Thursday, January 03, 2013

Old knowledge, new knowledge

"I told them about Manutius."

She did it.

"How it's this amazing ancient book, totally a historical treasure, totally old knowledge, OK — "

She actually did it.

" — and then I explained how there's this nonprofit that's trying to break the code — "

"Nonprofit?"

"It sounds better than, like, secret society. Anyway, I said they're trying to break the code, and of course people perked up at that, because everybody at Google likes codes —"

Books: boring. Codes: awesome. These are the people who are running the internet.

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloan, was one of the best Christmas presents ever (thanks, bro!)! [Along with all the movie-watching you enabled!] [And the amazing red velvet bed cover (thanks, sis!)!]

This is not serious Literature, but there's so much love in it, for books, for codes, for secret societies, for the internet, for quests, for fonts, for obscure skillsets, for interconnectedness, for secret passageways built into bookshelves.

Mostly what I love about it this story is simply the intersection of old books with new technology. Because they don't have to be mutually exclusive.

This was the perfect holiday read — the kind of book you sneak off to read a chapter or two of for a few quiet moments away from the hecticity, the kind that helps a long journey pass easily, the kind that makes me wish I worked in a crazy weird bookstore.

Also, it turns out that Manutius is an actual historical figure, believed to have been the first typographer to use a semicolon.
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