Monday, April 09, 2012

MediaWeek (V5, N15): NYPublic remodels, Creative Thought, Gunter Grass, Pew eReader Study + More

The New York Public library is undergoing a renovation of sorts and will be moving a large segment of its' print collection to off-site storage.  Many large academic libraries (in particular) have or are under-going similar realignments among them the British Museum, Stanford, NYU and Ohio State.  Naturally, there are some who just don't like the idea (Guardian):
The removal of the books – some to a site underground in adjacent Bryant Park, the rest to a facility in suburban New Jersey that the NYPL shares with Princeton and Columbia universities – is part of a gargantuan $300m reorganisation aimed at lugging the central library into the 21st century.
Eight storeys of Carnegie steel stacks will be ripped from the central library building's interior to make room for a new public space designed by star architect Norman Foster, whose firm designed London's city hall and the reichstag in Berlin. The library has said that the books in the stacks are showing signs of environmental wear and will be better preserved elsewhere.
The sleek new interior space – two city blocks long, eight storeys high and a quarter of a block wide – will come equipped with banks of new computers and, for the first time in two generations, a lending library. It will give a dramatically more modern look and feel for the system's central branch.
"We are aiming to create the greatest library facility in the world," Anthony Marx, the library's CEO and president, told the Guardian. "And we are as committed as the scholarly community to ensure that it continues to be a great research facility."
Interesting article on the creative thought process (Guardian):
Every creative journey begins with a problem. It starts with a feeling of frustration, the dull ache of not being able to find the answer. When we tell one another stories about creativity, we tend to leave out this phase of the creative process. We neglect to mention those days when we wanted to quit, when we believed that our problems were impossible to solve. Instead, we skip straight to the breakthroughs. The danger of telling this narrative is that the feeling of frustration – the act of being stumped – is an essential part of the creative process. Before we can find the answer – before we probably even know the question – we must be immersed in disappointment, convinced that a solution is beyond our reach. It's often only at this point, after we've stopped searching for the answer, that the answer arrives. All of a sudden, the answer to the problem that seemed so daunting becomes incredibly obvious.
This is the clichéd moment of insight that people know so well from stories of Archimedes in the bathtub and Isaac Newton under the apple tree. When people think about creative breakthroughs, they tend to imagine them as incandescent flashes, like a light bulb going on inside the brain.
These tales of insight all share a few essential features that scientists use to define the "insight experience". The first stage is the impasse. If we're lucky, however, that hopelessness eventually gives way to a revelation. This is another essential feature of moments of insight: the feeling of certainty that accompanies the new idea. After Archimedes had his eureka moment – he realised that the displacement of water could be used to measure the volume of objects – he immediately leaped out of the bath and ran to tell the king about his solution. He arrived at the palace stark naked and dripping wet.
Gunter Grass in stepped in it again with a poem decrying the military first strike mentality specifically referencing Israel's supposed intention to bomb Iran's nuclear sites. (THR):
The poem is, to put it bluntly, morally obtuse and politically embarrassing. Having reversed the arrows of causation, Grass says nothing about the hatred of Israel that the Iranian regime has publicly expressed since 1979, about its specific threats to “wipe it off the map” in the past decade, or the vicious Jew-hatred that is a steady diet of its propaganda. Apparently he has not read the most recent reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency that confirm Iran’s efforts to build nuclear weapons. Nor does Grass understand that the purpose of missile-carrying submarines is to ensure the credibility of a second strike should Iran or any other power attack Israel first. These submarines are essential for a stable system of deterrence. No Israeli leader has spoken about delivering a first strike with nuclear weapons that would “extinguish” the Iranian people. All of this comes from a man who was “silent” for five decades of his very successful literary career about the fact that as a young man he was a member of the Waffen SS at the end of World War II.
The idea, put forward by Grass, that there is a taboo in German intellectual and political life about criticizing Israel and its policies has been a favorite theme of Israel’s critics since the 1960s. But the taboo does not exist. There has been no silence in Germany, especially in such places as Der Spiegel or the Süddeutsche Zeitung, not to mention among intellectual and political forces to their left, for many decades. On the contrary, hostility to both Israel and the United States, and the view that these two countries are the major threat to world peace, became embedded in the German left-wing and left-liberal mainstream many decades ago. In this sense, Grass’s diatribe is part of a long established conventional wisdom. It takes neither courage nor intelligence to run with the mob. Grass’s poem seeks to make the mob yell even louder.
Pew Study on e-Reading confirms some interesting trends.  Among them (Pew):
30% of those who read e-content say they now spend more time reading, and owners of tablets and e-book readers particularly stand out as reading more now. Some 41% of tablet owners and 35% of e-reading device owners said they are reading more since the advent of e-content. Fully 42% of readers of e-books said they are reading more now that long-form reading material is available in digital format. The longer people have owned an e-book reader or tablet, the more likely they are to say they are reading more: 41% of those who have owned either device for more than a year say they are reading more vs. 35% of those who have owned either device for less than six months who say they are reading more.

The average reader of e-books says she has read 24 books (the mean number) in the past 12 months, compared with an average of 15 books by a non-e-book consumer. Some 78% of those ages 16 and older say they read a book in the past 12 months. Those readers report they have read an average (or mean number) of 17 books in the past year and 8 books as a median (midpoint) number.