Banned Books and Censorship: Big Read Event at Webster Public Library

Tonight: Wednesday, May 21 at 7 p.m.

Webster Public Library
980 Ridge Road West
Webster, NY 14580

This evening of lively discussion features three wonderful speakers on the topic of banned books and censorship. This program will be an intriguing look at thought control appropriate for adults and teens.

Red Star: Science Fiction Under Soviet Dictatorship
Censorship usually means destroying books and their writers. But presenting ideologically correct views is as much a part of dictatorial societies as suppressing dissident ones.
David Pascal discusses how Soviet Science Fiction was used to foster and advance the views of one totalitarian state, how some Soviet authors used the form to question and transcend state policies, and why writing produced under Soviet rule has continuing relevance for writers and readers today.

Burning Books and Bodies in the Middle Ages: Peter Abelard and Johannes Trithemius
Sarah Higley is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Rochester, New York. Her primary interests lie in northern medieval literatures with an early emphasis on language, linguistics, and poetic structure. Her later work in fantasy and science fiction led her to explore medieval and modern notions of magic, machinery, monstrosity, and artifice. Her recent publications investigate the early origins of the werewolf, the medieval concept of the “robot,” and manifestations throughout time of “simulacra”– lately, miniatures and constructed languages. This last interest has inspired her book on Hildegard of Bingen’s “Lingua Ignota” (Unknown Language). She is also a published author of fantasy and science fiction and a Teleplay for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and a member of the writing group: “Rochester Speculative Literature.”

Censorship in Communist Romania: An Uncensored View
Gabriel Prajitura will give an insider’s view on the suppression of literature in communist Romania. Dr. Prajitura will bring along a book that was edited by communist censors. He will give a first-hand account of what happens when a work is deemed “unacceptable” by the government, as well as the repercussions of thinking independantly in a land where thought is governed by the Party.

Set Your Mind on Fire! The Big Read Goes Virtual

The Big Read comes to Cybrary City II on Wednesday, May 14 at 5:00 pm (SLT). Join us as Rebekah Cavan leads a lively discussion of Fahrenheit 451, censorship and the value of books at The Monroe County Library System Amphitheater in Second Life.

The discussion starts at 5:00 pm SLT, but get there early to save your favorite books from the bonfire before it’s too late!


Psychological Upswing of Virtual Worlds

This article from Wired goes back a few months – it’s from January. But it’s still relevant.

Anyone involved with Second Life is likely to know that NASA has made a large commitment to virtual worlds and their potential for reinvigorating public interest in the space program. I’ve attended and blogged on some of NASA’s mixed reality events. It’s a fantastic medium for open discussion.

What’s particularly heartening about the Wired article is the fact that NASA sees the huge potential of connecting lonely astronauts with their loved ones through virtual worlds. If you’ve been in-world, you know how real it feels to have a conversation with another avatar, compared to sending an email or even using the phone. It feels like you’re really in the same space, in real time, sharing a moment with another person. For long-distance relationships, this really is the next best thing to being there.

bnet: Present like Steve Jobs

I’ve signed up for email newsletters from bnet. The information provided is concise and highly useful. This video, in particular, is worth sharing with anyone who has to give a presentation. Whether your presentation is a one-time thing or if speaking is what you do for a living, there are tips here that will help you do a better job, and ultimately reduce that anxiety so many of us feel when we give a lecture. All in a seven minute video.

After the video, check out bnet’s crash course on presenting like Steve Jobs. Cost? $0. You can’t beat that!

Roll Your Own Multi-touch Display

Were you totally wowed by Microsoft’s Surface? Trying to figure out how to come up with $10K so you can have one for yourself? Save some cash and build your own instead! Technology Review has an article on Eyebeam engineers who created an open source version, and there’s a nice exploded-view image of it at Gizmodo. At a mere 500 bucks for parts and some hands-on building time, who wouldn’t put this multi-touch table on their wish list?

And just as a reminder: Microsoft didn’t invent this technology. Here’s a fantastic video of Jeff Han showing his multi-touch display for Perceptive Pixel, and another from Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab.

Cool stuff. : )

Library Terms that Users Understand

It’s been a while since I’ve written about web design, but this came across my radar screen this morning and I found it to be very bookmark-worthy:

We tend to forget that terms like “catalog” or “database” can be confusing to users. John Kupersmith’s site is a much needed reminder that we have to think like a patron and limit the use of library terminology.