Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Around the Word

Giving a new meaning to literary license: After reading a piece in The Economist about the proliferation of licensing requirements in the U.S., our friend Hal Gordon was moved to ponder a chill-inducing question -- should speechwriters be certified too? Gordon points out, with tongue at least half in cheek, that anyone can pass themselves off as a speechwriter without any credentials, and highlights the potential menace this poses to the public. 
"Consider the number of wedding receptions that turn into fiascos every year because the wedding toast was written by an uncredentialed speechwriter," Gordon, a top speech pro, writes on his blog. "Consider the number of aspiring politicians or rising young executives whose careers have been irretrievably blighted by a bad speech crafted by an amateur. Consider the effect that just one incompetently-written commencement address could have on hundreds of graduates. Ruining this major rite of passage in their lives by second-rate oratory could cause them untold psychological damage – even scar them for life." 
What say you speechifiers out there? Badge of integrity -- or sign of the apocalypse?

More learning, less lending: Marketing guru and futurist Seth Godin is making waves in literary land with a provocative blog post calling on libraries to change their core mission to go with the digial flow. Godin argues that pre-Gutenberg books were an expensive commodity, rivaling the price of a modest home, and as result the creation of shared books was a necessity. With the digitization of books and the overflow of information available electronically, libraries as warehouses are becoming obsolete -- but the need for librarians, to help us navigate the overflow of information out there, is greater than ever. The future, according to Godin, is the librarian as "... producer, concierge, connector, teacher, and impresario." Is this realistic? Tell us what you think.

App-ealing news for NYPL users: Speaking of library evolution. . . .The New York Times reports today that the New York Public Library has unveiled its first iPad research app. Biblion: The Boundless Library, is the name for what will actually be a series of apps that will highlight different elements in the library's research collections. The first edition in the series highlights the library's 1939-1940 World's Fair Holdings, which are among the most consulted collections by researchers; it's currently available for free at the iTunes Store. As we move into summer, be on the lookout for an app that allows you to reserve books.

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