Keepers of the Secrets

“Lannon said that Google had changed the way people sought information. ‘They only want information based on the information they think they want,’ he said. As a rule, he said, archivists at the library should give you the box you’ve asked for — but also suggest another box. There are fewer opportunities, now, to stumble into a world you don’t already know. ‘It’s important to look outside of your own existence.'”

—James Somers, “Keepers of the Secrets.” The Village Voice. September 20,2017.

A love letter to archives.

2 thoughts on “Keepers of the Secrets

  1. Yes, specialization in everything. Focus to the exclusion of all else, intellectual tunnel vision. The start of the academic year brought a flood of sighs and tut-tuts from professors about students “getting through” their general education requirements, with some saying that their colleagues were sometimes in agreement with students, “Yeah, this is a required course, let’s just get through it together.”

    1. In large part, isn’t this the implied lesson of school, even at the grade school level? Sit still. Do what you’re told. Fulfill the time requirement, and respond to the bell. The social organization is absolutely hostile to the openness to inquiry and critical thinking necessary for full intellectual development. I might even go so far as to say much of it is a form of intellectual foot binding, designed to create minds in desired shapes to perform specific functions. Further, the process is largely disconnected from the real tasks our system needs people to perform. Leaving one to wonder: what exactly is the point of this supposed education?

      And before I go to far down the college isn’t for everybody, elitist path, the G.I. Bill was instrumental in helping me to attend university. I consider the time and money spent the best investment I ever made.

      But, the military changed my approach. It taught me that the difference between the guys giving orders and the guys scrubbing toilets was a college degree, but the military did not much care what they specialized in or if the junior officers were any good. All that mattered was following orders. It freed me up to study what I wanted to learn when I got out rather than treat the experience as prep for a “career”.

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