Pretty Stunning Ray Bradbury Article

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Bill Loguidice
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Not a big fan of the man myself (I was more into Asimov and others), but there's a fascinating NYTimes.com article on him, here. He says some pretty wild stuff to say the least, and some fairly disappointing stuff from someone who, even at his age, should have retained at least some of the futuristic vision and, frankly ambition, from his youth. Here's hoping I never turn into what amounts to a "cranky old man"! (to be fair to Mr. Bradbury, he's always been rather controversial and this could just be a late life "exaggeration" of that aspect of his personality)

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Matt Barton
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Yeah, the university library

Yeah, the university library calls itself that -- "a Learning Resources Center." :)

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Bill Loguidice
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Libraries
Matt Barton wrote:

I'd love to have the option of having it shipped directly to my home rather than have to pick it up at the library.

My library system does that apparently. I haven't tried it myself.

Matt Barton wrote:

I think the future of the library is not a building. The point is not to have a cozy building full of books. The point is to provide the public with as much information as possible, and to help them sift through the crap to get to the good stuff. They are important because you can't have a good democracy with ignorant people.

Perhaps a library should be considered an "information center". Have a large number free-to-use terminals and a smaller, more focused and up-to-date selection of books and periodicals. The library as a warehouse for out-of-date materials is not the way to go for maximum efficiency.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Well, I work around

Well, I work around librarians everyday and know several of them very well. They are the last, repeat, last people who would ever agree with Bradbury. Indeed, they are often the most tech savvy folks around. They scoff at people who only use Google because they have so many other databases and ways of searching that are often more accurate. The modern library isn't about books, which are only a medium, but information. The librarian is someone who is able to help you find information about anything. The ones here are really great; ask them a question about anything you can think of, and they can find it for you or at least point you in the right direction. That might be a book or journal in their library, or it might be an article in one of their databases, a government site, or so on. They will give you sources based on your rhetorical needs (i.e., what type of source will be most credible or at least acceptable to the audience). If you want to be persuasive, you can't just quote random web pages or wikipedia; you have to find sources who can backup or at least stand behind what they say.

Many people argue that the internet makes everyone's opinion equal or some such nonsense. It simply isn't true. A badly spelled and amateurish-looking website with no authors (or some silly moniker like "raybadman") spewing nonsense will not be taken seriously. You probably won't even be able to find it, because it will be so far down Google's list that it's practically invisible to the web. I'm not going to say the "cream rises to the top," but at least the articles that are most linked (and theoretically most discussed or relevant) will be there in the first few pages. The real danger isn't idiots and their unsubstantiated drivel, but spammers and criminals who try to gank the system.

Spammers, phishers, and the like are the people folks like Bradbury should go after. These are the real punks. These are the sleazeballs who are trying their best to ruin a great public good.

As for the argument that libraries do the poor a service, I agree 100%. I have always used libraries. That said, it's probably more important to get a few more networked computers in there than to buy another truckload of books. I doubt that most books in a library are ever checked out; probably only a small percentage is checked out frequently. I'd prefer to see all of those seldom checked out books in a huge, automated factory like Amazon has. That way, you can use interlibrary-loan at any library and have it shipped to you. I'd love to have the option of having it shipped directly to my home rather than have to pick it up at the library.

I think the future of the library is not a building. The point is not to have a cozy building full of books. The point is to provide the public with as much information as possible, and to help them sift through the crap to get to the good stuff. They are important because you can't have a good democracy with ignorant people.

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Bill Loguidice
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I agree that libraries have

I agree that libraries have their place and perhaps always will, but like I said earlier, I think their function/reason for being has to evolve. You make excellent, excellent points Davy, but not every area is underprivileged or without reasonable access. Perhaps the most logical answer then is to shift resources to libraries in less fortunate areas in the hopes that that will help, and in those more affluent areas, evolve the library. I know in my area, one our main libraries has a rather interesting setup, in that it also has a cafe and a large video library. Of course it also has stacks of outdated books on multiple floors, which is a common problem: http://awfullibrarybooks.wordpress.com/ , and on the kids' computers Windows 3.1-era kids CD-ROM software running on them. Certainly if libraries did a better job of weeding, there'd be more space for other stuff. Of course that may again be related to available resources. Anyway, my point is, for whatever reason - lack of funds, public indifference, taking it for granted, whatever - most libraries are run poorly from a keeping-up-with-the-times standpoint. If that can somehow be addressed, I think their relevance would increase and more people would care, increasing funding, etc. Of course it's probably a catch-22, in that you "need money to make money"...

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Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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davyK
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The waning of public

The waning of public libraries should be a concern for everyone. The web is all well and good but it still isn't accessible to all no matter how many of us in web-land think it is.

I was brought up in a home with no telephone or family car. The local public library (and I emphasise local) was a fantastic resource and still should be. There is controlled web access in public libraries here now and that is as it should be - a resource made available free to all (ignoring the barriers put up by lack of PC usage knowledge) but not at the expense of quality books which seems to be the case here in N.Ireland. I used to work closely with public libraries so I am biased.

The problem I have with the web is the fact that people may take what is on there as fact - the editorial control, by the very nature of the web, means that it is too easy to get hold of a load of uninformed, badly written garbage. The printed word is no guarantee of avoiding that either but it's a damn sight more reliable. Maybe I underestimate people - but its too easy to get information that isn't necessarily of great quality - but maybe people are better at weeding that out than I give them credit for. A critical eye for anything - on the web or otherwise - is very valuable - any I hope people realise that.

