stimulate and support research concerning printed illustrations, maps and other material not currently studied. Given that the images are derived from just 65,000 volumes and that the library holds many millions of items.

Image: Detail, page 331, “L’Alsace et des Alsaciens à travers les siècles,” via the British Library on Flickr. Select to embiggen.

British Library: Go Forth and Remix

Via the British Library:

We have released over a million images onto Flickr Commons for anyone to use, remix and repurpose. These images were taken from the pages of 17th, 18th and 19th century books digitised by Microsoft who then generously gifted the scanned images to us, allowing us to release them back into the Public Domain. The images themselves cover a startling mix of subjects: There are maps, geological diagrams, beautiful illustrations, comical satire, illuminated and decorative letters, colourful illustrations, landscapes, wall-paintings and so much more that even we are not aware of.

So, awesome.

Now check out the British Library’s next steps:

We plan to launch a crowdsourcing application at the beginning of next year, to help describe what the images portray. Our intention is to use this data to train automated classifiers that will run against the whole of the content. The data from this will be as openly licensed as is sensible (given the nature of crowdsourcing) and the code, as always, will be under an open licence.

The manifests of images, with descriptions of the works that they were taken from, are available on github and are also released under a public-domain ‘licence’. This set of metadata being on github should indicate that we fully intend people to work with it, to adapt it, and to push back improvements that should help others work with this release. 

There are very few datasets of this nature free for any use and by putting it online we hope to stimulate and support research concerning printed illustrations, maps and other material not currently studied. Given that the images are derived from just 65,000 volumes and that the library holds many millions of items.

Image: Detail, page 331, “L’Alsace et des Alsaciens à travers les siècles,” via the British Library on Flickr. Select to embiggen.

Hello, Gutenberg

Via the Associated Press.

Access to the Gutenberg Bible and other ancient manuscripts has just gotten easier.

The Vatican Library and Oxford University’s Bodleian Library put the first of 1.5 million pages of their precious manuscripts online Tuesday, bringing their collections to a global audience for the first time.

The two libraries in 2012 announced a four-year project to digitize some of the most important works in their collections of Hebrew manuscripts, Greek manuscripts and early printed books…

…The Vatican Library was founded in 1451 and is one of the most important research libraries in the world. It has 180,000 manuscripts, 1.6 million books and 150,000 prints, drawings and engravings. The Bodleian is the largest university library in Britain, with more than 11 million printed works.

Images: Screenshots of the Gutenberg Bible, via Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Select to embiggen.

Every time somebody says to me, “It’s so impressive how you manage to get writing done despite being on Facebook/Twitter/etc. all the time,” I cringe. I’ve been hit by a backhanded compliment. I’m surfing, tweeting and emailing — leaving my digital prints everywhere and probably picking up some nasty computer viruses — while serious writers are working pristinely, heroically beyond the clutches of the Internet.

Jonathan Franzen found the Internet such a threat that he disabled it by plugging an Ethernet cable into his computer with super glue. The philosophy behind this act of almost rageful vandalism seems self-evident. Compared to the hard work of writing, the Internet gives an easy way out. Before, the writer took breaks for things like coffee, cigarettes, drugs — items that each have natural limits in the human body. But now, you’re basically working in an intellectual red-light district where, at any time — every three seconds if you want — you can dip into the constantly replenished streams of email/Facebook/Gawker/eBay/YouTube/Instagram.
Marie Myung-Ok Lee, New York Times. The Internet: A Welcome Distraction.

Because Language

Via The Atlantic:

The word “because,” in standard English usage, is a subordinating conjunction, which means that it connects two parts of a sentence in which one (the subordinate) explains the other. In that capacity, “because” has two distinct forms. It can be followed either by a finite clause (I’m reading this because [I saw it on the web]) or by a prepositional phrase (I’m reading this because [of the web]). These two forms are, traditionally, the only ones to which “because” lends itself.

I mention all that … because language. Because evolution. Because there is another way to use “because.” Linguists are calling it the “prepositional-because.” Or the “because-noun.

You probably know it better, however, as explanation by way of Internet—explanation that maximizes efficiency and irony in equal measure. I’m late because YouTube. You’re reading this because procrastination. As the language writer Stan Carey delightfully sums it up: “‘Because’ has become a preposition, because grammar.” 

FJP: And now we know.

