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The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library on Vimeo
[parts of the video (from the introduction): "1. Libraries existed to copy data. Libraries as warehouses was a recent idea and not a very good one 2. The online world used to be considered rhizomatic but recent events have proven that it is actually quite arboretic and precarious. 3. A method of sharing files using hard drives is slow, but it is extremely resilient. This reversalism is a radical tactic agains draconian proprietarianism. 4. There are forces and trends that are working against portable libraries."]

[Book is here: ]

"The Radical Tactics of the Offline Library is based on the book "Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries"
By Henry Warwick

The Personal Portable Library in its most simple form is a hard drive or USB stick containing a large collection of e-books, curated and archived by an individual user. The flourishing of the offline digital library is a response to the fact that truly private sharing of knowledge in the online realm is increasingly made impossible. While P2P sharing sites and online libraries with downloadable e-books are precarious, people are naturally led to an atavistic and reversalist workaround. The radical tactics of the offline: abandoning the online for more secure offline transfer. Taking inspiration from ancient libraries as copying centers and Sneakernet, Henry Warwick describes the future of the library as digital and offline. Radical Tactics: Reversalism and Personal Portable Libraries traces the history of the library and the importance of the Personal Portable Library in sharing knowledge and resisting proprietarian forces.

The library in Alexandria contained about 500,000 scrolls; the Library of Congress, the largest library in the history of civilization, contains about 35 million books. A digital version of it would fit on a 24 TB drive, which can be purchased for about $2000. Obviously, most people don’t need 35 million books. A small local library of 10,000 books could fit on a 64 GB thumb drive the size of a pack of chewing gum and costing perhaps $40. An astounding fact with immense implications. It is trivially simple to start collecting e-books, marshalling them into libraries on hard drives, and then to share the results. And it is much less trivially important. Sharing is caring. Societies where people share, especially ideas, are societies that will naturally flourish."
libraries  henrywarwick  archives  collection  digital  digitalmedia  ebooks  drm  documentary  librarians  alexandriaproject  copying  rhizomes  internet  online  sharing  files  p2p  proprietarianism  sneakernet  history  harddrives  learning  unschooling  property  deschooling  resistance  mesopotamia  egypt  alexandria  copies  decay  resilience  cv  projectideas  libraryofalexandria  books  scrolls  tablets  radicalism  literacy  printing  moveabletype  china  europe  publishing  2014  copyright  capitalism  canon  librarydevelopment  walterbenjamin  portability  andrewtanenbaum  portable  portablelibraries  félixguattari  cloudcomputing  politics  deleuze  deleuze&guattari  web  offline  riaa  greed  openstudioproject  lcproject 
november 2018 by robertogreco
How Civilization Started | The New Yorker
"In “Against the Grain: A Deep History of the Earliest States,” James C. Scott, a professor of political science at Yale, presents a plausible contender for the most important piece of technology in the history of man. It is a technology so old that it predates Homo sapiens and instead should be credited to our ancestor Homo erectus. That technology is fire. We have used it in two crucial, defining ways. The first and the most obvious of these is cooking. As Richard Wrangham has argued in his book “Catching Fire,” our ability to cook allows us to extract more energy from the food we eat, and also to eat a far wider range of foods. Our closest animal relative, the chimpanzee, has a colon three times as large as ours, because its diet of raw food is so much harder to digest. The extra caloric value we get from cooked food allowed us to develop our big brains, which absorb roughly a fifth of the energy we consume, as opposed to less than a tenth for most mammals’ brains. That difference is what has made us the dominant species on the planet.

The other reason fire was central to our history is less obvious to contemporary eyes: we used it to adapt the landscape around us to our purposes. Hunter-gatherers would set fires as they moved, to clear terrain and make it ready for fast-growing, prey-attracting new plants. They would also drive animals with fire. They used this technology so much that, Scott thinks, we should date the human-dominated phase of earth, the so-called Anthropocene, from the time our forebears mastered this new tool.

