Wright ends his illuminating story in the present, where Otlet’s thoughts about the connection of information to knowledge,...

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CATALOGING THE WORLD

PAUL OTLET AND THE BIRTH OF THE INFORMATION AGE

The story of Paul Otlet (1868-1944), Belgian librarian and utopian visionary, who, long before the digital age, dreamed of a worldwide repository of media, accessible to all.

As Wright (Glut: Mastering Information Through the Ages, 2007), New York Times director of user experience and product research, explains in this shrewd, brisk biography, cataloging books was only one of Otlet’s aims—he “saw little distinction between creating a new classification of human knowledge and reorienting the world’s political system.” Partnering with Henri La Fontaine, winner of the 1913 Nobel Peace Prize, and eventually involving architect Le Corbusier, Otlet envisioned a site for collecting all knowledge: “any object manifesting any kind of graphic symbols—letters, numbers, images—captured in any form of media in order to express any form of human thought.” The Palais Mondial was a start, a 36-room exhibition space with a huge lecture hall and commodious library, where researchers worked to fulfill individuals’ requests for information, some stored on the new invention of microfilm. But Otlet wanted more: a Mundaneum—“a World City that might stand at the center of a new world government.” Knowledge, Otlet believed, was inextricably intertwined, and intellectual communities, working collectively, could achieve social, political and cultural progress: “a new international political system, a monetary policy designed to ensure the fair distribution of wealth, a judicial system, [and] a global language,” all “in the service of humanity.” The Palais Mondial, initially supported by the Belgian government, was ultimately undermined by war, political controversy, the stock market crash and European turmoil. With his plans for a Mundaneum quashed, Otlet turned to writing, insisting on the moral and ethical implications of an information network, “the possibility of a technological future driven not by greed and vanity, but by a yearning for truth, a commitment to social change, and a belief in the possibility of spiritual liberation.”

Wright ends his illuminating story in the present, where Otlet’s thoughts about the connection of information to knowledge, and knowledge to insight, are still urgent.

Pub Date: June 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-19-993141-5

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2014

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

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The debut memoir from the pop and fashion star.

Early on, Simpson describes the book she didn’t write: “a motivational manual telling you how to live your best life.” Though having committed to the lucrative deal years before, she “walked away,” fearing any sort of self-help advice she might give would be hypocritical. Outwardly, Simpson was at the peak of her success, with her fashion line generating “one billion dollars in annual sales.” However, anxiety was getting the better of her, and she admits she’d become a “feelings addict,” just needing “enough noise to distract me from the pain I’d been avoiding since childhood. The demons of traumatic abuse that refused to let me sleep at night—Tylenol PM at age twelve, red wine and Ambien as a grown, scared woman. Those same demons who perched on my shoulder, and when they saw a man as dark as them, leaned in to my ear to whisper, ‘Just give him your light. See if it saves him…’ ” On Halloween 2017, Simpson hit rock bottom, and, with the intervention of her devoted friends and husband, began to address her addictions and underlying fears. In this readable but overlong narrative, the author traces her childhood as a Baptist preacher’s daughter moving 18 times before she “hit fifth grade,” and follows her remarkable rise to fame as a singer. She reveals the psychological trauma resulting from years of sexual abuse by a family friend, experiences that drew her repeatedly into bad relationships with men, most publicly with ex-husband Nick Lachey. Admitting that she was attracted to the validating power of an audience, Simpson analyzes how her failings and triumphs have enabled her to take control of her life, even as she was hounded by the press and various music and movie executives about her weight. Simpson’s memoir contains plenty of personal and professional moments for fans to savor.

An eye-opening glimpse into the attempted self-unmaking of one of Hollywood’s most recognizable talents.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-289996-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dey Street/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2020

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