…On my first book tour I was invited to Barbara’s Bookstore in Chicago. The employees optimistically set up seven folding chairs, then occupied those chairs themselves when nobody showed up for the reading.

Armed with such experiences, my writer pals and I took personally Amazon’s assault on the kinds of stores that hand-sold our books before anybody knew who we were, back before Amazon or the Internet itself existed. As Anita put it, losing independent bookstores would be “akin to editing … a critical part of our culture out of American life.

(via Amazon’s Jungle Logic - NYTimes.com)


iPhones vs. the Police

But things are different nowadays. Smart phones have cameras, and almost everyone has a smart phone. A court is therefore less likely to be ignorant of what actually occurred between the policeman and me. The policeman and I may have videotaped it. Bystanders might have, too. I am reminded of the utopia dreamed of by the eighteenth-century anarchist William Godwin, who hoped that someday everyone in the world would become so sincere and so expressive that all sides of every story would be fully narrated, and there would no longer be any need to deceive. Everyone would be his own narrator, and in the world that this sincerity revealed, perfect knowledge would include perfect forgiveness.

- Caleb Crain writes about how camera phones will continue to change how citizens and police interact with each other: http://nyr.kr/tZHROj

We need librarians more than we ever did

The next library is a house for the librarian with the guts to invite kids in to teach them how to get better grades while doing less grunt work. And to teach them how to use a soldering iron or take apart something with no user servicable parts inside. And even to challenge them to teach classes on their passions, merely because it's fun. This librarian takes responsibility/blame for any kid who manages to graduate from school without being a first-rate data shark.

The next library is filled with so many web terminals there's always at least one empty. And the people who run this library don't view the combination of access to data and connections to peers as a sidelight--it's the entire point.

Wouldn't you want to live and work and pay taxes in a town that had a library like that? The vibe of the best Brooklyn coffee shop combined with a passionate raconteur of information? There are one thousands things that could be done in a place like this, all built around one mission: take the world of data, combine it with the people in this community and create value.

We need librarians more than we ever did. What we don't need are mere clerks who guard dead paper. Librarians are too important to be a dwindling voice in our culture. For the right librarian, this is the chance of a lifetime.

via Seth's Blog: The future of the library.

I've got nothing to add to this. The only library I seem able to hang out in these days is the Princeton Public Library.