People Dreamed of a Portable Library of Congress in 1936
In this 1936 Modern Mechanix article, a fantasy about shrinking the Library of Congress to fit “in a few small filing cabinets” on microfiche/film. Once this is done, copies of the great library will be distributed to worthy institutions all over the world.
This is one of the Ur-dreams of librarianship, what Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive calls “universal access to all human knowledge.” Today’s Internet was shaped by people who share the dream. It’s a beautiful one.
Design projects and writing by Frank Chimero.
So I’m mere days away from launching Topshelf’s new site — which I’ve spent a large majority of 2013 ignoring my social life for. Feeling oddly content with my work for a few fleeting moments, I decided to go perusing through my Twitter timeline. Remembering the brilliant article by Frank Chimero that I read yesterday, I decided to click through to his account and delve a little deeper into his stuff (which is great). I came across this visual essay which is so soul crushingly good it has reinstilled why it’s only safe to feel content with your work for but a few fleeting moments.
Back to work.
Van Utrecht’s picture takes us back four centuries, to a time when abundance was new and not to be taken for granted. He knew it was hard to get that lobster. Europeans of his era were amazed (as we still should be) that human beings can arrange the world in such a way as to make possible so bounteous a feast. They knew that marshes had to be drained and cattle fed through the winter, and they were impressed that lemons could reach a northern table. Perhaps these very fruits were carried by donkey from the Neapolitan hills down to the harbor, onto leaky wooden ships that braved storms and struggled with unreliable winds.
People of that day felt the beauty of trade and understood how easily it could be disrupted by blockades or war. Every pleasure of the table was sending money around Europe—a force for peace and prosperity. The picture remembers all this effort and celebrates it.
Today we are so afraid of greed that we forget how honorable the love of material things can be. In the 17th century, homage was still paid to the nobility of commerce—a concept that boredom and guilt have made less accessible to us. Perhaps we can learn from this picture. A good response to consumerism might be not to sacrifice these pleasures and live without lobster and lemons but to appreciate what really goes into providing them.
Our desire to have luxury cheaply is the real problem. If the route to your table were dignified and ethical at every stage, a lemon would cost more, of course. But maybe then we’d stop taking lemons for granted and find their zest all the keener.
Art for Life’s Sake — Alain de Botton, Wall Street Jounal
I always come back to this.
Whoa! Topshelf Records is suddenly getting thousands of followers on SoundCloud — Anyone know if we’re being featured somewhere or something??
Don’t get me wrong, the new iPhones look interesting. But this is an excellent idea for the future of cellphones.
(by Dave Hakkens)
Completely agree with the OP. This is a very democratic, sustainable, and innovative path forward for cell phones. I hope such an idea can catch on.
I support this 100%.
If your drummer sucks, you suck.
Q:do you like any smaller bands from boston?
I really like/liked Maura, Fat History Month, Somos, I Kill Giants, Bike Pile, Choke Up, Cerce, The Weeds, Sneeze — I’m sure I’m forgetting some here. But yeah. Check those out, I guess?