preservation and persistence of the changing book


stretched triad

Looking at a new book on the subject, it must certainly be apparent that attentive careful expositions of flickering enactments of open screen text are best transacted in print. You can read all about it in Comparative Textual Media; Transforming the Humanities in the Postprint Era, edited by N. Katherine Hayles and Jessica Pressman.

The production grit is well disguised with the University of Minnesota imprint drop shipped from the south side university press distribution plant operating under University of Chicago administration with products contracted from huge book on demand factories such as Lightning Source in Nashville. That’s “a burn on the Ryan” as we would say.

But the fancier transactions are the hand-offs of embodied sensations of flickering texts in the ambience. This is stretching the triad of surface, image and commodity that was imagined sufficient for all near-book-like reading, as if. Is everyone or anyone convinced that academic constructs should be driven to feral behaviors? Can humanist geeks and geek humanists survive in book city? Will our Hero, Resilience of Book Transmission dodge the screen sectarians and move on?

stretched triad 2

The magnificent program for art conservation at Buffalo State College provides intensive instruction and research across specialties of conservation treatment and materials analysis; between practice of Conservators and Scientists. Perhaps an open question is a stretch to a third component of practice and to a triad of transactions. This third vector would engage the practice of library preservation management as it emerges within the specialty of book conservation practice. Here we encounter the advent of digital humanities and the projection of book-centric preservation in this flickering screen zone of patrimony. Just such an instigation may occur.

token key

tally texting

We are supplying a learning aid for teaching book history to 4th and 5th graders. Of course one of the exercises will be with clay. The students are invited to use clay to invent writing using the exemplar of counting tokens.

The relation of commodity counting tokens and the advent of writing is recognized across five thousand years of archeological record as interpreted in studies of Denise Schmandt-Besserat. These enigmatic little wedges of clay and their counterpart tallies as marked on their clay envelopes provoke the most exciting recognitions. Here are just some from a few minutes.

The various tokens can all be made from a palm rotated marbles. These spheres can be flattened to make the discoids, rolled to make the cylinders and pinched to make the tetrahedrons and otherwise finger manipulated to make all others such as ovoids, quadrangles, biconoids, rhomboids or paraboloids. Beginning with the uniform clay marbles provides an elegant production method and the stylus marked symbols of shaped tokens schematize their shapes. Are the finger shaped tokens beginning to sound like words and their symbols beginning to sound like writing?

Johanna Drucker accounts for interplay of lettering templates and the binary displacement of defining and making letters. She notes the discord between technical image code and the ductile “clay” of hand inscription. If we compile recognition units of letter, word, and line together for our immediate purpose, we still need the tactile exercise for the children of making ideas into things.

It is a cognitive premise that we have pattern recognition powers applied to assimilate words as shapes. It follows that words are read as shaped letters and that lines of text are shaped words. From these derivative features we can surmise that symbolizing the shaped constructs, or writing, will also correlate with the cognitive pattern recognition strategy. Here is where technology intrudes. The shape transformer from token to symbol is a wedged stylus. Making one you immediately recognize the stylus as the pre-cursive type founders punch and then you also recognize cuneiform as counter relief in letterpress impression.

type texting

And there is another lurking discovery here. If words are shapes, what can be made of configurations or episodes of finger movements that elicit words from keyboards? And what is the implication of displacement from clay to finger prompting of mechanical and electronic lettering of words? Why are the counting tokens so iconic and keys so anomalous?

Keyboard displacement begins with speeding of text production. The Linotype operator produced text five times faster than the compositor at the case. Automation of mat or letter assembly, type founding, and mat distribution was integrated to a single machine/operator for the first time and the Linotype performed all three operations simultaneously in an eleven second cycle. Assembly of the characters was transformed as the spelled prompt from letter to letter was shortened while the keyboard also efficiently deployed punctuation, small caps, italic, bold, and other type sort variations within the same streaming assembly. This speeded text production, propagated content, opened new content genres and coverage and signaled the end of pirate copy for filling out content.

