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Founded in 1962 by Charles L. Klotzer

Archive for November 2009

Parallels between Twitter and Orwell’s Newspeak

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It can be argued that Twitter has emerged as a legitimate form of communication that could influence how children will spell — and think — in the future. Both Fox News and CNN have adopted the form and syntax of Twitter for their closed captions, so that Twitter is no longer merely a computer shorthand but has become an integral facet of our mainstream media.

To illustrate: On Sept. 11, 2001, Fox News carried a story about President Bush’s immediate response to the terrorists’ attacks that adopted Twitter as the style for their closed-caption account (he “did rht thin”).

This year, a new keyboard was introduced called “Tweetboard.” The traditional keyboard has been reconfigured, so that Twitter symbols assume prominent positions on the top row: @ (reply), # (hashtags), RT (retweet), and via @. Another key is for shortening URLs. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

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Will books become just a memory?

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This story, about two St. Louis entrepreneurs, appeared in 1990. They were about 20 years early. Read Alan Kaufman’s recent essay about electronic books, “The Electronic Book Burning,” by clicking on this link.

Dust off the books on the shelf. Put ’em in a box and take it to a recycling center.

You might not need them anymore, if a small St. Louis company has its way. The home library of the future could be reduced to a shoebox full of memory modules, each about the size of a quarter.

VPR Systems Ltd. — headed by Robert Griesedieck, 66, a former brewing executive, and Michael Saigh, 37, a stockbroker and business professor — plans to introduce a hand-held electronic book by the fall of 1991.

Unlike other manufacturers, who are developing systems that use compact discs for text and graphics, VPR’s ‘video pocket reader’ uses an interchangeable, reprogrammable memory module. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 2, 2009 at 7:55 pm

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“All nature was in a state of dissolution”

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It hit New Madrid, Mo., on Dec. 16, 1811, at 2 in the morning. Settlers ran terror-stricken from tottering and falling buildings to find the earth belching forth great volumes of sand and water. Stores and houses fell into great fissures. The river rose five or six feet in a few minutes. Its color changed to a reddish hue and became thick with mud roiled from its bottom. The surface of the Mississippi was covered with foam and the jets on the shore went higher than the treetops. Within five minutes, the clear serene night became overcast and purplish. The air was filled with a dense, sulfurous vapor that left the inhabitants gasping for breath. The overcast stayed until daybreak; aftershocks (twenty-seven of them) occurring every six to ten minutes accompanied by sudden flashes of fire brought a night full of horror. The fissures ran from southeast to northwest. People felled trees across the direction of cleavage and hung to the trunks to keep from being buried alive. The churchyard with its dead was gone. The great fissures bared the bones of gigantic mastodons and ichthyosauri.

Between New Madrid and Vick’s Plantation, now Vicksburg, there wasn’t the sign of a town remaining along the 300-mile stretch of river. Read the rest of this entry »

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November 2, 2009 at 5:30 pm

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