Category Archives: Books

I For One Welcome My New Infrared Faucet Overlord

Interesting post and discussion at 11d on Sandra Tsing Loh’s latest essay in the Atlantic Monthly, which I read on the train this week. I thought the essay was terrible for a variety of reasons, many of them stylistic. There’s … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Books, Consumerism, Advertising, Commodities, Domestic Life, Miscellany | 12 Comments

Digital Search I: Google Poisons the Well

I am apparently not the only person who feels a bit bait-and-switched by the state of Google’s digitization projects after the settlement. So much so that Sergey Brin himself has sallied forth to defend the current terms in the New … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Books, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Intellectual Property | 6 Comments

Nobody Expects the Black Swans?

I liked The Black Swan better than John Holbo and much of the Crooked Timber commentariat. But I completely agree with a lot of the criticisms. The book itself is not a good read because Taleb gets so caught up … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Miscellany, Production of History | 4 Comments

Journalism, Civil Society and 21st Century Reportage

As the failure of many newspapers looms and public radio cuts its journalistic offerings, the complaint against new media by established journalists gets sharper and sharper. The key rallying cry is that new media can’t provide investigative reporting, that it … Continue reading

Posted in Blogging, Books, Information Technology and Information Literacy, Miscellany | 18 Comments

Book Notes: Tom Vanderbilt, Traffic

Before I launch into my more complicated reactions to some of the material in the book, I should be clear: this is a really good book (and Vanderbilt has a nice blog to go along with it). If you get … Continue reading

Posted in Books | 4 Comments

Book Notes: Alexandra Fuller, The Legend of Colton H. Bryant

My students know that I really like the work of Alexandra Fuller about her childhood and later experiences in southern Africa. I appreciate her aggressively unsentimental vision. She doesn’t tell the usual story of rising to self-awareness, rejecting her society, … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Books, Politics | 1 Comment

A Sale of Two Doorstops

Recently, mindful of a long flight home, I went looking to the local bookstore to see if there was anything new that I hadn’t read. I looked at some fantasy titles, but most of them had the kind of blurbs … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Popular Culture | 8 Comments

The Problem With ‘Social Construction’

I’ve just been chatting in email with a friend who asked me to boil down my critique of the concept of social construction as it has appeared in history, cultural criticism, anthropology and so on over the last 25 years … Continue reading

Posted in Academia, Books, Production of History | 9 Comments

Gaze Into the Crystal Ball

Everyone is prognosticating right now. I’m not immune. In those moments where genuine uncertainty enters the room in an undeniable way, we all desperately want to know what is happening, and what will happen next. One of my private pleasures … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Politics | 16 Comments

It’s a-Flat Like Your Head

When I first taught my course The Production of History at Swarthmore, I wanted to show the Bugs Bunny cartoon “Hare We Go”, in which Bugs Bunny helps and then antagonizes Christopher Columbus on his first voyage. I was thinking … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Popular Culture, Production of History, Swarthmore | 11 Comments