Alex Wright

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Sutrayana Seminary February 23, 2007

I spent the last month up in frosty Barnet, Vermont, attending the 2007 Sutrayana Seminary at Karmê Chöling. One week later, the memories are already fading, so I thought I would jot down a few recollections while I can still...
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Eleanor Rosch, Recategorized November 18, 2006

For the last few years, I've been fascinated with Eleanor Rosch's work on prototype theory (which George Lakoff took as his starting point for Women, Fire and Dangerous Things). Rosch's theory of categorization always struck me as surprisingly compatible with...
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Anatopic Obliteration August 7, 2006

Gartner's Nick Gall sent a few comments on my earlier posts about the obliteration phenomenon (archived here and here). He suggests that Eugene Garfield's usage of the term may be too broad, encompassing what are actually two discrete trends: Permanent...
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The B�n Canon July 20, 2006

While I was staying at Serenity Ridge last month, I became intrigued by one of its prized possessions, the B�n Canon. The Canon very neraly failed to survive the Chinese invasion of Tibet. As the Chinese razed monasteries across the...
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Palimpsests and Page Rank June 9, 2006

A few weeks ago I posted an entry about Eugene Garfield's notion of the "obliteration phenomenon," the bibliographical paradox in which important original works often get eclipsed by subsequent derivative works. The canonical example is Einstein's Theory of General Relativity,...
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In Search of Cutter's Catalog May 18, 2006

Last week, I paid a visit to the Boston Athenaeum, one of the world's oldest private subscription libraries. Tucked down a quiet block at 10 1/2 Beacon Street, the building is easy to miss. Step inside, however, and the doors...
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Crooked Cucumber April 27, 2006

I just finished reading David Chadwick's Crooked Cucumber, a biography of the late Zen teacher and San Francisco Zen Center founder Shunryu Suzuki. As one of the countless people who first connected with Buddhism through Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, I...
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IA Summit: Stone Age Information Architecture March 27, 2006

Yesterday morning, I gave my presentation at the IA Summit. The slides should be up soon on the Summit Web site; but for now, here's a quick recap of my talk. Update: the slides are now available (note: Firefox users...
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The Whuffie Paradox February 17, 2006

Eugene Garfield coined the term "obliteration phenomenon" to describe an interesting bibliographical paradox: sometimes the most influential writing leaves almost no mark in the paper trail. The canonical example is Einstein's theory of general relativity, which, despite its obvious importance...
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Probability, Superstition and Ideology December 19, 2005

Nick Carr makes the humanist case against Chris Anderson's defense of probabilistic systems like Google and Wikipedia, taking issue with Anderson's argument that qualitative criticisms of these systems fail to recognize the virtues of sacrificing "perfection at the microscale for...
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Tags as ideology April 20, 2005

Gene Smith has written an excellent critique of Clay Shirky's Ontology is Overrated thesis. While I'm as burned out as anyone by now with windbagging about tags and folksonomies, I do think Gene makes several refreshingly new points here. In...
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The Poetess and the She-monster March 26, 2005

In 1624, the English playwright Thomas Heywood published the Gunaikeion, an encyclopedic study of his favorite subject: women. Inside this thick volume, readers would find tales of brave queens, learned ladies, chaste damsels, Amazons, witches, even a transgendered woman or...
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Travellers and Magicians January 10, 2005

Khyentse Norbu is a Bhutanese filmmaker and prot�g� of Bernardo Bertolucci, whose first film, The Cup, earned good notices at Cannes and other international film festivals. When he's not directing, Khyentse also holds down a day job: as Dzongsar...
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Folksonomies redux September 7, 2004

There's been some follow-up discussion on folksonomies (cf. my earlier post) by Peter, Clay, Victor, and Jon, and what I believe is a related thread about Wikipedia vs. traditional Encyclopedias by Joi, Matt and Cory. Both discussions seem to boil...
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Words Of My Perfect Teacher June 16, 2004

Last night I went to a screening of Words Of My Perfect Teacher, a new documentary about Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama-cum-filmmaker who wrote and directed The Cup and the forthcoming Travellers and Magicians. Filmmaker Lesley Ann Patten presents...
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Siam Diary: Part I May 10, 2004

Two Thailands And who can so describe a city as to give a significant picture of it? It is a different place to everyone who lives in it. No one can tell what it is. Somerset Maugham, on Bangkok Any...
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The Botany of Desire September 5, 2003

A fast-dash airport bookstore purchase en route home to Richmond this weekend yielded a copy of Michael Pollan's Botany of Desire. Pollan, an environmental writer and frequent contributor to the New York Times magazine, has constructed a dark and slightly...
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Taking Refuge March 13, 2003

He who knoweth the precepts by heart, but faileth to practice them, Is like unto one who lighteth a lamp and then shutteth his eyes. - Nagarjuna This Sunday morning, I will travel to Davis, California, to participate in...
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Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages

Mastering Information Through the Ages

New Paperback Edition

“A penetrating and highly entertaining meditation on the information age and its historical roots.”
—Los Angeles Times     

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