Saturday, May 28, 2011

Will history disappear along with books as we know them?

Will History Disappear Along with Books As We Know Them?
Bookstores are closing and e-book sales are starting to outstrip printed books at Amazon. Today Amazon, tomorrow the world. The tipping point is near. Soon books on paper will become as old-fashioned as photographic film, done in by the same digital revolution of price, convenience, and digital connectivity and all it makes possible. There will be hardcover books around for a long time, just as there are many photographers who still swear by film and audiophiles who treasure their vinyl albums. But for most of us, most of the time, what we'll be reading won't be books but digitized hybrids.

Books will start morphing into something else, the same way that records and albums became tracks and mp3s. As books become virtual, will hyperlinked snippets and samples and remixes replace the extended discourses between readers and authors we know as books? Digital media lure us in into an electronic present of perpetual upgrades to the next new thing. Will the past come to be seen as an obsolete operating system? Will history disappear along with books as we know them?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dialing up the Forgotten History of UW-Madison's "Ghost Town by the Lake"

One of the most unique features of the University of Wisconsin-Madison lasted for 50 years, from 1912 through 1962.

Tent Colony WoodsProviding inexpensive natural living in a woodsy paradise, the "Tent Colony" was the place along Lake Mendota below what's now Eagle Heights where every summer tents were erected on permanent wooden platforms to serve as housing for up to 300 students and family members, creating an amazing summertime community along the lake.

We were walking through the UW's Lakeshore Nature Preserve yesterday and came across this marker along the path through Tent Colony Woods, the stretch of woods between Frautschi Point and Wally Bauman Woods. In a curious mingling of past and technological present, the marker gave a phone number to call for the story of the "ghost town by the lake," and we dialed right into history. (To hear the entire narration, call 608-327-5715 from anywhere -- although the effect is more dramatic when you're standing there amid the ghosts of the past, with the wind rippling through the trees.) The "Tent Colony" link above also provides more history.

Wondering what that large concrete block is in the background? That's where the Tent Colony's hand-operated water pump once stood.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's really hard to play Hide and Go Seek at night when you glow in the dark

It's Hard to Play Hide and Go Seek at Night When You Glow in the Dark
"Hide and Go Seek" is a sculpture installation by artist Christopher Murphy alongside John Nolen Drive just outside Olin Park, funded by the Madison Arts Commission's BLINK temporary art program. In the daytime they're easy to miss when you drive by, but the figures are hard to miss after dark, when they are lit from within by LED lights. Last year, Murphy did the "Girl on a Ledge" atop the Madison Children's Museum, also illuminated from within.

Note: If you want to take a longer look than you get flashing by at 50 mph headed downtown, take the Olin Ave. entrance into the park's south parking lot. You'll be able to park nearby for a closer look. Better yet, ride a bike -- they're right on the bike path.