The Linotype keyboard features a different “lay” of the characters than either the arrangement of the case for hand setting and the typewriter or computer keyboard. Merganthaler’s design facilitated English spelling frequencies and accelerated keyboard navigation. Cut to Eldon, now well into his eighties, at the keyboard. Eldon is considered the world’s fastest living Linotype compositor and you can watch him and his fingers in the epic “Linotype: The Film”. Deaf Eldon’s touch-typing appears as lightning piano playing. The line-casting machine is alive with the automations he sets in motion. Using Mergenthaler’s ETAION array Eldon can set almost twice as fast as he could on the QUERTY array.

Another old “operator”, Buddy, was sent to typing class with teen-aged girls. He sat down and could type gibberish instantly. The instructor left him alone and soon he was typing perfectly. Remember, these operators can spell and hyphen -ate error-free. There is no “delete” key on a Linotype and a missed word can cascade a whole paragraph. What mysterious cognitive saccades are in place here? Where did the clay of the counting token go? Perhaps it is a “just so” story; that the recursive displacement between concept and clay or between imagination and making is the “thingness” of ideas. Children enjoy the ambivalence, stealth, good humor and eerie relevance of this situation so disconcerting for adults.

The diorama of American innovation of keyboard automation is well known. Adventures of a whole generation of inventors to cross over this obstacle of hand type setting are fundamental to later 19th century American enterprise and mass communication.

The Linotype exemplifies a near perfect syncopation of machine and operator interaction. The machine provides many cycle overrides but the operator must set the parameters for the machine cycle and respond to many signals, sounds, line sending actions, drive clutching and casting and distribution. Linotypes required continuous, on the fly, operator programming. This choreography began with the Linotype’s displacement of the compositor from the case and ended with the operator moved away from the machine itself.

The Linotype machine/operator collaboration proved versatile for a century. The Brooklyn made machine was used to produce a great variety of print genres and type matter. While line casting was applied primarily in newspaper production but it also came to wide use in many other printing specialties and was readily adopted for directory and bookwork. Its reliable performance in the field also advanced its use in job printing. It is no small wonder of its adaptability that line cast slugs could be locked up with hand set composition, half-tone cuts and display work or otherwise locked up as a matrix master for cylinder plate casting.

tiled texting

In the mid 1850’s on both sides of the East River young people were still fingering hand set type. Young Sam Clemens, “tramp” printer, was a lighting compositor in a Manhattan plant and Walt Whitman was making his first book in a dingy Brooklyn job shop. In the same decade other young ladies began fingering keys of typewriter arrays and Ottmar Mergenthaler of keyboard automation fame was born. A displacement between ideas and things was positioned to emerge as a force in the resilience of American literary transmission.

Other nineteenth century inventions such as telegraphy and instantaneous communication, photo print reproduction, web fed rotary presses, and electrical power all came to bear. Of new consequence was the live interplay of pictures and captions with such novel accommodations as expressive reference to photo imaged personalities. Text eventually flowed to tile compartments of the screen. New anatomies of literary and non-literary production became an American trait. Yet, as with other revolutions, the particular transformation to keyboard prompted text production was little remarked then or now.

One suggestive possibility here is that humanist anomalies such as the codex or the screen book obscure other inventions such as American keyboard texting. Perhaps Ottmar continued automation of words; just such a transaction is exemplified by his line caster and perhaps is now fulfilled in the server cloud displaced from molten metal. What is missing is the distinctive clay shaping of words of tally tokens associated with the advent of writing. The keys are uniform and the words are saccades of flickering finger motions. Just such flickering was apparent in early cinema frames and now is apparent in flickering page turns of screen books. Evidently our evolved mind can adapt to such innovations. Even more inherent may be productive merge and complementary integration of distinctive textual media.



We are supplying a learning aid for teaching book history to 4 and 5th graders. Of course one of the exercises will be with clay. The students are invited to use clay to invent writing using the exemplar of the counting tokens.

Recognized in 5000 years of archeological record is the relation of counting tokens and the advent of writing. These enigmatic little wedges of clay and their counterpart tallies marked with a stylus on their clay envelopes provoke the most exciting recognitions. Here are just some of the surprising recognitions from a few minutes of the experience.

The various tokens can all be made from a palm rolled sphere. The spheres can be flattened to make the discoids, rolled to make the cylinders and pinched to make the tetrahedrons and otherwise finger manipulated to make all the others such as ovoids, quadrangles, biconoids, rhomboids or paraboloids. Beginning with the uniform spheres provides an elegant production method and the stylus marked symbols of such tokens schematize their shapes. Are the finger shaped tokens beginning to sound like words and their symbols beginning to sound like writing?

