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The Future of the Press

One of the things I like about the book as an object of study is that it spans different media, from manuscript to print to e-book. The book is a larger category than, say, print by itself. On the other hand, one of the unique outcomes of print was the …

Book v. Mobile

The Bookmobile is back! According to the Smithsonian, a new project by Tom Corwin is trying to bring the Bookmobile back into vogue. He’s driving it around N. America giving away books donated by famous writers who were themselves influenced by Bookmobiles when they were growing up. You can see …

Outside the Frame

Of the various reflections that addressed the role of social media in the Middle East uprisings — and within political change more generally — this one from Radio Free Europe was both interesting and instructive. The article suggests that what we need is a new website dedicated to posting footage …

Interacting with Print

My research group just finished up its annual two-day workshop.  This year’s theme was about people’s interaction with objects and the challenges of thinking about the objecthood of print media.  It was a remarkably idea-packed two days and I am still unpacking my notebooks, so to speak. But I really …

The End of Print Nationalism?

One of the most enduring theories in print culture studies is Benedict Anderson’s suggestion that the spread of print media contributed to the rise of nationalism in the nineteenth century. Much like Benjamin’s theory that it was no accident that photography and Marxism came into being at roughly the same …

Reading Propaganda

I’m fascinated by the recurring genre of reading propaganda. It would be interesting to know the extent to which it rises and falls around changes to the materiality of reading. Certainly its prevalence today is trying to address the problem of technological change. This video from the Library of Congress …

Automatic Friends, or, Web 3.0

“But sweeter still, more beautiful and beguiling,/ To be a friend knowingly in the arms of a friend.” – F.G. Klopstock Can friendship be automatic? That is the question circulating around some recent posts about the dismal manual quality of Web 2.0 (aka social networking), and also here. You choose …

The end of intimacy, 1912

“In our own life, the intimacy of the neighborhood has been broken up by the growth of an intricate mesh of wider contacts which leaves us strangers to people who live in the same house…diminishing our economic and spiritual community with our neighbors.” – Charles Horton Cooley, 1912