mucking about

Yet another “…been awhile…” sort of post.

Currently at the National Library of Australia for THATCamp, which I’m hoping is a a way for me to reconnect with my techier side. I was last here for THATCamp in 2011 when I was getting into digital assets management. Having moved into eresource management, I haven’t had much of a chance to play at what I call the “command line” level.

I installed xampp on my laptop several months ago but haven’t had much of a chance to do anything beyond some simple html. This morning I participated in a session on dealing with bulk downloads from Trove’s newspaper archives and I spent most of it learning my way round my web server and dealing ultimately, with stuff that was mostly just pathname issues: working out where to store files, and where to reference them. Happily I got most of the way along and got an OAI harvester up and running. Still got a few errors to nut out but feel like I’ve made progress and starting to make use of the tools I have available.

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fun with botero

Having discussed my interest in images in a book by Botero, I went ahead and ordered a copy online. It arrived last week. It’s a facsimile that is printed on demand. It’s a chunky tome, hardcover and well bound…well worth the $64 I paid for it. Unfortunately it doesn’t include any of the images. None whatsoever. Initially I thought there was a mixup with the book title and I ordered the wrong one.

It turns out that the version with the fantastical images was published in 1618, after Botero’s death whereas I’d bought the 1596 facsimile. However the woodcuts for the images would have been prepared during the 16th century, possibly for another work. The images were included in an “aggiunta” or appendix, that was attached to the fourth part. There were a total of 32 woodcuts included in the additional section. I found out most of the information via the notes for an edition that Horden House is selling…though I’m less keen to spend $32k on that copy.

Luckily I don’t have to, as I have at least found scanned versions of the Aggiunta online and available for download. I haven’t found a print-on-demand version though will investigate whether I can print this version. It turns out that the images themselves aren’t by Botero, but by Hans Burgkmair, a German woodcut printmaker of the 16th century. There was a book published in 1960 that included the Botero images with an introduction my Walter Oakeshott. However only 50 of those were produced and I haven’t found one for sale.

There is another work that features images by Burgkmair, “Triumph of Maxmilian I: 137 Woodcuts by Hans Burgkmair and Others“, and several copies of the 1965 work are available via abebooks. While I doubt very much that any are of the Botero images, reading a comment elsewhere, I get the impression that Burgkmair’s work is worth exploring further and so look forward to the arrival of yet another book.

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shelf by shelf 17 – tales of war

Growing up I loved war stories and escapism generally…unsurprising given all the Biggles’ books I have. One of my favourite movies growing up was “The Great Escape” which was based on a book by Paul Brickhill. I have it, as well the biography of Jerry Sage, simply titled “Sage”. Steve McQueen’s character in the movie, Hilts, took some inspiration from Sage, though wikipedia suggests another pilot and doesn’t refer to Sage at all. I found Sage’s book an engrossing read and Sage himself a fascinating character.

My other favourite destination for stories about WWII is P.R. Reid’s The Colditz Story and its sequel, The Latter Days at Colditz. The Great Escape was set in a camp, however Colditz was a castle. I don’t recall if I watched the TV series first or read the books. I recall finding the first book in a box at my grandmother’s place. I think it was actually one of dad’s old books but I’m not entirely sure these days.

Nestled away at the far end of the shelf are the books by Ivan Southall, particularly several in his “Simon Black” series. I think Southall was one of my favourite Australian writers growing up, along with Patricia Wrightson. I don’t think I ever read anything by Colin Thiele, though I did see the film of “Storm Boy” as a child. At the right end of the shelf are the all the Star Trek books I owned. I enjoyed the novelisations of several of movies as well as a few others. I’m a bit old school and really only watched the original series. I tried to get into Nextgen when it started and gave up after 2-3 seasons. Friends assure me it got better with 4th season. I’ve also loved the recent movies that have rebooted the show.

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end of june

Here we are, the end of June and thankfully not quite the end of days. I just did a quick tally of my performance over the years for #blogjune:

  • 2010 – 34 posts
  • 2011 – 24 posts
  • 2012 – 23 posts
  • 2013 – 4 posts!
  • 2014 – 29 including this one

Hmmm…I think I’ll try and squeeze out another shelf by shelf tonight to make the 30. The first #blogjune, in 2010, was pretty special but they’ve all been fun, and last year was just the wrong sort of year for me.

