The Monk Who Saves Manuscripts from ISIS

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2017/02/the-monk-who-saves-manuscripts-from-isis/517611/

A 59 year old Benedictine monk is roaming around the middle east trying to save Christian and Islamic writings.  He is working on training teams of locals to photograph the pages of manuscripts before they are destroyed, or lost, or stolen.  Many locals are reluctant to let in outsiders and are afraid that their cultural treasures will be stolen.  The monk never touches the manuscript but pays locals to do the digitization work, this keeps the locals employed, active in the preservation, and from being overly wary.

Restoration is extremely costly, if something is destroyed without being photographed then it is truly lost.  Often these methods are seen as the only way to preserve their heritage.

  • This is a good post, detailing some of the preservation efforts being done in war torn countries.  It is good to see that people are trying to maintain access to cultures of the past*

How Ancient Legends Gave Birth To Modern Superheroes

http://io9.gizmodo.com/how-ancient-legends-gave-birth-to-modern-superheroes-1792144697?utm_campaign=socialflow_gizmodo_facebook&utm_source=gizmodo_facebook&utm_medium=socialflow

This article is a review of the book “The Evolution of the Costumed Avenger” By Jess Nevins.

After the introduction an excerpt from the book is presented, this excerpt begins the exploratory process of this text by challenging all ‘definitions’ of superheroes.  A bit dry for what most people would think of as a ‘fun’ read but this certainly does set up the tone and premise of the book.

A quote from the author Nevins is: “A lot of previously ignored or overlooked characters become fair game when we talk about the lineage of the superhero. I think redrawing the boundaries is important, because now we can see that the superhero wasn’t a 20th-century invention, but rather the weaving together of many different heroic traditions that date back centuries or even millennia, and the recapitulation of a wide range of historical character types.”

This is a fascinating analysis of superheroes and the historical characters that influenced, consciously or subconsciously, their creation.  If you like DC, Marvel, etc, and/or history, myths, legends, etc. then this will probably be a fascinating read.  Some day when I am feeling more philosophical I will have to go over this text and find out where some of my favorite heroes come from.

Before Jessica Jones There was Eve Dallas

http://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2017/02/before-jessica-jones-there-was-eve-dallas

*Before posting about this article I have to admit, I love the JD Robb In Death Series and cannot wait for each book to come out twice a year.*

This article discusses how the new Jessica Jones, critically acclaimed, television series that is highly praised for being groundbreaking closely mirrors much of what Nora Roberts (pen name JD Robb) began writing in 1995.  In case you are unfamiliar with either of them the essential premise of Jessica Jones and Eve Dallas (of the In Death Series) is the following:
Strong female characters are at the center

Surviving the Trauma of Rape

Attempting to thrive and overcome in a patriarchal society

Guilt over a failure to save someone

Being hemmed in by constraints

Etc.

They are both apparently quite similar, and both seem to be very empowering for women.

*This was an interesting article, I do not think that I will be watching the Jessica Jones series, there don’t seem to be many positive male role models whereas in JD Robb’s series Eve manages to snag one of the good ones (though there is enough conflict to ensure a lack of Mary Sue syndrome.)*

Controversial Website that Lists Predatory Publishers Shut Down

http://www.nature.com/news/controversial-website-that-lists-predatory-publishers-shuts-down-1.21328

This is an article regarding a website created by a single person which contains a list of publishers that this individual considers predatory.  Apparently on 1/15/17 this website and peripherals was taken down with little to no explanation. This article explores a few essential facts about the website, with an elaboration that there was little transparency about how ‘predatory’ was defined in addition to the fact that once a publisher was on the site it was hard to get them off, in addition to some speculation about why the site may have been discontinued.

*I know of at least one director that was considering suspending all purchases from publishers mentioned on that site regardless of how valid/useful the information contained in the volumes was.  That director also did not conduct any personal exploration into their publishing practices, simply took the information on the website at face value.  Such, well meaning, forms of censorship can be very dangerous.*

 

Smartphone Gives New Life to Audiobooks

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2016/10/07/audio-books-sales-growth-smartphones/91132274/

People are discovering the ability to listen to an audio book while they are doing other things, ie. multi-tasking.

“Between 2012 and 2015, sales of downloaded audio increased nearly 85%, according to the Association of American Publishers”

* the root of this issue is that CD audio books are very expensive and CD players never were very portable.  This allows downloaded audio books to begin to encroach on the market.  People love the illusion that they are multi-tasking, truthfully if you are doing something else odds are you are not concentrating on the audio book you are attempting to listen to.  I digress, since people like to think that they are getting more than one thing done the audio books become a good way to absorb a book and accomplish a task at the same time.  With cell-phones having more memory and being very portable they become  a natural medium for this sort of absorption.*

Print or Digital…

http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/71500-print-digital-and-what-really-matters.html

There are arguements that whether digital or physical reading is on the decline.  One of the first arguments mentions that reading is a more active task than listening to the radio or watching TV.  There is some argument that the publishers are not making digital media easy to access  or more affordable so people are still leaning toward print media.  *I can agree with that to an extent but then I just had to tell a patron that the novella published in their series is only available in digital, he asked when it would be in the library and I had to tell him we would probably never have access to it*.

The author states that one of the most alarming aspects to the trend of fewer people reading is that all other forms of media consumption have had dramatic increases.

In a 2012 survey report titled The Rise of Digital Reading, Pew researchers concluded that “those who have taken the plunge into reading e-books stand out in almost every way” from other kinds of readers.

“Foremost, they are relatively avid readers of books in all formats: 88% of those who read e-books in the past 12 months also read printed books.” the report noted. “Compared with other book readers, they read more books. They read more frequently for a host of reasons: for pleasure, for research, for current events, and for work and school. They are also more likely than others to have bought their most recent book, rather than borrowed it, and they are more likely than others to say they prefer to purchase books in general.”

I find this quote to be one of the most telling.  I know from my personal experiences that I am more likely to buy an e-book simply due to availability, however in order to hook me into spending more of my hard earned money it had better be a darned good book.  There are only a few authors whose books I buy without reservations, and most are mystery authors for my mother.

Readers “want books to be available wherever they are,” Rainie told the Times. “They’ll read an e-book on a crowded bus, curl up with a printed book when they feel like that, and go to bed with a tablet.” That certainly sounds like an opportunity to grow readership, and to reach new readers.

I find this to be the most accurate statement, as well as something that people have a very hard time grasping.  Personally the only reason I read more ebooks and audio books recently is because I can listen to an audio book in the car on the way to work and I can read an e-book anywhere when I get a few free moments.  If I want to get caught up in the life of an alien captive I can pick up “Freedom’s Landing” by Anne McCaffery, if I want to read about Spinning yarn I can pick up “The Complete Practical Spinner’s Guide to Rare Luxury Fibers”, or if I want to read Women’s Day I can pick that up also without lugging around a bunch of books!  It is all on my tablet in addition to my schedule and audio books.

Carla Hayden New Librarian of Congress

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/sep/15/carla-hayden-librarian-congress-first-woman-african-american-post-interview

Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress and only the third to be a professional librarian.  She speaks a great deal about digitizing collections and of librarians as the original search engines.  There is some mention of the Patriot act, and I have to agree.  Sometimes when people search for  things like Jihad they are just trying to inform themselves, not join up with a radical group.  I like that she is planning on making more information available to the public.  Though it was not mentioned in this article I have to add that I do like what the government is doing, ensuring that when they have funded research the results are made available to the public.  In the past the government funded research was published in journals which would cost hundreds if not thousands to subscribe to.