Monday, March 24, 2008

Labor history online

On strike
Originally uploaded by louder
Something cool from the US Department of Labor: the Wirtz Labor Digital Library. A few titles that popped up on a casual browse:

If Your Baby Must Travel In Wartime - a guide for mothers traveling (mostly by train) during World War II. Illustrations by the brilliant Gluyas Williams make it more interesting.

A History of Organized Felony and Folly: The Record of Union Labor in Crime and Economics. A 1923 guide by the Wall Street Journal of all the crimes of organized labor. Interestingly enough the only source in the digital library that mentions Clarence Darrow.

Boy Power - The newspaper of the U.S. Boys Working Reserve, which I had never heard of, but was apparently a government program during WWI to steer youngsters into useful occupations.

The Potter and Lead Poisoning - A nineteenth century Biritsh government document about an industrial hazard.

There are 18 documents about black lung. None about Wobblies., but "IWW" brings up three editions of Important events in US Labor History.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Before New York, New York

Next year marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's visit to the island of Mannahatta, now known as Manhattan. Eric Sanderson, a landscape ecologist, has created a map of the island as it would have looked back then. You can read about it and see pictures in the New Yorker
Thanks to My Green Element for pointing it out.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Better Than Free

Free Dirt
Originally uploaded by Sanandreas

I just read a cool article by Kevin Kelly called "Better Than Free." He argues that the Internet is about making free copies of everything (books, pictures, music, movies, etc.). So how do we get people to pay for something that's free? By adding value, of course, and he discusses eight "generatives," things that can't be copied but have to be created. They include immediacy (I want it now), personalization (I want only the part that interests me), accessibility (I want someone else to take care of it and make it available when I need it), Interpretation (I'll pay someone to help me use the free service), etc.

He talks about "findability," thinking of aggregators like Amazon and Netflix that help people find "the good stuff." He points out that one of the original "aggregators," TV Guide, used to make more than the TV networks, simply by helping people find the best of stuff that was available for free. He also argues that publishers, film studios and music labels are aggregators.

A short, interesting read.