We don’t give the technology of fire enough credit, Scott suggests, because we don’t give our ancestors much credit for their ingenuity over the long period—ninety-five per cent of human history—during which most of our species were hunter-gatherers. “Why human fire as landscape architecture doesn’t register as it ought to in our historical accounts is perhaps that its effects were spread over hundreds of millennia and were accomplished by ‘precivilized’ peoples also known as ‘savages,’ ” Scott writes. To demonstrate the significance of fire, he points to what we’ve found in certain caves in southern Africa. The earliest, oldest strata of the caves contain whole skeletons of carnivores and many chewed-up bone fragments of the things they were eating, including us. Then comes the layer from when we discovered fire, and ownership of the caves switches: the human skeletons are whole, and the carnivores are bone fragments. Fire is the difference between eating lunch and being lunch."

"It was the ability to tax and to extract a surplus from the produce of agriculture that, in Scott’s account, led to the birth of the state, and also to the creation of complex societies with hierarchies, division of labor, specialist jobs (soldier, priest, servant, administrator), and an élite presiding over them. Because the new states required huge amounts of manual work to irrigate the cereal crops, they also required forms of forced labor, including slavery; because the easiest way to find slaves was to capture them, the states had a new propensity for waging war. Some of the earliest images in human history, from the first Mesopotamian states, are of slaves being marched along in neck shackles. Add this to the frequent epidemics and the general ill health of early settled communities and it is not hard to see why the latest consensus is that the Neolithic Revolution was a disaster for most of the people who lived through it.

War, slavery, rule by élites—all were made easier by another new technology of control: writing. “It is virtually impossible to conceive of even the earliest states without a systematic technology of numerical record keeping,” Scott maintains. All the good things we associate with writing—its use for culture and entertainment and communication and collective memory—were some distance in the future. For half a thousand years after its invention, in Mesopotamia, writing was used exclusively for bookkeeping: “the massive effort through a system of notation to make a society, its manpower, and its production legible to its rulers and temple officials, and to extract grain and labor from it.” Early tablets consist of “lists, lists and lists,” Scott says, and the subjects of that record-keeping are, in order of frequency, “barley (as rations and taxes), war captives, male and female slaves.” Walter Benjamin, the great German Jewish cultural critic, who committed suicide while trying to escape Nazi-controlled Europe, said that “there is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” He meant that every complicated and beautiful thing humanity ever made has, if you look at it long enough, a shadow, a history of oppression. As a matter of plain historical fact, that seems right. It was a long and traumatic journey from the invention of writing to your book club’s discussion of Jodi Picoult’s latest."

"The news here is that the lives of most of our progenitors were better than we think. We’re flattering ourselves by believing that their existence was so grim and that our modern, civilized one is, by comparison, so great. Still, we are where we are, and we live the way we live, and it’s possible to wonder whether any of this illuminating knowledge about our hunter-gatherer ancestors can be useful to us. Suzman wonders the same thing. He discusses John Maynard Keynes’s famous 1930 essay “The Economic Possibilities for Our Grandchildren.” Keynes speculated that if the world continued to get richer we would naturally end up enjoying a high standard of living while doing much less work. He thought that “the economic problem” of having enough to live on would be solved, and “the struggle for subsistence” would be over:
When the accumulation of wealth is no longer of high social importance, there will be great changes in the code of morals. We shall be able to rid ourselves of many of the pseudo-moral principles which have hag-ridden us for two hundred years, by which we have exalted some of the most distasteful of human qualities into the position of the highest virtues. We shall be able to afford to dare to assess the money-motive at its true value. The love of money as a possession—as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life—will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.

The world has indeed got richer, but any such shift in morals and values is hard to detect. Money and the value system around its acquisition are fully intact. Greed is still good.

The study of hunter-gatherers, who live for the day and do not accumulate surpluses, shows that humanity can live more or less as Keynes suggests. It’s just that we’re choosing not to. A key to that lost or forsworn ability, Suzman suggests, lies in the ferocious egalitarianism of hunter-gatherers. For example, the most valuable thing a hunter can do is come back with meat. Unlike gathered plants, whose proceeds are “not subject to any strict conventions on sharing,” hunted meat is very carefully distributed according to protocol, and the people who eat the meat that is given to them go to great trouble to be rude about it. This ritual is called “insulting the meat,” and it is designed to make sure the hunter doesn’t get above himself and start thinking that he’s better than anyone else. “When a young man kills much meat,” a Bushman told the anthropologist Richard B. Lee, “he comes to think of himself as a chief or a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his servants or inferiors. . . . We can’t accept this.” The insults are designed to “cool his heart and make him gentle.” For these hunter-gatherers, Suzman writes, “the sum of individual self-interest and the jealousy that policed it was a fiercely egalitarian society where profitable exchange, hierarchy, and significant material inequality were not tolerated.”

