142 / 6.16

Moe na 2 dagen Brussel. 11.00 – 18.00. Vakantiedag. De weersvoorspellingen zijn helemaal niet slecht: tot 25 graden en kans op een bui in de middag als er stapelwolken ontstaan. De weersvoorspellingen kloppen: voorbij Luik hangen er wat buien in het Maasdal en ik krijg er 2 op mn kop. Verder soms bewolkt, vaak zonnig en vrij warm. Plan: een rondje om Luik. De route pakt niet helemaal goed uit. Het eerste deel rij ik met opzet helemaal door het Maasdal — en volg daarbij een uitgepijlde route (witte lijn met stip). In jupille sla ik toch af naar Fleron. In Luik (eigenlijk tussen Chenee en Angleur) moet ik nogal zoeken naar de weg naar Sart Tilman, ik vind uiteindelijk de leuke kasseienklim (Rue de Vallon), maar bovenop rij ik verkeerd en kom daarna en rond Boncelles almaar op of bij de vierbaansweg terecht). Uiteindelijk afdalen door Seraing en weer het dal door (best leuk). Dan nog een aardig klimmetje meepikken, foto’s maken en via Awirs terug. Tussen Engins en Chateau de Lexhy rij ik op (=omhoog) met een wielrenforens. Rudimentair gesprek in t Frans. In Kanne besluit ik tot een extra rondje (Zusserdel – Muizenberg) om mn teller boven de 5500 uit te laten komen.

Kanne – kanaal – Vise – Hermalle ss Argenteau – Cheratte – Wandre – Jupille – Fleron – Vaux ss Chevremont – Chenee – Luik – Angleur – Sart Tilman – Boncelles – Seraing – Ivoz – Clermont ss Huy – Aux Fontaine- Aux Houx – Hermalle ss Huy – Engins – Awirs – Chateau Lexhy – Fexhe – Fooz – Villers L’ Eveque – Xhendremael – Juprelle – Villers St. Simeon – Houtain St. Simeon – Bassenge – Wonck – Eben – Zusserdel – Vroenhoven – Kanne

cycling,nl | August 17, 2006 | 12:13 | comments (1) |

65 (72) / 2.45

Zaterdag — mooi weer, frisjes, soms zon, twee heel lichte buien, lekker fietsweer. 15.00 – 18.00, F. ophalen op het station van Maastricht & tijdens het fietstochtje foto’s gemaakt. Kanne – Eben – Wonck – Bassenge – Glons – Paifve – Wihogne – Xhendremael – Alleur – Lantin – Villers St. Simeon – Fexhe – Slins – Houtain St. Simeon – Heure l’Romain – Haccourt – kanaal – Petit Lanaye – Pietersberg – Maastricht – station – Kanne

cycling,nl | August 17, 2006 | 12:08 | Comments Off on 65 (72) / 2.45 |

Acting out technology

I’ll be here the next two days: http://www.actingouttechnology.be.

en,free publicity,Uncategorized | August 13, 2006 | 17:59 | Comments Off on Acting out technology |

Latour on texts and writing

“As soon as actors are treated not as intermediaries but as mediators, they render the movement of the social visible to the reader. Thus through many textual inventions, the social may become again a circulating entity that is no longer composed of the stale assemblage of what passed earlier as being part of society.” (p. 128)

“A text, in our definition of social science, is thus a test on how many actors the writer is able to treat as mediators and how far he or she is able to achieve the social.” (p. 129)

— One could almost read this as the definition of a good novel. (Of the Richard Powers-kind — Latour being as much influenced by Powers as Powers is by Latour’s view of science, technology and society. One can also still ‘feel’ the Greimas-influence here (his actant-theory, stories as transformations &c.).)

“A good text elicits networks of actors when it allows the writer to trace a set of relations defined as so many translations.” (p. 129)

“In a bad text only a handful of actors will be designated as the causes of all the others, which will have no other function than to serve as a backdrop or relay for the flows of causal efficacy. (…) Nothing is translated from one to the other since action is simply carried through them.” (p. 130).

— Because this reads like the definition of a bad novel.

Latour stresses that writing texts is an ‘art’ (although he doesn’t use the word art here):

“The simple act of recording anything on paper is already an immense transformation that requires as much skill and just as much artifice as painting a landscape or setting up some elaborate biochemical reaction.”

