Micro.blog

schuth
schuth

Kiddo: Apu, what does your t-shirt say?

Me: It says “Roderick on the Line #Supertrain.” It’s about a podcast. Do you listen to podcasts?

Kiddo: Podcasts? I’ve never heard of those before!

smokey
smokey

@schuth I read that last line in my head as if you’d mentioned a floppy disk or rotary dial telephone….

In reply to
schuth
schuth

@smokey I was talking with a colleague recently about microfilm, when I had this intense recollection of days spent looking at microfilm archives of my hometowns’s newspaper at the public library. I could sit there for hours, reading articles published decades, or a century, before. I realized that hobby was the first inkling I might be a historian.

smokey
smokey

@schuth :-) Oh, wow. My early experiences with (microfiche and) microfim were all frustrating—missing sheets or reels, missing or poorly-rendered pages, always having to have someone else involved in the process, while books almost never had those limitations. It wasn’t until grad school and the ability to read 18th century West African Sufi manuscripts on ILLed microfilm in a tiny room in the library basement that I really came to appreciate the medium :-)

I have no idea, though, what may have been the first inkling I might be a historian, or even what finally led me to end up there…

schuth
schuth

@smokey Poorly-rendered reproductions are The Worst, because you know the thing exists or existed, but it wasn’t properly captured.

Did you enjoy encyclopedias growing up? We had an incomplete set of the World Book from the late Fifties, obtained in a school library sale. I pored over them.

macgenie
macgenie

@schuth @smokey We had a complete set of World Book, but the only entry seared into my memory is Titanic in the “T” volume. Sometimes I would look it up just to scare myself.

smokey
smokey

@schuth @macgenie Yes! When I was little, I was so easily distracted by the World Books in the school library whenever we had a project where we had to look something up.

A few years later, A&P was selling the Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia at 2 volumes a week, a few dollars per volume, and I somehow convinced my mother to buy them, and proceeded to live in some of those volumes. (A couple of years ago, she wanted to get rid of them, but I intervened. I’m not sure what I’m going to do with a minor late 20th century encyclopedia in the age of the Internet, but my analog side is happy.)

smokey
smokey

@macgenie I see that transportation disasters theme came early for you :-)

smokey
smokey

@schuth

Poorly-rendered reproductions are The Worst, because you know the thing exists or existed, but it wasn’t properly captured.

It’s interesting how knowledge of a thing’s existance makes its loss so much stronger than the losses of all the things we never knew about—the lives of women and common folk in past centuries, for instance—and ones where it’s so close but just not quite useable are even worse.

joshuabeatty
joshuabeatty

@smokey Funk & Wagnalls! I had the complete set, bought one-by-one from a local chain, Star Market. My favorite volume of all was the historical atlas. I still remember the map of pre-Norman Conquest Britain -- the Angles, and the Saxons, and the Jutes. The Jutes should get more love.

smokey
smokey

@joshuabeatty Oh, I feel robbed! No historical atlas in this set :-( I would have never stopped looking at that! There was a 2-volume dictionary, which we got, but that’s not nearly as fun.

I’ve always wondered what happened to the Jutes—the Angles left their name to Anglia and the Saxons the various -sexes, and the Jutes…went back to Jutland?

RossA
RossA

@smokey my mum still has a set of Encyclopaedias from when she was young. I always have a look when we go round for the entertainment value - it’s amazing how out-of-date / factually incorrect / racist or behind modern day thinking some of the articles are. Likewise there are some areas where you wonder why we haven’t learnt more in the 40 years since they were published!

smokey
smokey

@RossA That’s true, they do become historical documents capturing our state of knowledge, perceptions, biases, and whatnot at a given time. That’s certainly part of the reason I’ve held on to my dad’s college European history textbook.