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December 23, 2008

Flippin' Pages, Clickin' Links

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Between episodes of clearing sidewalks and driveways of the ten or more inches of accumulated snow here in Seattle (of mild climate fame) I've been chipping away at a remaindered copy of this book about art patron/collector/dealer Peggy Guggenheim. She was not (until late in life when she agreed to turn over the collection) connected with the Guggenheim museums populating New York, Bilbao and other places; those were originally funded by Samuel Guggenheim, a rich member of the clan. Peggy was a "poor" Guggenheim. In other words she was rich, but not seriously so.

The biography goes into a lot of detail about her private life along with her dealings with the arts. As a result, it is stuffed with names of people she encountered, married, lived with, supported, etc., etc. There are two glossy photo sections, but in no way do the assembled pictures illustrate most of the names mentioned in the text.

So I found myself repeatedly rising from my easy chair and going over to my desktop computer to Google on various names in order to: (1) find a photograph to see what they looked like; (2) look for biographical information to supplement what was in the book; and (3) in the case of artists I'm not familiar with, see what their paintings look like. Score one for the Internet age!

According to some, the ideal is to read a text solidly embedded with links to the sorts of items I just mentioned along with other information. This is not a new concept. An example that's been around for years is Ted Nelson's Project Xanadu -- it was old news when I heard him speak at a computer language convention in 1991 and it still hasn't really gotten off the ground, so far as I can tell.

Another possibility would be a device similar to Amazon's Kindle, but with a huge internal version of something like Wikipedia or perhaps a combination of that feature with Internet linkage. For me, this is not ideal because I really do prefer reading books than Kindles.

So for now, my dashing back and forth from chair to computer works well enough, and sure beats the good old days when there was little I could do to immediately satisfy my curiosity regarding items I'd stumble over.



posted by Donald at December 23, 2008


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