According to the CIA World Factbook, the adult literacy rate is 100%. Yes, 100%.”

Of course there is the cuisine…

“A [print] book sits there. It will contain the same words every time you open it. A book is outside the stream. Like a neutrino [sic: it was that sort of presentation], it rarely interacts with the world or interferes with the thoughts of even a single reader. This is its merit and its damnation…It is printed, dead, done with. Furniture.”

An ebook, he continued, is a file, “and because it’s just a file an ebook is never finished, an ebook is never cleanly separated from the rest of the flow of bits, an ebook is active, part of a wider ecosystem.” ~ Bill Thompson from the BBC Archives 



The art of destruction

These three images represent a realization I had the other day: a damaged or destroyed object may be visually more appealing than the same object in its original state. The top image shows the pulpy remains of the National Library of Iraq, which was destroyed in 2003. At present the library, which included thousands of ancient books, looks more like the surface of a rock than a collection of thoughts and ideas. The charcoaled objects in the middle are three papyrus scrolls from Herculanaeum, a Roman city that was covered by volcanic ash in 79 AD. Its famous library was reduced to cigaret buds like these. The lower book, made in the fifteenth century, is damaged by beetle larvae - “bookworms” - who ate through its pages. As much as I would love to see these objects restored to their full glory, there is something oddly appealing about them in their present state. Sometimes destruction creates beauty.

Pics: the three rolls are Oxford, Bodleian Library, Gr. Class. f. 25-27 (more here); I blogged about them here. The story of the destroyed Iraq National Library is presented here (the image above is from that story). The “bookworm” image is from Emir O Filipovic (@EmirOFilipovic) and I used it in a blog some time ago (here).