Monday, September 27, 2010

Libraries in a Digital Age

Libraries in a Digital Age is a one-day conference organised by the Association of Independent Libraries which will be held in the lecture theatre at the Royal Astronomical Society on Thursday 14 October.

There will be presentations on social networking; the Oxford Google Books digitization partnership; the publishing industry; the future of public libraries; the knowledge commons and copyright. Conference participants will also be able to take part in a tour of Royal Astronomical Society Library.

Full programme details and booking form are available on the AIL website:

Cities Under Siege: the New Urban Militarism

Stephen Graham's new book Cities Under Siege provides a powerful exposé of how contemporary political violence now operates through the sites, spaces and infrastructures of everyday urban life. One recent example of this trend is examined by Steve, in an article for Open Democracy: "From Helmand to Merseyside: Unmanned drones and the militarisation of UK policing"

further details on Steve's book on the Verso website

His article can be read on Open Democracy

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Housing the Urban Poor

On the New Internationalist website, Jeremy Seabrook describes a scheme in Bangladesh which has helped garment-workers, maidservants, rickshaw drivers, construction workers, vendors and labourers transform their lives through the building of multi-storey apartments for the working poor. "In the process, the lives of the people have been transformed: they acquired new skills, their livelihoods were enhanced by co-operative working, microcredit and social education, and their savings used to acquire land, on which the first block of flats has now reached its full six storeys in Mirpur in the north of Dhaka."

"The biggest obstacle to the realization of the project has been our absence of corruption. By refusing to give bribes, we have been our own worst enemy."

Read the full article in the New Internationalist.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Banned Books on tour

The London Libraries' "reader promotion Banned Books will go live in 28 Library Services across the country, including 16 in London on 25 September." in an attempt to raise awareness of censorship and the need for freedom of expression. Participating libraries will display sets of 50 books that have been banned or challenged in this country or overseas, and host discussions and author talks, around these themes and present banned music. A pre-event panel discussion on censorship in public libraries will be held on September 15 at the Free Word Centre, Farringdon Road, London. Participants include Lisa Appignanesi, author and president of English PEN; Tony Lacey, publishing director at Penguin, and Douglas Murray author of Hate on the State.

Further information on

Music is a Crime

Demetra Kotouza explores the origins and development of Rebetiko for Mute Magazine: "a kind of Greek, urban, subcultural music that developed around ports and urban centres in the end of the 19th and up to the first half of the 20th century, with the bouzouki as its main instrument. Today's rebetiko enthusiasts are fascinated not only with the way it combines oriental modes and rhythms with European harmonies, or by musicians' passion and virtuosic skill, but even more so by the defiant, hedonistic spirit of the culture it was born in."

Its a long, and times densely packed article, but fascinating because of the way it links music, not just to social issues but to the daily struggles of the poor, the exploited and the marginalised in Greek society. Footnotes for further reading, and links to websites featuring examples of Rebetiko.
Read the whole article on Meta Mute

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Google's All-Seeing Eye

William Gibson: "In Google, we are at once the surveilled and the individual retinal cells of the surveillant, however many millions of us, constantly if unconsciously participatory. We are part of a post-geographical, post-national super-state, one that handily says no to China. Or yes, depending on profit considerations and strategy. But we do not participate in Google on that level. We’re citizens, but without rights."
Read the full text of the article "Google's Earth" at the New York Times.