This egalitarian impulse, Suzman suggests, is central to the hunter-gatherer’s ability to live a life that is, on its own terms, affluent, but without abundance, without excess, and without competitive acquisition. The secret ingredient seems to be the positive harnessing of the general human impulse to envy. As he says, “If this kind of egalitarianism is a precondition for us to embrace a post-labor world, then I suspect it may prove a very hard nut to crack.” There’s a lot that we could learn from the oldest extant branch of humanity, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to put the knowledge into effect. A socially positive use of envy—now, that would be a technology almost as useful as fire."
jamescscott  fire  technology  hunter-gatherers  2017  anthropology  johnlanchester  anthropocene  sedentism  agriculture  nomads  nomadism  archaeology  writing  legibility  illegibility  state  civilization  affluence  abundance  jamessuzman  bushmen  kalahari  namibia  khoisan  mesopotamia  egalitarianism  humans  self-interest  jealousy  greed  inequality  accumulation  motivation  society  happiness  money 
october 2017 by robertogreco
California Today: A Chronicler of the State, in His Own Words - The New York Times
"Here are just a few highlights from Mr. Starr’s prose and interviews:

On recurring natural disasters (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 31, 1993)
Southern California has used technology to materialize an imagined society of garden cities and suburbs. Now and then, it must pay a price for its reordering of the environment.

On diversity (San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 10, 2000):
Is there any people on the planet, any language, any religion not represented in California this very morning? ... This diversity, then, is the persistent DNA code of California.

On California’s rising Latino population (New York Times, March 31, 2001):
The Anglo hegemony was only an intermittent phase in California’s arc of identity, extending from the arrival of the Spanish.

On the Central Valley (“Coast of Dreams,” 2004):
Mesopotamia, the rice fields of China, the Po Valley: the Central Valley stood in a long line of irrigation cultures which had, in turn, given birth to civilization itself.

On California at the millennium (“California: A History,” 2005):
California had long since become one of the prisms through which the American people, for better and for worse, could glimpse their future.

On the drought (The New York Times, April 4, 2005):
Mother Nature didn’t intend for 40 million people to live here.

On the Golden Gate Bridge (“Golden Gate,” 2010):
Like the Parthenon, the Golden Gate Bridge seems Platonic in its perfection, as if the harmonies and resolutions of creation as understood by mathematics and abstract thought have been effortlessly materialized through engineering design.
kevinstarr  california  diversity  socal  demographics  technology  history  identity  2017  2010  2005  2004  2001  2000  1993  drought  environment  goldengatebridge  engineering  infrastructure  mesopotamia  irrigation  civilization  society  latinos  future 
january 2017 by robertogreco
Internet Ancient History Sourcebook: Main Page
"The Ancient and Modern Sourcebooks have a different role: since there are already ample online repositories of texts for these periods, the goal here is to provide and organize texts for use in classroom situations. Links to the larger online collections are provided for those who want to explore further. The distinctive feature of the Sourcebooks' layout remains here - the avoidance of images and multiple "clicking" to find texts."
archaeology  ancienthistory  research  reference  literature  rome  mesopotamia  primarysources  ancient  mythology  greek  education  culture  history  books  resources  religion  philosophy  greece  egypt  classics  worldhistory  tcsnmy  ancientcivilization  socialstudies  classresources 
november 2009 by robertogreco
BBC NEWS | Middle East | Iraq's damaged Babylon hopes for revival
"Beneath a patch of stony, desert ground on the River Euphrates, surrounded by date palms, many of the secrets of the cradle of civilisation are still waiting to be uncovered." more here:
archaeology  culture  art  history  tcsnmy  ancient  ancientcivilization  anthropology  mesopotamia  babylon  via:cburell 
november 2008 by robertogreco
Read This: The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India, and Islam
"Victor Katz has put together five experts: Annette Imhausen on Egypt, Eleanor Robson on Mesopotamia, Joe Dauben on China, Kim Plofker on India, and Len Berggren on Islam. These are all well-known historians, and several of them are writing or have writte
math  tcsnmy  classideas  ancients  mesopotamia  china  india  islam  eqyptians  history  books 
july 2008 by robertogreco

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