Other realizations occur as hands prompt the mind. It is a known cognitive premise that we have pattern recognition powers applied to reading to assimilate words as shapes. It follows that words are noticed as shaped letters and that lines are shaped words. From these derivative features we can surmise that symbolizing the shaped constructs, or writing, will also correlate with the pattern recognition strategy. Here is where technology intrudes.

The shape transformer from token to symbol is a wedged stylus. Cutting one you immediately recognize the stylus as the pre-cursive type founders engraved punch and then you also recognize cuneiform as counter relief in letterpress impression. There is also the other strange factor of persistence of the clay impressed symbol and the surviving evidence of the early “tablet” symbol across 5,000 years! Perhaps books are ideas made into things….

idea thing

We can begin with a premise that books are ideas made into things so we can expect to run into them on a walk. “Oh, yes there is an idea thing now, just behind that pick-up truck.” Go over there, but wind lifts it up and beyond reach. It is moving away. There is a combustion smell, but it may not have been the idea thing. You look closer; it is a drone; guided, but behaving as an insect and then it looses guidance and drops to the ground. “Yep, burnt.”

Pick it up. “Fixable…”




medium augmented learning

There is the skepticism that a hybrid merge of MOOCs with traditional live instruction will only produce a New Age AV augmentation of the course work. In the hybrid trials (ITHAKA S+R, MOOCs in the Classroom) the MOOCs are intended as auxiliary even though they were produced as cohesive teaching products. This results in a square peg in round socket conflict. Here the hybrid transaction is intended to “shave off the corners of the peg”. There are indications that such an approach is counter productive. Perhaps another hybrid approach would be assimilation of the autonomies of live and screen instructions as such.

Assimilation of a hybrid of two autonomous learning sources within a given course work is not that innovative or that untried. The suggested model for integration of MOOCs would be the use of monographic books in association with live instruction. This model has the added, proven advantages of accentuating student responsibility and stimulating the challenges of an ambivalence of learning sources.

as if

“Unlike reflective tablet and smartphone screens, the latest Kindle Paperwhite reads like paper—no annoying glare, even in bright sunlight. Adjust your screen’s brightness for great reading in any light. Kindle Paperwhite won’t leave you tethered to an outlet. A single charge can last up to eight weeks (based on a half hour of reading per day with wireless off and the light setting at ten), unlike tablets that need to be charged each night. Thinner than a pencil, lighter than a paperback—and over 30% lighter than iPad mini. Comfortably hold Kindle Paperwhite in one hand for long reading session. Kindle Paperwhite is purposely designed as a dedicated e-reader. Indulge your love of reading without interruptions like email alerts.”

Notice that the word “book” is not used. The electrophor screen is like paper or a sheet of paper and not like the commodity of a book. “Like” is now used as “as if”. Xerox was once styled as the “Document Company” stubbornly turning out paper. Amazon is more like a “Like Document Company”, as if.

feral excursion

“A collision of creativity and ingenuity, Steampunk denotes an era when steam power was widely used during the 19th century and pays homage to the Victorian Era and Industrial Revolution. It then blends prominent elements of science fiction, fantasy or technological developments. Often well known for their design aesthetic, some describe the Steampunk style as “Victorian through a modern lens.” Delicious eats and treats including a High Tea and Victorian Dinner Trains, steampunk handiwork, photo opportunities galore, an insider’s look through a shop tour, music reflective of days gone by, an exotic Absinthe Cocktail Tasting, and so much more are just a snippet of the weekend’s events.”

