The future is fast approaching

Caught up in an information culture.


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The minimalist, gleaming future of libraries?

In an age of privatisation and digitalization, when libraries have been fighting tooth and nail for their place as an essential piece of community infrastructure, there’s something of an identity problem.  The idea of a physical repository for communally-owned printed information storage has a few challenges in the post-internet era, and it’s not simply a branding problem but also a practical problem of how to provide a changing community service.  I was intrigued when The Atlantic’s Cities pushed out two articles showing very similar new library designs, across the country from each other, aimed at different populations – yet looking and functioning in a very similar fashion.

Hamilton Grange library.  Photo by Michael Moran and Rice+Lipka Architects

Hamilton Grange library. Photo by Michael Moran and Rice+Lipka Architects

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Blank on Blank: Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid (2013, PBS Digital)

Still from Blank on Blank's episode, "Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid".

Still from Blank on Blank‘s episode, “Maurice Sendak on Being a Kid”.

Maurice Sendak’s discussion of unhappy childhoods and how children survive terrible things is especially poignant combined with Blank on Blank‘s stark black and white animation.  As a creative documentary technique, it’s quite effective – perhaps especially for interview, where the subject’s words are unfiltered and uninterpreted in audio form, which leaves a lot of leeway for interpretation in the visuals.  (If this were used under a filmmaker’s narration, it might feel too created, rather than being this wonderful collaboration of art and fact.)

Blank on Blank is one of the series coming out of PBS Digital Studios:  “Vintage interview tapes. New animations. Our mission is simple: curate and transform journalists’ unheard interviews with American icons. The future of journalism is remixing the past.”  Aside from the value of preserving these small, often highly personal, pieces of interview that don’t fit into the print narrative, this is one of a rarely-discussed approach to remixing – the focus on remixing so often centers around the reuse of hits and successes, and the related intellectual property rights, that it’s rarely explored as a form of voluntary collaboration.  Every project, fiction and non-fiction, leaves little bits and pieces that just don’t fit into the finished work, many of them very good, and I suspect most writers and artists would rather see them used in other projects than never see the light of day.  Continue reading


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“…if there was one single lesson to be extracted from the process of cutting The English Patient, it was that I overshoot.  Walter [Murch] gave me a stopwatch after that film, which I could use to time the script of The Talented Mr. Ripley, and clearly I can’t use the stopwatch either, because that film was also wildly overshot.  More thrillingly, it was also the case with Cold Mountain, although the length of the screenplay has crept down from project to project.  It has taught me many things, not least that it’s hard to fight your own sensibility.  But I’ve also learnt that there’s some elaboration that I add to the screenplay when I’m shooting, despite not being conscious of doing anything other than collecting what I’d written down.  I often feel I’m shooting very starkly and I worry that there isn’t enough there.”

–Anthony Minghella, interview from Minghella on Minghella by Timothy Bricknell (emphasis mine)