An unusual exploration of a quiet revolution that changed the world.

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MULTIMEDIA

FROM WAGNER TO VIRTUAL REALITY

A comprehensive and ambitious anthology chronicling the history of “the multimedia revolution.”

With this collection, multimedia experts Packer and Jordan present a sampling of seminal articles by the artists, writers, scientists, musicians, and architects who engineered the 20th century’s communication revolution. Each of these authors, from composer Richard Wagner to multimedia artist Nam June Paik, Douglas Engelbart (inventor of the mouse, windows, and e-mail), and beat writer William Burroughs, envisioned modes of artistic expression that penetrated “the fourth wall” dividing art from audience. Each imagined new modes of synthesis or communication that would enable people actively to engage with art, literature, music, and vast stores of information in their everyday lives. Most of these visionaries believed that technology was the key to their efforts—that computers could transform the passive appreciation of art into an active, participatory discourse. Many of these works are very technical, and most require a basic understanding of contemporary debates in art and science. The editors have done readers the invaluable service of providing pithy, astute, contextual summaries of each essay so that readers can pick and choose from among them. In fact, picking and choosing is an appropriate way to read this collection, since Ted Nelson (who coined the terms “hypertext” and “hypermedia” in 1963), William Gibson (to whom we owe the term “cyberspace”), and many others believed that nonlinear reading and writing are ideal (because these forms better mirror the nonlinear workings of the human mind). Gems include Vannevar Bush’s 1945 Atlantic Monthly essay that led to the development of the “hyperlink,” Tim Berners-Lee’s 1989 proposal for a decentralized information network that was the foundation for the development of the World Wide Web, media artist Lynn Hershman’s description of her groundbreaking multimedia projects, and Marcos Novak’s piece about virtual architecture in cyberspace.

An unusual exploration of a quiet revolution that changed the world.

Pub Date: April 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-393-04979-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2001

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DEAR MR. HENSHAW

Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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