9.290 virtual perils

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Mon, 13 Nov 1995 18:51:32 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 290.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Joseph Jones <jjones@unixg.ubc.ca> (24)
Subject: perils of virtuality

[2] From: "Christopher G. Fox" <cgfox@rci.rutgers.edu> (14)
Subject: Re: 9.287 virtuality

Date: Sun, 12 Nov 95 15:52:45 PST
From: Joseph Jones <jjones@unixg.ubc.ca>
Subject: perils of virtuality

I get a telephone call from someone who needs bibliographic information
for a book they have returned to the library. I check the online
catalogue and read out the desired information. They mention that the
book came from another library. I caution them about variations in
editions, imprints, etc. All they want is to fill in a blank before a
deadline. No time to be scrupulous.

I am sure Jim O'Donnell knows his library, his book, and what the title
and date should be. Many (too many) others do not. Part of the
librarian's burden is trying to salvage the confusion. Sometimes it is

Joseph Jones jjones@unixg.ubc.ca
University of British Columbia Library

Date: Mon, 13 Nov 1995 12:03:17 -0500
From: "Christopher G. Fox" <cgfox@rci.rutgers.edu>
Subject: Re: 9.287 virtuality


But what if the impusle to get up and find the book were, a) just another
way to interrupt your work, simply a way to assign purposiveness to the
laziness of not writing the next sentence, not thinking through the next
step in the argument, or b) motivated by the laziness of not wanting to go
to the trouble of making a connection to your on-line catalogue.

I can think of a counter-example from my own patterns of working and
procrastination--spending much more time and energy configuring two
machines to transfer files between them, often involving a lot of footwork,
bending, and so forth, when it would have been easier simply to transfer it
on floppy disk.

Indeed, there is something more than paradoxical about working hard on
what's supposed to be labour-saving device or technique. Especially when
you exchange the "mass" which work is supposed to displace with