Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I'd like to recommend to you the magazine "New Scientist". New Scientist has terrific stories and amusing columns like "last word" (Q & A on everyday scientific phenomena, e.g. "Why are the ends of your fingernails white?") and "Feedback" (Strange but true tales from the world of science).
This issue's cover story deals with infinity. Quote: "In anyone's book, infinity is paradoxical. If your bank has an infinite number of pounds in the vault, you can pay in one pound, take out a million and the bank won't have lost any money. And that's just the beginning. There's even a way you can take out an infinite number of pounds and the bank still won't have lost any money. Confused? You should be. When we start thinking about infinity, we are on dangerous ground. But it's not just philosophically threatening - it's also a problem in maths. Mathematicians would gladly banish the infinite from their minds, were it not for one thing: infinity is far too useful to do without…" (Source: New Scientist Print Edition e-zine, 29 September 2003)
I've just finished an article I wrote with a colleague (well, let's say: my colleague wrote it with me), and I've just sent it off to the editor. Nice feeling :-) The text is named "Electronic governmentality in Austria: 'Governance Work' between self-bureaucratisation and central surveillance" and will be published in the book "e-Democracy: Technology, Law and Politics" edited by the Austrian Computer Society OCG.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Last Monday, I attended a DDC (Dewey Decimal Classification) introductory course during the ODOK conference in Salzburg. It was really interesting, and I think that the possibilities DDC offers (for example facet indicators) are useful. But then a fellow student pointed to the following article: "Hotel Being Sued for Using the Dewey Decimal System" (via Slashdot)
It says that OCLC is suing the Library Hotel in New York for trademark infringement. The cited Library Hotel "in New York City is the first hotel ever to offer its guest over 6,000 volumes organized throughout the hotel by the DDC. Each of the 10 guestrooms floors honors one of the 10 categories of the DDC and each of the 60 rooms is uniquely adorned with a collection of books and art exploring a distinctive topic within the category or floor it belongs to." Nice place to be :-)
I think it might be dangerous to subdue oneself to OCLC's business practices - maybe libraries will be awaited by the same problems they currently have with electronic journals... What if Austrian libraries change their shelf classification to DDC, and suddenly OCLC imposes a price increase that libraries can't bear with their increasingly limited budgets...

Monday, September 15, 2003

A few reading recommendations:
- Chuck Zerby: The Devil's Details. A History of Footnotes. Touchstone 2003
- Katia Roberto / Jessamyn West (eds): Revolting Librarians Redux. Radical Librarians speak out. McFarland 2003
- Heather J. Jackson: Marginalia. Readers writing in books. Yale University Press 2001
A few listening recommendations:
- The Librarians: The Pathetic Aesthetic. The authors of this quite funny CD don't seem to be librarians themselves, but they also sell T-Shirts showing the imprint "the librarians" as well as a picture of spectacles, which my colleague and me bought at once and wear at library events.
- Kate Bush: Sensual World. An album I didn't like at all when first listening at it, now being addicted to it. Special recommendation: the song "Reaching out".

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

James Gunn wrote an essay about "Libraries in Science Fiction" wich can be found here.
Believe it or not - you can study Science Fiction! The University of Liverpool offers a M.A. programme: "The course provides a framework for the study of a broad range of Science Fiction texts in their formal, stylistic and thematic characteristics. At the heart of Science Fiction lies a speculative energy which will be examined in relation to such critical and theoretical issues as gender and the limits of the genre. The course material will mainly be twentieth century and written in English, though European writers such as Yevgeny Zamyatin and Stanislaw Lem will also be considered." (website)
Also in Liverpool, there is a great & big SF library, the "Science Fiction Foundation Collection". "The Science Fiction Foundation Collection is the largest collection of material relating to Science Fiction in the European Community and one of the two or three most important outside the U.S.A. It was established as the research library of the Science Fiction Foundation, created in 1970 by George Hay with Arthur C. Clarke and Ursula Le Guin as patrons. It has been built up over the years thanks to the generosity of writers, publishers and fans and is well established as the most important centre for study and research in science fiction within the UK." (website)

Monday, September 08, 2003

There was an exhibition called "Zukunftsbilder" (~ pictures of the future) in the Wiener Stadt- und Landesbibliothek (~ library of the city and province of Vienna). You'll find some information in German on this website, for example about the Austrian SF author Erich Dolezal, utopian films, social fiction, the history of SF, Thomas Morus' "Utopia", Perry Rhodan...
I'm currently reading the SF novel "Krakatit" (picture) by the Czech author Karel Capek. There is the chemist Prokop who discovers and develops explosives; his fellow student Tomesch who wants to sell Prokops formula; atomic energy seething in everything; a humankind which can easily destroy itself... a very thrilling book, written in 1924, published 1940 in English and 1981 in its German version in the GDR. I bought the book on a flea market, but there are several books of Capek still available in German and English, for example "War With the Newts" = "Der Krieg mit den Molchen" (picture), the trilogy "Hordubal; Der Meteor; Ein gewöhnliches Leben" (picture), "R. U. R. and the Insect Play" (in which the word "robot" apparently occured for the first time)...

Friday, September 05, 2003

Fed up with books

I never thought I would ever say something like that, but currently I'm quite fed up with books and libraries :-| The library I work in moved to new premises in August and was merged with another library. It is really difficult to unite two organisations that had developed independently - it's really a clash of cultures... We have a new shelf classification, so we had to apply new labels to about 11,000 books; and we will get a book-security system, so we had to glue security stripes to all these 11,000 books, and then we had to carry the boxes with journals and books around on the ground floor and up to the first floor *yawn* So I really need a vacation...
Well, certainly that doesn't prevent me from reading at home. Yesterday it was a great delight to read again act 2, scene 3 from "Much ado about nothing" (William Shakespeare), especially nice when you remember how Kenneth Branagh, Denzel Washington, Robert Sean Leonard et al. play it in the splendid picturisation from 1993. It's really one of the most funny, most eloquent texts I've ever read.