Nancy Pearl has a the rule of 50. I have the rule of 100. Especially when a publisher is gracious enough to give me a free copy to read. I just couldn’t make it past 115.
Any sympathy I might have had for Alva Vanderbilt, and the plight of women in the Gilded age just went out the window. We are supposed to sympathize with this girl from the South whose family has fallen onto hard times so she marries into the Vanderbilts.
I tried, really I did. As a historian, I know it’s unfair to impose contemporary standards onto ages long gone. And i do sympathize that for women there was so little agency that marrying into a wealthy family, and gaining social status, was of the difference between a death from poverty, or living.
But honestly, Alva was so dull. And everyone in society so mean and cruel. And William was just one-dimensional. And the descriptions of the unseemly wealth and how it was spent ….
I am sorry Therese Anne Fowler, St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley that I can’t give a better review of this book. Thank you so much for providing me with the opportunity to try.
DARPA had set out to link the core processing capabilities in America’s top computer science research centers … (p. 232)
The romance of the Net came not from how it was built or how it worked but from how it was used. (p. 218)
You know I’m old when I say there was a time in my life when I didn’t know what a computer really was, and I’d never heard of the internet or the World Wide Web. Really. Phones were attached to walls then too.
In 1984 I moved from Texas to Silicon Valley with my then boyfriend who had a newly minted degree in Computer Science and a job at a company which made disc duplicators.
I had no idea what I was in for. The Selectric III was the height of fashion for secretaries at the time, and I loved mine. But because I lived with a geek, the culture seeped in. We had multiple phone lines, various computers and modems, and … well, the rest is history, so to speak.
As I write this, I work at the Computer History Museum and am surrounded by the internet. It’s the best place I’ve ever worked.
Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon’s book Where Wizards Stay Up Late takes the reader through the history of the Internet. From the wild and wooly days of ARPA, whose IPTO was charged with developing a way for academic computers to link together allowing for sharing of information over AT&T’s phone line.
The birth of what because the internet was four enormous computers in Santa Barbara, Menlo Park, CA, Boston, and Salt Lake City, Utah. And what an effort it took to figure out how to do that. No one knew what they were doing, it had to be developed from scratch.
While Hafner & Lyon lay out the history, this book is not highly readable for someone who isn’t either a history nut (me) or a computer geek (partly me). It gets technical, which is fascinating if you’re someone whose been around the lingo for almost 30 years (also me). It reads a lot like a text book.
One of the oddities was the condescending manner in which things like “kludge” were explained, but more technical terms and phrases were often unexplained. It was like reading a book for adults, and then finding something directed at children randomly inserted.
I like my reading to be aimed at intelligent adults, not someone who hasn’t learned to tie their shoes yet.
The end felt rushed, as though the authors realized they were running out of time and needed to pick up the pace. As with all things computer history related, there’s a complex story to tell. In trying to simplify the story enough to tell in one short book, Hafner and Lyon shortchanged their readers.
[Rorschach] wanted to do more than treat patients: he wanted to bring culture and psychology together to explore the nature and meaning of individual and communal belief. (p. 91)
Ten inkblots. That’s all there are. Just ten cards with carefully thought out art in which can be found the meaning of the innermost workings of a human mind. There’s no right, or wrong, answer. Merely interpretation.
Rorschach’s carefully developed test remains controversial, its use hotly debated in psychology circles. Interpretation is key, but which method? Its usefulness as diagnostic tool is not without debate as well.
Hermann Rorschach was working towards a tool which would help psychiatrists know how to help their patients get better. Unfortunately, Rorschach died at the age of 37, not quite convinced his test was as finely tuned as it should be.
Damion Searls tells the story of this remarkable Swiss doctor/artist who yearned for a more holistic approach to patient care at the sanitarium for which he worked and did research. It was his hope that his inkblots, with careful diagnostics, would be one of the tools used for better care.
As someone who worked in the Ph.D. program for psychology at a small university, I’ve been exposed to the foibles of both students and faculty who think they have much to prove. Both to themselves and to each other. I can now be amused at the memories, at the time it was just downright painful to be in the middle of it.
And yet, Searls’ story reminded me of what we’re all up against, psychologists and laypeople alike. There’s a lot at stake for potential caregivers and their patients, and an overwhelming abundance of tools available. It’s no surprise that passions flare and boil over. Its understandable to some extent. This is not to say egos don’t come into play. I’ve encountered more than one “celebrity” psychologist who turned out to be a complete douche in need of some careful handling themselves.
Searls reminds me that despite all the posturing and arguing, there are people like Hermann Rorshach who are genuinely kind and caring, searching for ways to better help those under their care. Inkblots gave me real insight into the struggle of early psychoanalysts to find footing in their new field. Rorshach was among the pioneers, and his test has proven to be a useful tool for those who are careful with it.
Damion Searls has written the only biography of Hermann Rorschach and it’s worth reading if you’ve any interest in what makes people tick.