I’ve been home from ALA for two weeks now, doing my utmost to savor the moments of insight I experienced at ALA. A 15 hour journey from Anaheim to NYC plus re-emersion into life as usual have obvious consequences, however, and it’s tough to carry the conference mood into daily life.
While I’d planned to avoiding commenting on ARCgate – a recent uproar regarding abuses of advanced reader copies of books at ALA / some finger wagging over conference decorum – I do have to iterate that the books I brought home with me have allowed sustained interest in topics highlighted in Anaheim. I think this is the intention of ARCs in the first place, but making this point on a broader scale is outrageously goody-two-shoed. The reality is that I made myself a “no swag” promise, not knowing about the ARC phenomena in the first place, thus finding myself in the odd position of having behaved ethically in regard to acquiring ARCs and published monographs, yet feeling oddly guilty for bringing extra items home with me – in spite of the fact that they are central to the mission of my education. Don’t worry: I’m shaking my head at myself on your behalf.
I’m in the middle of reading Weinberger’s Too Big To Know, but have become thoroughly distracted by In the Garden Of Beasts by Erik Larson, which I purchased at Hudson Books JFK prior to my departure. While reading, I’ve been thinking a lot about a class I took in my undergraduate studies called Representations of the Holocaust – a three week, three credit summer term class I put toward my social science credits. Given that several years have passed since then, I’m tremendously ill-equipped to answer the question that I had programmed into my mind that summer: how can we justifiably discuss the unthinkable events that took place in Germany in the 30s and 40s, events that Walter Benjamin famously wrote represent the end of civilization? How can Larson’s book be treated within this framework? If only I could find my notes I might be better able to formulate a few thoughts on this, but it’s interesting to try to think about anyway. Dissertation level stuff.
In due course I shall return to my ALA summer reading list, which also includes Rebecca MacKinnon’s Consent of the Networked and The Accidental Taxonomist by Heather Hedden, as well as my general LIS studies reading list, which includes The Information by James Glieck and Information Rules by Hal Varian. Non-fiction, practical reading all. If only Simon and Schuster had had copies of John Irving’s In One Person on hand…