Publishing "proper" work online is fine - the web is just another medium and maybe that is Bradbury's point - it doesn't actually add anything - except make it easier to vocalise opinions. I remember a quote - opinions are like assholes - everyone has one - but noone really wants to see yours.

How can anyone get their message across in the chaos that the web is when every idiot's opinion is of the same value?

Not everyone at present likes to learn off a screen either (I like it for reference/lookup but not for concepts usually - but that's just me and probably my generation). Once electronic books mature - advanced features will enhance the reading experience and people may well abandon books. (I myself have sometime wished to be able to search for text while reading a book.)

Bill Loguidice
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Nice arguments, but I have a

Nice arguments, but I have a few comments of my own in return, Rob.

First off, guys like Mickey Spillane were allowed to use typewriters because they were already well established (legendary) and had publisher relationships. Anyone today, no matter who you are, would be required to use Microsoft Word or at least something compatible. In other words, going against the grain is a luxury reserved only for those who have a pretty damned good excuse to do so.

Asimov embraced word processing. Clarke embraced technology, science and progress. It would be one thing if Bradbury dismissed "MySpace", "instant messaging" or any single component of the Internet/WWW, but he dismissed the WHOLE THING. That to me is the primary issue with Bradbury's statement. He's obviously a bit "off" these days because the Yahoo comment made no sense (Yahoo is not in the book business), but again, he dismissed among the greatest human achievements/advancements of any lifetime in whole. That's a bit more than being eccentric or contrarian.

Again, I may become an "old fogey" who complains about all the new fangled contraptions, but perhaps being in a great place in history - having been there for the beginning of the personal electronics revolution and seeing things evolve so rapidly and being very much into future and progress and all that (and strongly believe that societies that don't technologically and culturally evolve are dead ends) - will somewhat make me immune. For someone like a Bradbury who experience the great depression for goodness sake and was around BEFORE TV even, the changes must have been considerably more overwhelming. In other words, high technology is something our younger generations are far more comfortable with since he was probably already set in many of his ways well before such things were anything close to commonplace.

Books!
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Rowdy Rob
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Let's not be too hard on the "old timers."
Matt Barton wrote:

His silly response to the internet has been voiced by other prominent sci-fi authors. I heard pretty much the same spiel from Harry Harrison, Piers Anthony, and Joe Haldeman. Many of these old guys still work on vintage typewriters. Of the lot, only Piers Anthony had boldly gone to a computer solution, and it sounded like a TRS-80 to hear him describe it. :) As far as I know, only the newer guys like Orson Scott Card are really doing anything with the net.

Let's imagine fifty years from now, where people will be laughing at authors such as Bill Loguidice and Matt Barton. "Ha ha, these fogeys still think that typing on computers with word processors is the way to go! They still use 'Word' and such! They're still afraid of jamming a spike in their head to read their thoughts! Ha, I'm glad the death sentence was placed on them for having outmoded feelings! Well, let me get back to my Orgasmatron."

I don't care how forward-thinking you are, you're bound to be set in your ways at some point. Until the time where my direct thoughts are plopped, fully punctuated, onto the screen, I'll still be typing. (Well, maybe, unless something cooler comes along.)

The overall impression of Mr. Bradbury, as portrayed in this article, is good. It was only a couple of sentences in the article that might be construed as controversial, and who knows? Even these quotes might have been taken out of context.

I would really like to hear WHY Mr. Bradbury feels the Internet is such a negative force (if he indeed does). I'm sure he could provide some food for thought. A couple of minor quips is not enough, and is certainly not enough to hang the man.

As for authors still using typewriters and such.... well, go with what works. Mickey Spillane used a typewriter until his death, yet he wrote many best-selling books until his death. It's not so much a technology thing as a "comfort" thing. Artists of all sorts will know what I'm talking about. You must feel comfortable with your environment and your "tools" to feel free to truly express yourselves. These guys have achieved more with a typewriter than many others with superior tools have. These guys should be exalted, not scorned or laughed at.

qoj hpmoj o+ 6uo73q 3Jv 3svq jnoh 77V

Matt Barton
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I got the chance to hear

I got the chance to hear Bradbury talk when he came to LSU back in...Must have been 95 or 96. He was in a wheelchair then and wasn't doing so well, but he had a great speech that focused mostly on the need for space travel.

His silly response to the internet has been voiced by other prominent sci-fi authors. I heard pretty much the same spiel from Harry Harrison, Piers Anthony, and Joe Haldeman. Many of these old guys still work on vintage typewriters. Of the lot, only Piers Anthony had boldly gone to a computer solution, and it sounded like a TRS-80 to hear him describe it. :) As far as I know, only the newer guys like Orson Scott Card are really doing anything with the net.

In a way it's paradoxical. How could these guys be pushing so hard for technological advances like space travel, and then poopoo obvious breakthroughs like the internet? I don't give a darn how big or luxurious your city library is, it is nothing, NOTHING compared to what you can access with a $50 used PC and a dial-up internet connection.

I think you have to look at the literary tradition they're coming from. Even though they wrote and loved science fiction, it was all in printed form. They probably grew up dreaming about the day when they'd have shelves laden with their own books in hardbound, lovingly produced editions. They also all wanted to make a lot of money selling books. Indeed, I've heard some of them bash libraries and used book stores precisely because they cut into their sales. They can also be silly about copyrights, eager to say that everybody copied their work or stole their ideas, yet refusing to acknowledge that their work is anything but 100% original. Yeah, right.

It's very easy to lionize these guys and think they're minor deities, but of course they're only human. They have their foibles just like the rest of us. As far his hating colleges and libraries--again, how many people would have read any of his stories if they weren't taught in schools? Just ludicrous, to say the least.

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