Monthly Archives: November 2008

You really want to read this

Bruce Sterling is always provocative, an interesting writer-thinker-talker. His Viridian Ave atque vale, The Last Viridian Note, will not disappoint you. Seven pages or so, lots of cunningly-worded and highly relevant bits of observation, analysis and advice. Here’s a sample:

You will need to divide your current possessions into four major categories.

  1. Beautiful things.
  2. Emotionally important things.
  3. Tools, devices, and appliances that efficiently perform a useful function.
  4. Everything else.

“Everything else” will be by far the largest category. Anything you have not touched, or seen, or thought about in a year — this very likely belongs in “everything else.”

You should document these things. Take their pictures, their identifying makers’ marks, barcodes, whatever, so that you can get them off eBay or Amazon if, for some weird reason, you ever need them again. Store those digital pictures somewhere safe — along with all your other increasingly valuable, life-central digital data. Back them up both onsite and offsite.

Then remove them from your time and space. “Everything else” should not be in your immediate environment, sucking up your energy and reducing your opportunities. It should become a fond memory, or become reduced to data.

It may belong *to* you, but it does not belong *with* you. You weren’t born with it. You won’t be buried with it. It needs to be out of the space-time vicinity. You are not its archivist or quartermaster. Stop serving that unpaid role.

Now, mind you, I can’t actually follow this advice myself, but I know GOOD advice when I see it, and it’s worth thinking about.

(via Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing –he quotes different bits, equally trenchant)

Hamilton de Holanda e Yamandu Costa

Forever on the lookout for virtuoso string players, I’ve just discovered Yamandú Costa (via the fantastic Mika Kaurismäki film The Sound of Rio: Brasileirinho), and here he is with the equally awesome Hamilton de Holanda, doing an Astor Piazzolla composition, “Adios Nonino” (after a minute of intro in Portuguese):

links for 2008-11-17

  • Revere quotes John Kenneth Galbraith at some length, on the "no-business meeting… scholars, who are great devotees of the no-business meeting, rely heavily on the exchange-of-ideas justification. To them the exchange of ideas is an absolute good. Any meeting at which ideas are exchanged is, therefore, useful. This justification is nearly ironclad. It is very hard to have a meeting of which it can be said that no ideas were exchanged."
  • sez Programmable Web: "Online community whose aim is to show in pictures how the world has changed through time. In essence it is an archive of old photographs and pictures tagged by time and location on a Google Map"

Barratt’s Privateers

This reminds me of the ambiance of Nova Scotia 25 and more years ago –not that our kitchen had such stellar performers, but the idea of home-made music was more alive then than it seems to be now:

I’ve been working in the barn today, reorganizing shelves of books (the Library Annex, where books go when they just won’t fit on the shelves in the house) and sorting piles of papers from boxes that have been waiting too long for me to deal with their contents. The latter activity is one of uncovering trails of interest and attention from the last few years (mostly in the form of material from the Web, printed to be read and thought about) and then deciding how to integrate the stuff worth saving into the established categories of my filing system. It’s an adventure in idiosyncratic tagging, and an opportunity to explore how my interests morph and slither, leap and branch. Many documents reflect paths considered but not taken (there are a lot of software dead ends), and quite a few represent the continuations of threads I’ve been following for 20 30 40 years. I don’t seem to be any closer to an understanding of why I keep stuff, still less to any Plan for what to DO with 24 file drawers crammed with enigmatically labelled file folders. Some can be purged, but I’m surprised to find how difficult it is to let go. I’m not going to write a History of my 40+ years of involvement with computers, or reimmerse myself in the prospects of the Digital Library, or evangelize about GIS, or teach courses in world music, demography, East Asian peoples and cultures, ecology… but I can’t bring myself to recycle the mouldering paper in those drawers.