Posts Tagged Robert Darnton
On 5 December 2011, Professor Robert Darnton (Harvard University) presented his stimulating and thought-provoking paper on the future of books in our emergent digital culture, as part of Cardiff University’s Distinguished Lecture Series. Using the metaphor of Jefferson’s Taper for the exchange of ideas (the transfer of light from one candle to another – a process in which one person gained while the other did not lose), Professor Darnton outlined ways in which digitization initiatives can be co-ordinated in order to provide a truly universal library for the 21st century.
Click on the link to open the videocast in a new window: Robert Darton, Cardiff University Distinguished Lecture, 5 Dec 2011.
On 5 December 2011, Professor Robert Darnton (Harvard University) delivered Cardiff University’s Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities to a capacity audience. Taking Thomas Jefferson as his starting point, Professor Darnton traced the journey of the exchange of ideas, from Jefferson’s Taper to the commercialisation of the internet, arguing that although the internet seems to translate Jefferson’s ideal into a viable system of communication, commercial interests are exploiting digital technology in order to fence off large parts of our cultural commons. He cited the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America as an answer to that threat.
Before giving his talk, Professor Darnton was interviewed by Rhys Tranter, a PhD candidate at Cardiff University working on Samuel Becket and trauma in the post-war era. The following post offers a transcript of their conversation.
Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books (Cardiff University Distinguished Lecture)
Professor Robert Darnton, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor at Harvard and Director of the Harvard University Library
Monday 5 December 2011, 6–8pm
School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Cardiff University
Professor Robert Darnton is internationally recognised for his work and is a pioneer in the field of book history. He has written extensively on the information age and its effect on the printed word Is leading international debates on library issues, from preservation and access to publishing and technology.
Taking Thomas Jefferson as his starting point, Professor Darnton will trace the journey of the exchange of ideas, from Thomas Jefferson’s ideal of a shared culture to the commercialisation of the internet.
Jefferson compared the exchange of ideas to the transfer of light from one candle to another – a process in which one person gained while the other did not lose. Professor Darnton will argue that although the internet seems to translate Jefferson’s ideal into a viable system of communication, commercial interests are exploiting digital technology and fencing off large parts of our cultural commons. As a result, these commercial interests may dominate the future of books. He will cite the campaign to create a Digital Public Library of America as an answer to that threat: a resource that will make the cultural and scientific record available to all. This effort unites leaders from all types of libraries, museums, and archives with educators, industry, and government to define the vision for a digital library in service of the American public
Professor Darnton’s lecture is part of the University’s Distinguished Lecture Series, which brings eminent and influential guest speakers to the University and a wider audience to showcase their work. In the build up to this lecture, a series of events have taken place to celebrate the University’s Rare Books and Music Collection. As well as showcasing the world-leading multidisciplinary research in the University’s Humanities Schools these events have addressed the challenges and revolutions facing libraries in the digital age.
Jefferson’s Taper and the Future of Books takes place at the School of Optometry and Vision Sciences, Maindy Road and starts at 6.30pm. A reception will take place beforehand from 6.00pm.
To reserve a place at the lecture please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 029 2087 6935.
by Anthony Mandal
The Case for Books: Past, Present, and Future, first published last year in hardback and last month in paperback, is a retrospective collection of essays by Darnton written over the last thirty years, and published principally in the New York Review of Books, but also in other journals such as Daedalus and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Divided into three sections—Future, Present and Past—the collection of linked essays begins with an interrogative piece focused on the Google Books digitization initiative and its potential impact for scholars and readers worldwide in the rapidly changing world of new media. The book continues with essays that focus on the opportunities supplied through the emergent world of digital economies over the last fifteen years. The final section offers some interesting insights into the politics of textual conservation (and how they may have failed dismally in the post-war era), as well as the value of book history and bibliography in sounding the depths of textual uncertainty, effortlessly bringing Shakespeare, commonplace books and Voltaire into his ruminations. Read the rest of this entry »
Reading: Harvard Views of Readers, Readership, and Reading History is an online exploration of the intellectual, cultural, and political history of reading as reflected in the historical holdings of the Harvard Libraries. For Internet users worldwide, Reading provides unparalleled digital access to a significant selection of unique source materials:
- personally annotated books owned by John Keats, Herman Melville, Hester Lynch Piozzi, and others
- William Wordsworth’s private library catalog
- commonplace books used by Joseph Conrad, Washington Irving, Victor Hugo, and more
- records of the Harvard College Library that reveal the reading activities of Emerson, Longfellow, and Thoreau
- historical textbooks that document the principles, and some of the biases, in reading instruction from the 18th to the early 20th centuries
- more than 250,000 pages from 1,200 individual items from the Harvard collections, including 800 books and 400 manuscript selections
For researchers, teachers, and students who may not have ready access to extensive historical collections, Reading provides an inspired opportunity to participate more fully in this rapidly expanding research area.