Will the excursion “behind a massive steam locomotive” be reported on typewriter and sent to Linotype compositors to run off on the steam powered, flat bed press?


an epigenetic ecology

Material Traits; as an object

text dominated; black and white
compact and portable; accumulated into libraries
manipulated access; movable, and body engaged
cognitive refinement; designed for bicameral, haptic, and pattern reception
structural composite; a built object

Cultural Traits; as a class of patrimony

time-paced; a beginning, middle and ending, (paratext prompting)
educational tool; basic to instructional method and institutional identity
auxiliary to other patrimony; augments meaning of other media
commerce driven; pivots technological and social influence on culture
devotional role; iconic and canonic witness

Resilience Traits; as circumstance for persistence and preservation

transmission diversity; spans paper, screen, and audio formats
propagation capacity; mass production, high reproducibility
passive survival; distributed and institutional preservation
treatment repertoire; cohesive and advancing methods
institutional obligation; foundation and university support

as if

Roy’s tremendous reach is wonderfully sampled in his current Waterloo series and his equally efficient depiction of these at his blog. Roy is also a prime moderator of our Resilience of Book Transmission Feral Seminar now adventuring in the vortext of a six discipline convergence. Keep calm and recite:1. Books are for use. 2. Every reader his or her book. 3. Every book its reader. 4. Save the time of the reader. 5. A library is a growing organism.

new age

(sweep of wind and echo of thunder) Our androgynous hero Resilience of Book Transmission and a small band of adventurers is advancing into the landscape of the Epigenetic Ecology. It is a time in the latter Anthropocene. They have been following coastline and are building a sense of the planet. Using bi-cameral insight, haptic perceptions and pattern recognition skills the group also packs powers of book and literary studies, library science and book arts. They are armed with tech gear and social communications.

They are not bound for any place in particular. They are feral. Ambivalent behavior, stealth, good humor and eerie relevance to the situation at hand keeps them moving. They pass through villages of history and capitals of culture keeping their demeanor and sense of proportion. They rest and relax in libraries along the way. They are somewhat immortal.

board acting splay

board acting splay

degrees of separation

Separating the book reader from the printed book, the recent product tour of the Kindle PaperWhite suggests that this different device will enhance the experience. The demonstration depicts wonderful mobility and leisure of a secure existence and connotes an enhancement of the engaged and learning mind. All of this is conveyed by a well -designed shopping device.

But is this book reading? As always the meaning depends on the reader. It is certainly dedicated reading as the black electrophor device is not suited to much else. Aside from playing with these devices I have a narrow minded mind myself and look first to hand held behavior and then to page orientation.

What is it about screen workstations that are always horizontal? Observe the surrounding screens at a stock and bond brokerage. At the same time phones and book readers are vertical. Is it a contrast of bionic reading; that one needs a landscape and the other, at hand-held distance, needs a portrait? That distinction would accord with cognitive capacity for dimensional space configuration and facial pattern recognition. And what other accords lurk in book reading? Certainly Keith Smith’s “punctuation of the page”.

stay tuned

Feral Seminar
a study of Resilience of Book Transmission
session 8. Literary Studies with transition to Composite Perspective, 10.17.2013

Last week our hero Resilience of Book Transmission was held captive by the fringe, outlier of the art world, Book Art. This currently mean-spirited self-referential and content impoverished gnome was once a hard working angel with an honored place in the Art Pantheon. But Book Art has gone Feral. We Feral Seminarians understand the homeless life and we also tend to bad behavior. We understand.

Literary studies also have an edge and, as they rescue us from Book Arts, we may confront another rough cuisine. But literary studies and literary criticism have pedigree back to exegesis and elegy and are currently crucial to the future course of wider literature. It may not even be a stretch to imagine that literary studies could provoke a rapture as our hero Resilience of Book Transmission wrangles with both database and narrative source integration and cross mediation.

The readings for this current episode then, not surprisingly, fling us into the vortex of the Composite Perspective itself. From here there is no useful escape as we wonder into things to come and Books to Be.