Beautiful Libraries

Via Huffington Post UK

These stunning images show some of the great libraries of the world, compiled for a book by Dr James Campbell, who visited more than 80 buildings in 20 countries for his own tome entitled: The Library: A World History.

The book, which took three years to research and includes these pictures by photographer Will Pryce, takes in some of the great rooms of learning from around the globe, from Trinity Hall in Cambridge to the Library Of Congress in Washington. There are even images of the Malatestiana Biblioteca in Cesena, Italy, regarded as the oldest library in the world, dating to 1452.

Images: The Tripitaka Koreana at the Haeinsa Temple in South Korea (top); The library at Admont Abbey in Austria (left); The Biblioteca Joanina in Coimbra, Portugal (right); The Chapter Library, Noyon Cathedral, France (bottom), by Will Pryce via HuffPo UK. Select to embiggen.

Design Firm Creates a ‘Reading Net’ For Library-Loving Minors 

Spain’s Playoffice, a child-centric design firm, created the “reading net" in an attempt to making reading more fun for kids. The "reading net" stretches across the length of a library room, and kids can play on it in between chapters. 

Images: PlayOffice

The Reading Net

Via PlayOffice, h/t Boing Boing.

Select to embiggen.

What’s it Like to Be Dyslexic?

UK-based designer Sam Barclay is concluding a successful Kickstarter campaign to create a design and typography book that shows what it’s like to be dyslexic.

Via the Daily Mail.

According to Barclay, people with dyslexia and other reading difficulties are often capable of thinking in ways others aren’t and as a result are ‘capable of true greatness’, yet these people are often misunderstood and treated unfairly as a result.

‘Being dyslexic, I noticed that available help was always about making me read better,’ said Barclay.

Very little effort was made to help the people around me understand what it feels like.

The book continues a project Barklay created while at the University of Portsmouth that explores the “struggles a dyslexic person might have while reading.”

As Medical Daily explains, the typography book builds empathy with those who don’t — or can’t — understand how the dyslexic see the written world. “It’s near impossible, for instance, to look at a word in your native tongue and not read it, to just look at the symbols, estranged from their meaning. Once we learn to read, our brains forget what it’s like not to associate symbols with letters. It’s for this reason, Barclay says, that his book is so vital to uplifting and enlarging dyslexia to people worldwide.”

Images: Pages from I Wonder What It’s Like to Be Dyslexic, by Sam Barclay via Kickstarter. Select to embiggen.

(via thesmithian)

The authors, Arthur Beifuss (a journalist and former UN counter-terrorism analyst) and Francesco Trivini Bellini, a creative director with a portfolio of big accounts including Gucci and Prada) certainly have the credentials to pose a little-asked question: how great a part does graphic image-making play in the effectiveness of the most active international terrorist groups? More.

Related: A slideshow of global terror groups and their logos (via the Huffington Post).

(via thesmithian)

The authors, Arthur Beifuss (a journalist and former UN counter-terrorism analyst) and Francesco Trivini Bellini, a creative director with a portfolio of big accounts including Gucci and Prada) certainly have the credentials to pose a little-asked question: how great a part does graphic image-making play in the effectiveness of the most active international terrorist groups? More.

Related: A slideshow of global terror groups and their logos (via the Huffington Post).

You can sense when somebody wants something. It’s all about energy exchange, it’s not about words. That’s what I learned from doing Humans of New York. Somebody’s willingness to let me photograph them, and willingness to tell me a story, has nothing to do with the words I say. It all has to do with the energy I’m giving off, which hopefully is very genuine, very interested energy. It’s It’s just two people having a conversation in the street. I think that’s where genuine content comes from.

Brandon Stanton, the human behind Humans of New York, as quoted in this Mashable profile about his work and his forthcoming book.

Brandon began the project in the summer of 2010 in an effort “to construct a photographic census of New York City”. Originally, the idea was to plot the photos on map, but after speaking with 10,000 strangers (New Yorkers and visitors to NYC), he decided to turn the project into a blog which features a portrait of each person, accompanied with a quote or short story from them. Humans of New york has nearly 1.5 million Facebook fans, over 33,000 Twitter followers and Tumblr posts with notes in the thousands. 

