Kahle, Founder and Digital Librarian of the Internet Archive. Member, National Academy of Engineering, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Internet Hall of Fame
When I started the Internet Archive 25 years ago, I focused our non-profit library on digital collections: preserving web pages, archiving television news, and digitizing books. The Internet Archive was seen as innovative and unusual.
Now all libraries are increasingly electronic, and necessarily so. To fight disinformation, to serve readers during the pandemic, and to be relevant to 21st-century learners, libraries must become digital.
But just as the Web increased people’s access to information exponentially, an opposite trend has evolved. Global media corporations—emboldened by the expansive copyright laws they helped craft and the emerging technology that reaches right into our reading devices—are exerting absolute control over digital information.
These two conflicting forces—towards unfettered availability and completely walled access to information—have defined the last 25 years of the Internet. How we handle this ongoing clash will define our civic discourse in the next 25 years.
If we fail to forge the right path, publishers’ business models could eliminate one of the great tools for democratizing society: our independent libraries.
The throwback to a golden era of train travel will only be available for certain routes.
By Melissa Locker, Updated October 22, 2021
Good news for people who like eating while in motion: Amtrak may be bringing back the beloved dining car.
That’s right, eating your Whataburger honey butter biscuit behind the wheel is no longer the most glamorous way to eat-on-the-go.
Back in the fall of 2019, Amtrak announced that it was getting rid of the classic dining car —the ones with china and flatware on a white tablecloth—in favor of pre-packaged options. This was before the pandemic, so they couldn’t use health and safety as an excuse to stave off the inevitable firestorm of criticism.
While Amtrak executives may have been looking to cut costs, people really love the romantic notion of dining off of fine china while rolling through the night. Cutting the full dining car experience transformed train travel from something elegant and nostalgic to utilitarian.
Luckily, Amtrak has realized the error of its ways. The Washington Post reports that six long-distance routes, including the Texas Eagle, on the leg that connects Los Angeles to San Antonio, and the Sunset Limited, which runs between New Orleans and Los Angeles will once again offer dining options for sleeper car customers “that harken back to the golden age of rail travel.” Sadly, folks traveling routes on the eastern side of the Mississippi will be stuck with decidedly unromantic ready-made meals served on plastic trays.
The Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library, a building of pale concrete and greenish glass, rises four stories in midtown Memphis. Walking through its automatic doors on a weekday afternoon, I hear unexpected sounds, muffled but unmistakable, almost shocking in a library context: the deep, quaking bass beats of Memphis hip-hop, plus a faint whine of power tools cutting through metal.
It’s difficult to summarize the myriad changes taking place in American public libraries, but one thing is certain. Libraries are no longer hushed repositories of books.
Here at the Central branch in Memphis, ukulele flash mobs materialize and seniors dance the fox trot in upstairs rooms. The library hosts U.S. naturalization ceremonies, job fairs, financial literacy seminars, jazz concerts, cooking classes, film screenings and many other events—more than 7,000 at last count.
You can check out books and movies, to be sure, but also sewing machines, bicycle repair kits and laptop computers. And late fees? A thing of the past.
As legend has it, a few years back, Jeff Bezos demanded that his team at Amazon Studios create a fantasy epic that would put Game of Thrones to shame. Turns out, that kind of thing is even harder to do than it sounds. And more expensive than you can imagine. Inside the epic quest to bring Wheel of Time to life—and maybe change the face of global television forever.
Not long ago, this quarry, 40 kilometers outside Prague, held a carefully built fake town called the Two Rivers. Then, a few days back, the producers and set dressers of Amazon’s The Wheel of Time burned it down. The town’s inn, an intricately rendered two-story building, is now blackened, its left side plunged into spiky rubble: Smoke machines give the impression that it is still smoldering. There are holes in roofs, artfully destroyed beams. Every house—interior and exterior—has been charred enough so that it shows on camera.
The actors who wander the Two Rivers are made up to match. Rosamund Pike, who starred in Gone Girl, is smudged with soot. Rain has begun to come down in earnest, pooling in the muddy streets and making the extras and the stuntmen shiver. Michael McElhatton, who played Roose Bolton on Game of Thrones and is playing a character called Tam al’Thor on The Wheel of Time, sits on a stump in the middle of it all in a big down jacket, staring at nothing in particular.
It’s November 2019, and the production—comprising hundreds of, and on some days nearly a thousand, people—is filming the end of the first episode of what everyone hopes will be a television show that runs for, well: six seasons? Eight? A show that will be as epic and sensational and ubiquitous as Game of Thrones once was.