Computers and Culture

Just to add to what Kevin says here someone should tell Harold Bloom that computers, especially when connected to this Interweb thingy, are actually an excellent resource for high culture. Check out Project Gutenberg if huge quantities of free books is something you’d be interested in, or Bibliomania if you’d like somewhat fewer free books but with more bells and whistles. If you’ve got access to a good university library, this stuff probably isn’t going to be so useful to you, but for the rest of us this stuff can be quite cool. And some technophilic literature lovers put together neat stuff with annotations like this hypertext “The Waste Land” which would be even better if someone put it together with contemporary web design standards.

And, of course, it’s not just literature. The other day I came across Pre-Raphaelites.com which isn’t as good as a visit to your local museum, but is a lot more comprehensive than any particular one. Magritte.com, dedicated to my favorite painter, used to be one of my most-beloved web sites until the intellectual property police made them take down all the art, but the same folks still run a good Renoir page, among others. So if Bloom’s really concerned about boosting America’s cultural literacy, he should stop bashing-computers and get to work. The Western Canon is just begging to be transformed into a free, public domain hypertext document with links to the works under discussion and so forth.