Quite the Voice Mail
Canadian author Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. When the Swedish Academy tried calling thirty minutes before the public announcement to tell her the news, they couldn’t reach her so left a voice mail.
Via the New York Times:

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said that Ms. Munro, 82, who has written 14 story collections, was a “master of the contemporary short story.” She is the 13th woman to win the prize…
…[Munro] revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada, which served as the location for many of her stories.
Her collection “Dear Life,” published last year, appears to be her last. She told The National Post in Canada this year that she was finished writing, a sentiment she echoed in other interviews.

FJP — Favorite part of the Times article: “‘For years and years, I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,’ she told The New Yorker in 2012. ‘Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.’”
Image: Twitter post from the Nobel Prize.

Quite the Voice Mail

Canadian author Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature today. When the Swedish Academy tried calling thirty minutes before the public announcement to tell her the news, they couldn’t reach her so left a voice mail.

Via the New York Times:

Announcing the award in Stockholm, the Swedish Academy said that Ms. Munro, 82, who has written 14 story collections, was a “master of the contemporary short story.” She is the 13th woman to win the prize…

…[Munro] revolutionized the architecture of short stories, often beginning a story in an unexpected place then moving backward or forward in time. She brought a modesty and subtle wit to her work that admirers often traced to her background growing up in rural Canada, which served as the location for many of her stories.

Her collection “Dear Life,” published last year, appears to be her last. She told The National Post in Canada this year that she was finished writing, a sentiment she echoed in other interviews.

FJP — Favorite part of the Times article: “‘For years and years, I thought that stories were just practice, till I got time to write a novel,’ she told The New Yorker in 2012. ‘Then I found that they were all I could do, and so I faced that. I suppose that my trying to get so much into stories has been a compensation.’”

Image: Twitter post from the Nobel Prize.

Google Definitions: Now Visualizing Basic Etymology
If you use Google as your dictionary (type define:<some word> in the search box) you’ll start seeing some etymological visualizations in your results. Nothing too deep but something very nice to see. And while it’s not there for all words, we imagine time will come when it will be.
To learn that “news” would give you a Scrabble score of seven in both International and North American English, or that its first recorded usage was in 1382? Hit up Wolfram|Alpha.
Looking for some etymological learnings for tomorrow, Friday the 13th? We got you covered.

Google Definitions: Now Visualizing Basic Etymology

If you use Google as your dictionary (type define:<some word> in the search box) you’ll start seeing some etymological visualizations in your results. Nothing too deep but something very nice to see. And while it’s not there for all words, we imagine time will come when it will be.

To learn that “news” would give you a Scrabble score of seven in both International and North American English, or that its first recorded usage was in 1382? Hit up Wolfram|Alpha.

Looking for some etymological learnings for tomorrow, Friday the 13th? We got you covered.

"Dear Sir,
You have made me unhappy. I bought your Metamorphosis as a present for my cousin, but she doesn’t know what to make of the story. My cousin gave it to her mother, who doesn’t know what to make of it either. Her mother gave the book to my other cousin, and she doesn’t know what to make of it either. Now they’ve written to me.” — &#8220;Fan Letter&#8221; to Franz Kafka.
From a review of a Kafka biography in which we learn that he proposed to his wife via an 18-page letter that included this enticement: &#8220;You would lose Berlin, the office you enjoy, your girlfriends, the small pleasures of life, the prospect of marrying a decent, cheerful, healthy man, of having beautiful healthy children.&#8221;
And that he once wept after hearing that a woman murdered her child but concluded, after reading about it, that it was &#8220;a well-plotted story.&#8221;
Related: Google celebrates Kafka&#8217;s 130th birthday.
Image: The Metamorphosis, K? Via the Telegraph.

"Dear Sir,

You have made me unhappy. I bought your Metamorphosis as a present for my cousin, but she doesn’t know what to make of the story. My cousin gave it to her mother, who doesn’t know what to make of it either. Her mother gave the book to my other cousin, and she doesn’t know what to make of it either. Now they’ve written to me.” — “Fan Letter” to Franz Kafka.

From a review of a Kafka biography in which we learn that he proposed to his wife via an 18-page letter that included this enticement: “You would lose Berlin, the office you enjoy, your girlfriends, the small pleasures of life, the prospect of marrying a decent, cheerful, healthy man, of having beautiful healthy children.”

And that he once wept after hearing that a woman murdered her child but concluded, after reading about it, that it was “a well-plotted story.”

Related: Google celebrates Kafka’s 130th birthday.

Image: The Metamorphosis, K? Via the Telegraph.