kottke.org posts about jamesgleick

James Gleick on the value of objectsJan 07 2008

James Gleick on the value of objects in contemporary society. Mass produced and virtual items are getting ever cheaper while items like an original copy of the Magna Carta are getting more and more expensive.

Just when digital reproduction makes it possible to create a "Rembrandt" good enough to fool the eye, the "real" Rembrandt becomes more expensive than ever. Why? Because the same free flow that makes information cheap and reproducible helps us treasure the sight of information that is not. A story gains power from its attachment, however tenuous, to a physical object. The object gains power from the story. The abstract version may flash by on a screen, but the worn parchment and the fading ink make us pause. The extreme of scarcity is intensified by the extreme of ubiquity.

Gleick doesn't adequately nail the "why?" here somehow...seems there's more to it than just objects with attached stories.

Update: See also The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. (thx, finn)

James Gleick on how the Oxford EnglishNov 09 2006

James Gleick on how the Oxford English Dictionary staff is dealing with the proliferation of words on the internet. "New words weren't proliferating at quite the rate they have done in the last 10 years. Not just the Internet, but text messaging and so on has created lots and lots of new vocabulary."

GeniusMay 06 2004

Genius

This seems familiar:

It made Feynman think wistfully about the days before the future of science had begun to feel like his mission -- the days before physicists changed the universe and became the most potent political force within American science, before institutions with fast-expanding budgets began chasing nuclear physicists like Hollywood stars. He remembered when physics was a game, when he could look at the graceful narrowing curve in three dimensions that water makes as it streams from a tap, and he could take the time to understand why.

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