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Year: 2016

Categories

Categories on a blog have a way of getting out of control over time. Am trying to reduce their number, make them more useful, and put tags to better use.

Tonight’s Lecture

My initial personal takeaway from tonight’s lecture on digital mapping: It looks useful as an analytical tool, and for presentation, but in the end we still have to write narratives. Historians have to make choices, not present facts that merely speak for themselves. During the question and answer period, the story-telling aspect of such enterprises became clearer. Apparently a kind of directed narrative is the idea. Unfortunately, that got lost in the presentation of tools aimed at the already initiated. An inordinate amount of space was given to talking about… Read more Tonight’s Lecture

Automation

I was standing near the driver in my bus yesterday, waiting for the light to change so I could get off. When the light turned green, but the car in front of us didn’t move, the driver beeped his horn. I said, “People need to get off their phones,” which earned a laugh from the driver. Then he added something I hadn’t recognized about the situation: “Uber drivers are the worst. I thought taxi drivers were bad . . .” I almost quipped something about how automation will soon take care… Read more Automation

‘Black Man Driving’

A woman I met way back when my son and her daughter were still in kindergarten or the first grade has written a piece that drives home the unfortunate contradictions in what passes for a national conversation in these United States. It’s not preachy or partisan, just personal, the kind of thing that can make you think, even if you don’t happen to know the man in question.

My husband of twenty-seven years is a police officer. He’s a decent man, a kind man, the kind of police officer you’d want if you were in trouble. He’s also a black man. A black man who I worry about more when he is out of uniform than when he is wearing one.

Read the whole piece: Black Man Driving

Experts <—> Public

In most of today’s university disciplines, professional training serves to distance an individual from the public, to refine them into an ‘expert’ whose speech and writing are marked by incomprehensible formulae and keywords. But history-telling came out of an age before the era of experts, and its form is inherently democratic.

Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (2014; Cambridge UP, 2015), 56.

Rates of Change

Technology, institutions, mentalities and practices change at different rates. Technology, especially in the age of what has been called ‘the institutionalization of innovation’, changes rapidly. Society and its institutions change more slowly, a result of what has been called institutional ‘inertia’. Last to change are mentalities and practices, illustrating the presence of the past in the world of today.

— Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia (Polity, 2012), Kindle ed., chap. 9, “Chronologies of Knowledge.”

Commonplacing

Some years ago, I used a Tumblr blog as a kind of commonplace book. That fell by the wayside, but lately I’ve felt the need to have a place to save quotes again. Rather than use a separate venue, however, I’ll just collect them here under the commonplacing tag category.

I don’t intend to take extensive notes this way, but rather to grab things that I think can stand on their own. That’s the plan for now anyway.