It’s nice to go back and read my summary post from 2010 and realise so much of what I said still applies today…but different. In those days, folk tended to comment directly on posts whereas these days, there’s a mix of routes. Some will like a post, some will comment on the post, some will engage via twitter or facebook.

I haven’t been as engaged myself in commenting on other people’s stuff though. I wonder if that reflects that outside of June, I am blogging little and barely reading blogs. In 2010, I voraciously read everything, and had done so for years. The last few years I seem to read a lot less; the last year or so I have been somewhat absent while dealing with life stuff. I’ve gone through a period of massive change regarding how I deal with online spaces. I no longer spend all my evenings at the computer at home; I have other people in my life now, and do other things.

I have discovered that there are activities beyond the screen…I even play board games. Often! I’ll blog another day on that one. Speaking of which, I managed to start #blogjune with something of a blogging plan in evernote, to which I added ideas as I thought of them. A bunch of those ideas are as yet unwritten. Hopefully I can continue to blog, though in not quite so hectic fashion. My experience from previous years informs me that I shouldn’t be too optimistic about future blogging practices.

The shelf by shelf posts will continue as they’ve been good for me, and a way of developing a visual record of what I have. It’s been fun revisiting shelves and remembering things; recording old anecdotes on connections and histories and memories. I don’t live in that space as much as I used to and I miss my books the most.

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shelf by shelf 16 – philosophy

So much read, so much forgotten. In addition to “History & Philosophy of Science” (HPS) and “Computer Science”, I also majored in Philosophy. Clearly, I was very much the professional student. While I enjoyed arguing and discussing ideas and working them through, ultimately I ended up being dissatisfied with philosophy itself. That became truer the more studied HPS (or History & Philosophy of Science) as I came to see Philosophy being about ideas and less about the framework in which ideas were being discussed. A chunk of HPS was about situating philosophy, or natural philosophy, within broader societal developments. Philosophy made more sense to me when I could situate it within the politics and history in which particular ideas were expressed ie not dealing with ideas in isolation.

As part of HPS, I read quite a bit of Foucault, and recall liking him quite a bit. Some books on these shelves, and also the history shelves, are actually books I inherited from my father. I’ve never read Hegel and dad seemed to have only vols 2 and 3. Terry Eagleton however was an old favourite that I happily inherited from dad. Eagleton is an old marxist academic and the only thing of his I’ve read is his novel, Saints and Sinners about a fictional meeting between Ludwig Wittgenstein, Nikolai Bakhtin, James Connolly and Leopold Bloom.

I recall reading a bit of it at dad’s place and asked him if I could borrow it. Turns out he’d borrowed it from someone else and had to ask them first if he could loan it to me. Which he did, and I read it, loved it, and returned it. When dad died, the book was still in his collection and it remains unclear whether he had bought his own copy or had never got round to returning his friend’s copy.

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shelf by shelf 15 – a little mad

Here we delve a little deeper into my bookish obsessions. A little bit of odd, some book history, and of course honourable mentions to library history and the OED. It’s not sufficient to want a copy of the printed OED but I have also been fascinated by books about it and the history of the english language. Not to mention books about language, both real and fictional.

There sits my copy of Boswell’s biography of Samuel Johnson. Johnson was the editor of A Dictionary of the English Language, a facsimile I have sitting on a shelf elsewhere. Then there’s histories of reading, histories of libraries, and histories of bookish folk. And Walt Crawford. I like Walt and his continuing efforts to track, understand and write about libraries and matters pertinent to such. Here resides two volumes of his self-published survey of library bloggers.

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shelf by shelf 14 – paradigm shift

And with that, we return to History…and a return to Kuhn and his paradigms of revolution. Kuhn was pivotal in changing how the history of science was viewed and introduced the idea of paradigm shifts for explaining movements in scientific thought. I have a vague recollection that someone published a paper noting that Kuhn managed to use the word “paradigm” in 27 different ways. I remain ever amused that as far as my shelves are concerned Kuhn sits under Feyerabend and his more anarchic approach. Here also sits Koestler and his mighty tome “The Sleepwalkers” on the history of astronomy, another book I photocopied chunks out of.

I miss this stuff. At one stage I was on track for honours and further postgrad studies in the historiography of science, and have long had a fascination with the roles of science and technology and how it is contextualised within society. What is accepted and what isn’t and more importantly why particular views or directions are accepted. It’s not necessarily about the right or wrong path, or adherence to a rigid enforcement of scientific method; it’s also about social mores and politics and personalities.

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