March 18, 2011

Martin Luther’s new media

Filed under: General — crcb @ 11:47 pm
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Via Mike Masnick comes this story of Bob Woodward’s recent anti-internet-journalism rant. If I may go off on a tangent…

The old guard of the newspaper and book publishing industries are all singing from the same song book. Their implicit message is that the unlettered peasants can’t be trusted to create, or indeed to recognize, good content. We need, they say, professional journalists and editors.

If their concern about the public is genuine, it’s condescending. But I don’t think that’s it. I don’t even think it’s primarily about money. Their anxiety is about losing their mystique. They fear people will realize that journalism and publishing were never about difficult skills and esoteric knowledge, but about access to resources and willingness to do the work.

This reminds me of nothing so much as the Church’s reaction to the translation of the Bible into the common language. Now the holy mysteries have been handed to the laity, who don’t realize how lost we will be without their professional guidance.

But I don’t think we’re the ones who will be lost.


March 7, 2011

Book Review: A Salute to Spanish Poetry, by John Howard Reid

Filed under: books,Poetry,Reviews — crcb @ 9:06 pm
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A Salute to Spanish Poetry: 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America, rendered into English verse by John Howard Reid. Lulu, 2010.

Reid includes a large and diverse group of poets here — 57, if I count correctly. I got that figure by paging through the biographical section, which is called an “index,” but isn’t. There is no table of contents. The usual suspects appear — Jimenez, Lorca, Anonymous — but there are also some surprises, like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

I don’t read Spanish, and in any case the Spanish originals aren’t included in this book, so I can’t address the linguistic accuracy of Reid’s translations, or compare the form of the translation with that of the original. The translations flow well enough, except when they’re interrupted by explanatory notes that should be moved to the foot of the page, as in Julio Herrera y Reissig’s “Home from the Fields.” Mostly, any one translation by itself seems fine, if a bit stereotypically “Spanish poetry.” Some are formally adventurous. But take them together, and they all sound as if they were written by the same person — probably beside a fountain at twilight, the air fragrant with blossoms and filled with the sounds of cicadas and plaintive guitars. Is there really that little difference, in the original, between the voices of Machado and Mistral?

The book includes black-and-white photos of cliched Spanish scenery which add little.

Note: I received this book free for review purposes, but received no other compensation for this review. Surprised?

HarperCollins vs Libraries: 2 quick links

Filed under: books,e-books — crcb @ 12:04 am
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As you may know, HarperCollins is instituting a loan cap on libraries for e-book titles: 26 checkouts, and they have to “buy” a “new copy.” Libraries are not thrilled by this, nor are library users (who, I imagine. form a large segment of the publisher’s customer base).

Martin Taylor gives HarperCollins kudos, saying “librarians must change old thinking.” This is ironic, since it’s HarperCollins who insists that librarians pretend ebooks are physical books. First they had to play “we only have one copy,” and now they must make believe that copy is wearing out. Who’s refusing to recognize reality here?

For a radically different take, see Justin Hoenke’s post on Tame the Web. His proposal (though he modestly points out he’s not the first) is to transform libraries into resource centers for communities to create their own content.

Both authors want libraries to change. Justin’s proposal is more in touch with the new facts of digital content. I’m with Justin, count me in.


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