1. Burdick, Anne, Drucker, Joanna, Linenfeld, Peter, Presner, Todd, and Schnapp, Jeffrey; DIGITAL_HUMANITIES, MIT Press, 2012. A purely collaborative authorship providing a robust logic and graceful exposition of the reach and influence of digital humanities for culture transmission. An essential perspective for integration of a book-centric prospectus.
2. Collins, Christopher, Paleopoetics, the evolution of the preliterate imagination, Columbia University, 2013. This is a mighty merge of cognitive science and literary study. Adventure in the enclaves of episodic, mimetic, mythic and theoretic conceptions and their literary consequence.
3. Deegan, Marilyn, and Sutherland, Katherine, Transferred Illusions – Digital Technology and the Forms of Print, Ashgate, 2009. Comprehensive exposition of the interdependence of print and digital resource in the academic environment. Excellent historical context and fascinating evaluation of risk to cultural transmission.
4. Eco, Umberto and Carriere, Jean-Claude, This is not the end of the book; , 2012. Magnificent interview discussing the destiny of books in a context of culture transmission and a demonstration of book dependent scholarship.
5. Farrell, Thomas J., and Soukup, Paul A., Of Ong & Media Ecology, essays in communication, composition and literary studies, Hampton Press, 2012. Excellent source for the continuing relevance of Walter Ong when considering book prospects.
6. Hayles, Katherine N., How We Became Post-Human, Virtual Bodies in Cibernetics, Literature, and Informatics, University of Chicago Press, 1999. Associates “metaphoric networks” with capacities of human physiology. Extends this circle to wider computational universe.
7. Hayles, Katherine N., How We Think, Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis, University of Chicago, 2012. Presents Comparative Media Studies as a research and teaching agenda well positioned to accommodate print and screen humanities.
8. Johns, Adrian, The Nature of the Book, Print and Knowledge in the Making, University of Chicago Press, 1998. This classic of book study integrates cognitive sciences both as a source and history of origin as a narrative of reading functions. (see chapter 6)
9. Kirschenbaum, Matthew G., Mechanisms New Media and Forensic Imagination, MIT press, paperback 2012. This work spans literary studies and digital technologies of inscription to provide an agenda for comparative media study. Full review of sources is integrated and a working distinction of formal and forensic materiality spans paper and screen formats.
10. Van der Weel, Adriaan, Changing our textual minds, Towards a digital order of knowledge, Manchester University Press, 2011. This is an exemplar of cross-disciplinary study that finds a clear mission to configure an order of the book between print and screen interplay. There is also excellent historical accounting with a construct of relevance of such historical template to future projection.


Are numbers words? (student responses) To a computer they are. And guess what? The story of the book also begins with numbers and counting tokens. These tokens were used to keep track of early farming produce. Harvest to be stored together was allocated to individual farmers by tokens and these were gathered into a clay envelope. Some smart token distributor noticed that the number of tokens in any envelope could be symbolized on the outside with marks made by a stick or stylus. This was the invention of the cuneiform tablet and clay books and writing itself. It is a very strange part of the story of the book that the oldest and the newest type of book is named a tablet!



Sometime in 2010 it became time to compose a book here at FotB. The result was the ninety page marvel; Future of the Book: A Way Forward. It was home published and revised a thousand times until 2012 when a final edition was released. This little book did indeed open a way forward and the editorial offices now produce four books of about one hundred pages with another in-press.

Over the recent years FotB has attempted to sell these illustrated gems at $10 each but, generally they must be given away. They continue as Iowa Book Works hand made publications. They are wonderfully insightful and colorful. Here are the citations for the current product line:

1. Future of the Book: A Way Forward, 2012, with chapters on Context, Book Transaction, Book Nature, Book Practice and Book Prospects.

2. Adventures in Book Preservation, 2012, a compendium of essays introducing a synthesis of book conservation and library preservation.

3. A Commonplace Book, 2013, a selection of postings from the futureofthebook.com website up to 2012.

4. Screen Shots: FotB, 2013, running screen capture of postings in 2013.

5. Feral Seminar: Resilience of Book Transmission, 2013, reports of a seminar study of six disciplinary perspectives on the future of the book.

So that is the shape of things to come and books to be. FotB web presence is now in its fifteenth year. We came across the 20th century boundary and into the 21st with a continuing role of the paper book in a context of its screen delivery. These little publications are a token of that resilience. Still $10 each, hopefully. All titles paper-based.

out of sorts

Just one other comment on the ed to ‘d contraction. In the hand set period there can be concern for running out of sorts with regard to e. The type was used repeatedly and the e’s can be damaged by their more frequent use if not otherwise relatively diminished. Recall that fonts were hand founded letter by letter and expendable e’s would be a luxury. This is somewhat suggested by the contractions such as th’ for the. With the advent of keyboard composition (end of the 19th century) this constraint disappears.

Just such a constraint of hand-set print composition could have influenced contemporary manuscript conventions too since many sources of reference for authors and writers were printed sources. Imagine if Shakespeare’s remarked innovative deletion of the apostrophe, as in hoodwinkt, was only impatience with a silly print composition constraint.

