Saturday, February 09, 2008

#267 Work Reading

Mary has put down the Jane Austen books and I have put down the Edwin Way Teale books. And we're now spending some time reading books that are somewhat related to work.
Mary is reading Everything is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder by David Weinberger.
Even though the author dedicates Everything is Miscellaneous "to the librarians," this book is not just for librarians. Everyone can relate to how the new digital world is changing the way we organize our stuff and our lives.

It is not just Melvil Dewey (the man behind the Dewey Decimal System) and those librarians who like to organize things. All of us humans are interested in creating order in our world through organization. The digital world allows for a lot more freedom in organizing information.

And I am reading The Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic -- and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson.
Like every GIS student, I learned of John Snow and his cholera maps of 19th-century London. We covered this story in a few minutes in that Intro to GIS class. Snow's name has popped up on occasion since, especially when non-GIS folks run across Snow in their reading and mention him.

When I got around to reading The Ghost Map, my eyes were opened to the personal side of Snow's incredible discovery.

"It is worth pausing for a second to reflect on Snow's willingness to pursue his investigation this far. Here we have a man who had reached the very pinnacle of Victorian medical practice--attending on the queen of England with a procedure that he himself had pioneered-- who was nonetheless willing to spend every spare moment away from his practice knocking on hundreds of doors in some of London's most dangerous neighborhoods, seeking out specifically those houses that had been attacked by the most dread disease of the age. But without that tenacity, without that fearlessness, without that readiness to leave behind the safety of professional success and royal patronage, and venture into the streets, his "grand experiment" as Snow came to call it --would have gone nowhere."

Yours in appreciation of grand experiments,

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