Reply to Colin Walker on the idea of a required reading page

Replied to I've been thinking some more about the idea of a required reading page. by Colin Walker (Social Thoughts)
Could the things held here be placed on an About page? Possibly - it depends what they are. If they are links to your own posts then almost certainly. External links? Maybe, maybe not. So, why have a required page and what does it give the reader?

In classical studies in the Renaissance the number of texts which were popular and considered expected/required reading for a “learned” person were a relatively set number and generally completely consumable and completely known by those with an education. Thus a writer could make a reference to the old testament or to Cato and the vast majority of the audience would get that reference (without footnotes or explicit references) having read these same texts.

Sadly the depth and breadth of available literature has exploded since Gutenberg making it nearly impossible for anyone in a modern audience to have read and know what the author may presume them to know. As an example, in Shakespeare’s day many of his side references would be known by even the uneducated, while most modern students have to rely on Cliff’s Notes or annotated editions to understand those cultural references. The modern day equivalent is that most avid fans of the Simpsons television show are also generally well educated on popular film since the 1940s, otherwise they’re missing 90% of the jokes.

Things become much more stilted within the blogging arena, particularly when a writer may cover a dozen areas or more in which they may have significant experience, but which will likely be completely unknown to some of their regular readers, much less new readers who aren’t specialists in these fields themselves. This may turn away readers at worst, but will destroy the conversation at best. (Though I will admit it doesn’t seem deter some of the lookie-loos from taking at shot at interacting on the lowest levels at Terry Tao’s blog.)

In some sense, in knowing their audience, writers have to have some grasp of what they do or don’t know, otherwise it becomes difficult to communicate those progressively more expanding thoughts. Having hyperlinks certainly helps within a piece, much the way academics footnote journal articles, but it can be just as painful for the writer to constantly be referring back to the same handful of articles constantly. In this sense, having a recommended/required reading section may be useful, particularly if it were ubiquitous, but I suspect that the casual drive-by reader may not notice or care very much. However, for that rare <5% it may be just the primer they’re looking for to better understand you and what you’re writing about.

One of the most difficult things to do in a new job or when entering a new field is to become aware of the understood culture and history of the company or the field itself. One must learn the jargon and history to contextualize the overarching conversation. Jumping into Dave Winer’s blog without knowing his background and history is certainly a more painful thing than starting to read someone whose blog is less than a year old and could thus be consumed in a short time versus thousands upon thousands of posts since the literal start of blogging on the internet. It’s somewhat reminiscent of David Shanske’s problem of distilling down a bio for an h-card from the rest of his site and his resume. What do you want someone you’ve just met to know about you to more quickly put you into a broader context, especially when you want them to get to know you better?

I think we’re all in the same boat as David in figuring out the painful path of distilling all this down in a sensible and straightforward manner. I’m curious to see what you come up with and how it evolves over time.

👓 Delta, Bank of America End Sponsorship of New York’s Public Theater Over Trump-Like ‘Julius Caesar'” | Hollywood Reporter

Read Delta, Bank of America End Sponsorship of New York's Public Theater Over Trump-Like 'Julius Caesar' (The Hollywood Reporter)
“No matter what your political stance may be, the graphic staging of 'Julius Caesar' at this summer’s Free Shakespeare in the Park does not reflect Delta Air Lines’ values," the airline said in a statement.

Even satire can’t be treated respectfully anymore.

Where’s the possible angle on the story that these companies are doing this for potential Trump retribution? What about other sponsors? Are they experiencing customer fall-out over their support of the piece? This story stopped far too short.

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Reply to What is the Bibliotheca Fictiva?

Replied to What is the Bibliotheca Fictiva? by Isabelle Kargon (The Sheridan Libraries Blog)

From antiquity to current times, there have always been writers devising literary forgeries of all kinds, either copying an existing book from the classical period or simply creating a fake original edition to trick collectors and scholars into purchasing a book that would be difficult to compare to any other. Some forgers do it for financial gain, some for ideological reasons, and some probably because of an impish instinct to prove that they can fool respectable scholars into believing an item is genuine.

There are some famous examples of forgeries, like The Donation of Constantine, a document supposedly written by Emperor Constantine (285-337 AD) and granting to Pope Sylvester I large territories of the Western Roman Empire as a token of gratitude for having converted him. Actually, the document was a forgery from the eighth century. This was not revealed before the 15th century, when Lorenzo Valla published the Discourse on the Forgery of the Alleged Donation of Constantine, in which he revealed numerous anachronisms. The Catholic Churchsuppressed this work for many years before conceding, centuries later, that the Donation was a fake.

Pope Sylvester receiving imperial power from Emperor Constantine.

The Johns Hopkins University recently acquired one of the most comprehensive collections of literary forgeries: the Arthur and Janet Freeman Collection of Literary and Historical Forgery, also called the Bibliotheca Fictiva. Arthur Freeman is an antiquarian book dealer. He and his wife Janet Ing Freeman are scholars who wrote a book, reviewed here, about John Payne Collier, a nineteenth-century scholar and literary forger who published a number of fake documents on Shakespeare. Their collection includes 1,200 items covering many centuries, and they wanted it to belong to a research library, which is how these astonishing books are currently being made accessible for consultation in the Sheridan Libraries Special Collections. You will be able to discover works by Joannes Annius de Viterbo, by Thomas James Wise, and many others. Enjoy!

Any intention of acquiring the new text Bibliotheca Fictiva by Freedman as well? http://www.quaritch.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/23/2014/09/Bibliotheca-Fictiva.pdf

I’m not seeing it available on Amazon yet…

The Two Cultures

C.P. Snow, Kt., CBE (1905 – 1980), an English physical chemist and novelist
in 1959 Rede Lecture entitled “The Two Cultures”

 

C. P. Snow, English physicist, author, and diplomat.
C. P. Snow, English physicist, author, and diplomat.

 

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