And, interestingly, he wants descriptions, not explanations: “If a description remains in need of an explanation, it means that it is a bad description.” (p. 137) A good description is an explanation. I’d like to agree.

Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social, Oxford UP, Oxford, 2005.

en,quotations,research,ubiscribe,writing | August 11, 2006 | 14:49 | Comments Off on Latour on texts and writing |

Latour on notebooks

In Reassembling the Social Latour, after having stated that ‘tracing social connections’ in effect means ‘writing down accounts’ (p. 122), and after having said that “good sociology has to be well written; if not the social doesn’t appear through it” (p. 124), tells us that as good sociologists, researchers, scientists, we should keep four different notebooks — manual or digital:

1. “a log of the enquiry itself (…) to document the transformation one undergoes by doing the travel.” (p. 134)

2. one for “gathering information”, both structured chronological as well as dispatched into categories, that can be refined.

3. one for “ad libitum writing”, to record haphazardly the ideas that occur while studying and researching.

4. one “kept to register the effect of the written account on the actors whose world has been either deployed or unified.” (p. 135)

I’m a worthless researcher…

Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social, Oxford UP, Oxford, 2005.

en,quotations,research,ubiscribe,writing | August 11, 2006 | 14:43 | Comments Off on Latour on notebooks |

Reading Strategies for Coping With Information Overload

[Another digest of an article in quotes — here with many good quotes in the quotes…]

“Since the multitude of books, the shortness of time and the slipperiness of memory do not allow all things which are written to be equally retained in the mind, I decided to reduce in one volume in a compendium and in summary order some flowers selected according to my talents from all the authors I was able to read.” [Vincent of Beauvais in the preface to his four-volume Speculum maius (1255)] p. 11

“The premise of this study is that the experience of overabundance not only fostered the diffusion and development of various aids to learning or “reference genres” but also affected the way scholars worked, from reading and taking notes to composing books of their own.” p. 12

“By the eighteenth century we have a well-studied case in point with Samuel Johnson who, in addition to reporting that he “read like a Turk by tearing the heart out of a book,” when lying sleepless in bed, also used distinct terms to refer to at least four different ways of reading: “hard study” (which included taking notes), “perusal” (punctual consultation), “curious reading” (engrossed in a novel) and “mere reading” (browsing, as in journals).” p. 12

“[O]ne finds similar and quite explicit distinctions made by Francis Bacon in his Essay “Of Studies” (1612): ‘Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.'” p. 13/14

“Like that other Jesuit, Antonio Possevino, who recommended a select (and aggressively purged) rather than a universal library, Sacchini emphasized choosing and reading carefully a core of “good” books—by which he meant books that would further piety and the ancient classics which were to be read with great care. ‘I urge that when a young man finds himself with some free time, he conscientiously devote himself not to reading new books but rather to re-reading and going over attentively those books which he knows already from the guidance of his teacher…. It is much better in the beginning to learn a few things well, than to taste many things…. Therefore if you set out to read a book, order requires that you read it from beginning to end: in this way you will understand more easily and retain much better the whole subject of the book.'” p. 15

“One of the main functions of marginal annotations made in early modern books was to flag the topics treated in the text, to be able to find one’s way back to a particular passage. The most interesting topics might then be gathered by page number in the fly-leaf.” p. 17/18

[Hmm, compare tagging].

“[T]he Jesuit Jeremias Drexel explained: ‘Reading is useless, vain and silly when no writing is involved, unless you are reading [devotionally] Thomas a Kempis or some such. Although I would not want even that kind of reading to be devoid of all note-taking.'” p. 19

Then Blair goes on to give examples of the note-taking methods of scholars like Sacchini, Drexel, Placcius (with his ‘scrinium literatum’), Gesner, Cardano and others. Till she hits on the 20th century practice of copy&paste — using scissors, glue & index cards:

“Indeed one Renaissance scholar has told me that he was advised as a graduate student to purchase a cheap edition of his main source in order to cut out quotations and paste them onto index cards from which to compose his dissertation.” p. 28

Ann Blair, ‘Reading Strategies for Coping With Information Overload ca. 1550-1700’, in Journal of the History of Ideas 64.1 (2003) p. 11-28

Also: http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/journal_of_ the_history_of_ideas/v064/64.1blair.htm.

en,quotations,research,ubiscribe | August 10, 2006 | 17:49 | Comments Off on Reading Strategies for Coping With Information Overload |

… the bee as a clever borrower and collector

“In the writings of Erasmus and others who cultivated this practice [of keeping a commonplace book], the image of the bee as a clever borrower and collector had positive connotations.”