Such a skew of earlier hand composition may have played out further after the advent of commercial keyboard composition in enclaves of continued hand setting such as production of 20th century “fine press books”. There the hand set work was based on automated foundry production with ample e’s and very lightly used type overall. In that context the apostrophe contractions as copy required would have resolved into a purely poetic convention. Convention of 20th century fine press work would otherwise trend to full use of e’s.


Hi Gary,

I am pleased to announce my upcoming exhibition, performance, workshop and gallery talk at Florida Atlantic University’s Jaffe Center for Book Arts in Boca Raton, opening October 18. Attached is the postcard announcement. I have a book produced in conjunction with the exhibit. You can leaf through. The book includes images of my work from the early 1980s to the present and has written contributions by you, Keith A. Smith, Miriam Schaer and Richard Lewis.

best regards,




We were digging out in an oblique effort of preparation for the annual Linotype University session. This rendezvous is the template of the Feral Seminars now sprouting up. We paused in the back building to look at a DVD of Linotype: The Film but the old TV would not read it. So we tried it on the one at Larry and Mary’s. We looked at the trailer five times and then stumbled on the Bonus feature. We never did find the movie.

We were rather enthralled and, to be honest, were skeptical before. In the Bonus feature Doug Wilson ran commentary over the excellent production features and the distinctive quotes of a real menagerie of Linotype characters. It was an epiphany to sit still from our labors and immersions of the main building and just pause and listen to what the collective actions of all the specialists and eccentrics actually mean. It was sobering to see our lives and our passions known and documented by a very intelligent and equally committed film crew. Get it.


Dear Book Futurists,

Already we have made progress with our three key terms in Resilience of Book Transmission as we progress toward a composite understanding.

In Resilience we have a trial construct of four traits, which could well be wrong or inadequate. These are ambivalence or capacity to respond in various directions to changing circumstance, stealth or capacity to avoid extraneous distraction, good humor or capacity to enjoy discussion and contention, and relevance or smart focus on current challenges. Note these traits as reflected by Brian and Jan in operation of their enterprises. These specialists presented current tech and commerce of paper books.

Book is a narrative exposition featuring an extensive textual transmission as a monographic work. Again we may be wrong… The term book is obviously in need of it own definition even though it will span various formats and both human and machine readership. We found some of the inherent need for the book in evolutionary capacities as they are adapted and utilized in cultural mechanisms. Cognitive science offers insight into books as an augmentation of language as catalyzed by the invention of writing.

Transmission is the social dimension of communication and the role of books to support cultural consciousness. The third key word in resilience of book transmission encompasses the mediation of technologic and social factors of book resilience. It can be exciting to define this interplay in a given situation as the combo socio/technologic factor is composed of a complementary pair. So there is a socio/technologic animal at work and this organism is the maker making books.

We have yet to bring to our studies the disciplines of library science presenting the systems and services of community building, book arts the act of writing as an expressive graphic art, or literary studies and the act of writing as story telling skill. And we have yet to build a trial definition of transmission for our purpose.


“”The tail of these things tends to be very long lived; [the transition to e-books] will go on for a very long time,” he said. “Our heaviest Kindle e-book buyers also buy lots of paper books, so they’re buying both. For many people, it’s not an either-or choice. If you go out into the future far enough, paper books will be luxury items, but that’s quite a distance.” Jeff Bezos

hummm…Going out into the “long now” of the commerce sector in a hybrid stance appears inevitable enough. Is another such projection then possible in the humanities? Take a glance at a new deal for the humanities with its own hybrid flare.



Dear Book Futurist,

We are delighted to receive your application for Director of a new Center for Strategic Study. As you realize the position is a bit of a janitorial responsibility with the usual funding, advising, and systems transactional duties. But an exciting opportunity to innovate and open up entire landscapes within and beyond your home discipline is inherent here as well.

Initially we are intent on a stealthy and even feral presence lurking under the umbrella of the established parent organization. But we are sprouting up in such a vast, vacant zone that we will soon need expert administrative management to accommodate the prospective demand. Welcome to the zone between.

Our needs are rational enough; we need a leader with ambivalence, stealth, good humor, and an eerie sense of job relevance. The risk for us is early, unintended displacement of the goal. So the goal is the only fixed reference at this point.

