a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

Wikipedia’s not just any old encyclopedia: James Bridle

Posted on the September 10th, 2010

In a blog post this week, James Bridle lays bare his optimism about humans and our doings. And this gutsy enthusiasm is a good and intelligent thing.

It’s not some pie-in-the-sky, be happy type of simpleton perspective. Bridle grounds his hope in close scrutiny of the systems we create, in particular publishing.

Bridle, a publisher and writer, is founder of the website booktwo.org. He describes the site’s focus as “the future of literature and the publishing industry”

Writing the recent post titled “On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony and Historiography” (Sept 6, 2010), Bridle reflects on a public talk he gave recently:

I talked about the Library of Alexandria, and the Yo La Long Dia, and the National Libraries of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq—all examples of cultural destruction caused in part by neglect and willful disregard for our shared patrimony.

These losses, despite their horror, will always happen: but what can we do to mitigate and understand them? In a world obsessed with “facts”, a more nuanced comprehension of historical process would enable us to better weigh truth…

…I do believe that we’re building systems that allow us to do this better, and one of our responsibilities should be to design and architect those systems to make this explicit, and to educate.

The particular system that Bridle goes on to discuss is Wikipedia.

…for me, Wikipedia is a useful subset of the entire internet, and as such a subset of all human culture. It’s not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot.

Read the full entry here.

(Found my way to Bridle’s post via the blog Bits at the New York Times)

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(3rd) Occasional U.S. news media round-up on presidential race

Posted on the July 15th, 2008

Who’s running the campaign?

They’re helping Obama make the day-to-day decisions about his campaign, they’re the team known as his brain trust. They’re all profiled in another long, informative Rolling Stone article offering a close-up look inside the Democratic Party Presidential nominee’s campaign (“Obama’s Brain Trust” by Tim Dickinson, July 10, 2008)

Talking about Iran and a couple of other things

Last week when Iran officials sent out saber-rattling photos of test launches of their missiles, the U.S. media immediately asked Obama for his reaction. See summary and seven-minute video of Obama’s response here (“Obama’s Iran TV Show Tour: More Diplomacy” The Huffington Post, July 9, 2008).

What is “outrage activism” and why is it so popular now?

Activist and Presidential race blogger Al Giordano harshly criticizes the “outrage activism” now so popular in the U.S. (“The Sky Didn’t Fall” The Field, July 10, 2008).

Getting out of Iraq

In yesterday’s New York Times, Obama wrote an op-ed about his proposed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq (“My Plan for Iraq” by Barack Obama, July 14, 2008).

You can please some of the people…*

In the past couple of weeks, Obama drew a lot of criticism from supporters and critics alike for some recent policy decisions. In this commentary piece from the Oxford University Press blog, a political science scholar offers his views on Obama’s new “flip flopping” (“The Anti-Intellectual Candidates” by Elvin Lim, July 14, 2008).

English only not a good thing

We should have every child speaking more than one language, Obama said during a campaign speech last week.

“It’s embarrassing when Europeans come over here. They all speak English, they speak French, they speak German, and then we go over to Europe and all we can say is Merci beaucoup.”

The Democratic Party nominee won a laugh but he was serious. Watch short short video here.

“Yes We Can” global style

Featuring one hundred people, and twenty-three languages, this video below offers tribute to Obama’s famous Yes We Can speech and to the original, megahit tribute video by will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas:

(See here for previous round-up)

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