Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Glass Box and the Commonplace Book

I began this blog over a year ago to serve as a space for random thoughts, musings, and a space for sharing interesting thoughts and musings of others that I find as I read and study and listen. I chose the title Commonplace to evoke the tradition of thoughtful people in times past who might keep books in which they would copy interesting or thought provoking passages from whatever they happened to be reading, often with a few notes of their own. The resulting remixes surely represented new works of their own- mashups, pre-digital style.

So when I read this piece by Steven Berlin Johnson entitled The Glass Box and the Commonplace Book, I was delighted to see that Mr. Johnson goes one step further, saying in effect that the future of text has two potential paths in our networked world- the model of the glass box or the model of the commonplace book. It is an interesting piece- with some equally interesting observations about the current limitations of the nascent iPad and its iBook application as indicative of the "glass box". Johnson's point is that it is the ability to snip, cut, paste, connect, remix, mashup text that is the beautiful value of writing and of text, digital or not.

The image above is from a digital exhibition at the Library of Congress, and shows Walt Whitman's commonplace book.

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