And what is our goal? We are intent on advancing the resilience of the book to come. We will not be the binary here, but we look beyond database vs. narrative and look to a future book equally accessible to both automated and bionic reading in all contexts of origin, distribution and display. We look beyond partitions of print, audio and screen formats. The goal is advance of resilience of the book across disciplines and across partitions of theory and practice and beyond enclaves of makers and deliberators. We hope you are still interested in the position.

Best wishes, Student Search Committee.

more resilience

Library science studies systems and services of libraries, but what do they know about resilience of book transmission? Well for one thing they are specialists at between; they look between human and computer metadata, between source and surrogate, between shelved and cloud collections, and between latent and retrospective books. These and many other investigations into the between zones make library science our friend in the study of resilience in book transmission.

Librarians take the dictum to heart; “Don’t be the binary!” Bibliographers, for example, look between for the latent books. This was once a practice of lurking in the stacks and meditating on missing works between any two books on the shelf. They could do this because of an amazing, overlooked, property of print books; they can be efficiently placed and accumulated side by side. It is not obvious that they were designed to do this. Such a search for the missing book, continuing today in screen reading environments, is one of librarians’ useful contributions to the resilience of book transmission.

Between human and computer

Librarians are cyborgs. This is not quite the same as being zombies. They know how to eat brains but they have excellent table manners. They hang out at mad hatter tea parties and have developed a six sense and seventh. They can cite the repertoire of keyboard prompted texting going back to the Linotype. They understand that the pencil is a technology. They visit the modern city as if a ruin and a ruin as if the future. As in the 1950’s movie they “Break the Arrow” of time and do the vaudeville warm-up before the screen epic.

Between source and surrogate

What is real? Librarians don’t care. If anything they can mediate anything or non-thing. They were pioneers at microfilm of newspapers. That despised display simulation is now something of a darling of steam punkers and young screen readers in general. Librarians, siting there, move between on-site and cloud collections. They also interplay the self-authenticating affordances of paper books with the self-indexing screen books. This is an important utilization of book resilience. Such action can even define book resilience.

Between on site and remote resources

Shakespeare or Borges or someone else once said; “Heaven must be a library.” Who offered the attribution is known and others may have said that nature or language are libraries. Librarians being stealthy first try to answer such questions without Google, using native intelligence. This strategy enables them to answer the reason for questions. Librarians are experts at questions. This knack is sometimes termed mediation and it is one of the stealth components of disintermediation. Finally librarians know how to get lost. This is an important skill, or as the mystic says; “Walk into the Dark.” They are comfortable as bionic entities which you can experience at any ALA meeting, somewhere.



Dark matter, storytelling, crystals and political science; all the interesting stuff is at MOOCs. So the FotB question is what is the paratext of this panoply? It may be no more than the arrays at municipal book arts centers where the diorama of courses is just what the city wants, and whatever. Or there may be an element of deception at work repackaging standard goods.

So the paratext, or the mechanism of the allure to participation, may be a marketing strategy to present packaged diversity of flavors so attractive that the commodity chips are of less interest. There is also the typographic partition of all MOOC content into “little boxes”. Such commoditized content is near to monetized content… Another paratext at work is quickness and ease of certification. Such is needed in instruction but elides the diligence needed to achieve ease and convenience.

I enjoy using the word; elide. It reminds me of heuristic (or heura?) . It just drops in almost anywhere. I have no idea what such words mean.

constructs 2 and 3

Cognitive sciences provide a crucial construct for understanding codex mechanisms and the mysterious efficiencies of reading. Brain lateralization, engagement of dexterity and haptic response, and pattern recognition capacity are all embedded features of the bionic reader. It remains to be clarified if a profile of bionic perception can be mimed into database construct and machine reading. Google engineers are “not scanning books for human readers”.


A suspect feature of Hominid evolution is lateralization of the brain essentially doubling mental capacity and characterized in our own specie by our unique handedness. Left and right, sinister and dexter are legacies of brain lateralization. Care to entertain a theory of binary conceptions?