“In his De Copia (1512) Erasmus wrote: ‘The student, diligent as a little bee, will flit about through all the gardens of authors and will attack all the little flowerlets from whence he collects some honey which he carries into his own hive; and, since there is so much fertility of material in these that they are not all able to be plucked off, he will select the most excellent and adapt it to the structure of his own work.'” p. 66

Richard Yeo, ‘ A Solution to the Multitude of Books: Ephraim Chambers’s Cyclopaedia (1728) as “the Best Book in the Universe”‘, in Journal of the History of Ideas 64.1 (2003) p. 61-72

en,quotations,research,ubiscribe | August 10, 2006 | 17:29 | Comments Off on … the bee as a clever borrower and collector |

Early Modern Information Overload

“[Ann Blair] argues that historians have paid disproportionate attention to what she calls “literary reading” and not enough to other modes of encountering and engaging textual materials ranging from browsing and skimming to buying and collecting to annotating, cutting and pasting, and dog-earing. For Blair these other modes of acting upon texts are important in all historical moments, but in situations where readers feel themselves overwhelmed by information, they become all that much more crucial and telling.” p. 1

“According to her [Ann Blair] argument, an explosion of book production during the early modern period led to the development of a broad discourse on modes of textual practice. In some instances the problem of “information overload” led to a new emphasis on readerly “diligence” as in the cases of the theologians Francesco Sacchini and Johann Heinrich Alsted. In other instances, the same problem led to new theories and practices of consultative and instrumental reading such as those of Francis Bacon or Samuel Johnson.” p. 1/2

“In a world of rapid change, quick access to knowledge becomes as important as knowledge itself. During the early modern period, the encyclopedia survived by adaptation. If the Medieval encyclopedia aimed to reflect the universe itself, more and more, the early modern encyclopedia aimed to reflect the possibilities of knowing a changing universe of representation.” p. 4

“… during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries factors such as an increasing production and dissemination of books, developing networks of scientific communication, discoveries and innovations in the sciences, and new economic relationships all conspired to produce such quantities of new information that a substantial reorganization of the intellectual world was required. (…) by the end of the seventeenth century, it was widely understood that “representing and ordering the world” would be “impossible unless the representations themselves were put in order.”” p. 6

From Daniel Rosenberg, ‘Early Modern Information Overload’, in Journal of the History of Ideas 64.1 (2003) p. 1-9

en,quotations,research,ubiscribe | August 10, 2006 | 16:56 | Comments Off on Early Modern Information Overload |

Street signs for cycling

The area around Kanne — where I live this year — is cycling country. Every day groups of cyclist pass by my apartment. Almost every week there’s a ‘toertocht’ (organized cycling tour) in the area, starting from Oupeye, Bilzen, Tongeren, Vlijtingen etc. In Belgium these rides are — apparently — marked out by spraying signs on the road. Especially at the few places where one can cross the Maas (Meuse) and the Albertkanaal, the road is full of these signs, some old, some new. Riding around the area one comes across the signs everywhere and often I follow the signs for some kilometers.

I’d like to make a full catalogue of all the different signs. I’m a worthless photographer, luckily this is a fairly easy subject. I’m uploading the pictures at my hardly used Flickr-account: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ariealt/.

cycling,en,Uncategorized | August 10, 2006 | 14:59 | Comments Off on Street signs for cycling |

35 / 1.25

Klein ochtendrondje, “om het zuur uit de benen te rijden”. 10.00 – 11.30. Bewolkt, kans op buien, vrij koud. Kanne – Lanaye – Lixhe – Moelingen – Vise – Mons – Bombaye – Dalhem – Vise – kanaal – Kanne

cycling,nl | August 10, 2006 | 14:11 | Comments Off on 35 / 1.25 |
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