A great story in cognitive science is origin of brain lateralization. The Hominid behavior of projectile predation, or one arm throwing of rocks, is especially suggestive. Bipedal primates living on the dangerous African savanna used a novel defense of practiced one arm rock throwing. (This behavior cannot be confirmed archeologically although the lithic evidence may be copious.) Projectile predation is a theory of evolutionary lateralization of the brain, but also consider relevance to the book. The book is a projectile thrown across time and cultures carefully calculated in trajectory and released with intention to stun its target.


The term haptic is commandeered for our purposes from fields of robotic engineering and perceptual psychology. Haptics is the study of touch as a channel of communication. The science intrudes into codex functionality where dexterity and handed manipulations are in play. Haptics factor into readability studies including evaluation of comparative affordances of paper and screen display. This component of cognitive science also laps into keyboard prompting and touch screen navigation.


Pattern recognition is an eerie feature of human conceptualization. The anatomic structures and neurologic locations of these conceptual operations are intensely studied within attempts to explain consciousness. As with all relevance to reading pattern recognition of words is accomplished by commandeered capacities that were evolved for other purposes. We know this due to the fully universal efficiency of humans to learn to recognize words as visual patterns and story elided constructions. The brain did not evolve to read text and pictures, but with training, it can.

Suggested Study Paths

Cultural evolution has taken over in the short term as it further accentuates learning reading methods within their social contexts. Cognitive sciences can also assist here to advance understanding of books in their transmission across formats of paper, screen and audio display and reception.

Cognitive science is a fundamental player in the study of resilience of book transmission. This discipline evinces classic traits of resilience; of ambiguity, stealth, good humor and weird relevance. Behaviors of bionic reading contrast with machine database ingestion, processing and extraction but advantages or coherencies of their interplay are ambiguous. The relation of cognitive affordance as used in book design is unclear or under defined. The cognitive sciences are happy to advance in their enclaves and have stealthy explanations that can be exploited. The application of cognitive science to resilience of book transmission is fun. This stuff is weirdly relevant.


Cascades of concern are applied to linguistic determinism. One evident mechanism of how we think is simple, wily word selection and an anatomic fit of their assembly. For both writers and readers, communication is a design craft.

This small determinism is at work in “Changing Our Textual Minds” by Adriaan van der Weel. Another feature of this work is a book-centric focus; a book that is a book about book transmission. Van der Weel adventures in many disciplines of eerie relevance. Look too for other traits of resilience such as ambivalence, stealth, and good humor.



“Luddites opposed only technology ‘hurtful to Commonality’, ie. to the common good, rather than the narrow interests of the few. So being a luddite today means being a skeptic about the dogma of technology as progress, not about denying the real benefits of some technologies.” New Luddites 200

Well, let’s look exactly between unmanaged and elective progress. Here again we may at least confirm the instructive resilience of book transmission. Perhaps we will also further study the wily wit of resilient behavior.

Note the enclave readiness to adopt the name Luddite. Here an immediate negative engages a positive and the positive negative is one of the signature ambiguities of resilience. Another surprise is the persistence of a movement from 1813 to 2013 through stealth and good humor. Another surprise is seemingly sudden relevance.

So here is a take-home: resilience is behavior featuring immediate ambiguity, eerie stealth and weird good humor, and strangely persistent relevance. Books for sure…


“And with ereader software from iBooks to Kindle using the bookshelf metaphor to display collections, why not go one step further and link those bookshelves together into whole libraries?” TeleRead

Done deal, Borges too; libraries are all mostly imagined. Perhaps database access again confirms that we are not sure how satisfied the electrons or books are to be in libraries, but there they are, we imagine. And the library engine is there as well; you can grasp any given volume and look at it. A cognitive map and systemic access is there, imagined but weirdly real in the context. There is a lurking, loony librarian.


“Sarah Houghton, a.k.a. the tech-savvy blogger Librarian in Black, who directs the San Rafael Public Library in California, told Reema that it will take be than 100 years before all libraries are paperless. But she added that 10 to 20 percent of libraries could go bookless in the next decade.” NPR

Remember when savvy was a question? Back in the 80’s at an ALA big heads gathering a publisher said that by 2010 90% of all publication will be on-line. That is true but 90% of the same titles are also produced in print. Resilience counts.


“…electronic information is already completely different in character from that in a paper book. And that’s exactly why the paper book will have to survive, after all. Paper books will keep right on doing what they’ve always done so well.” John Lienhard, 1996

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