Otis Library Asks:
What are you reading?

Book reviews and best sellers lists are all well and good, but sometimes the best books are those you hear about from word of mouth. With that in mind, the Otis Library asks “What are you reading?” Add their recommendations to your own reading list! Remember to ask at the Information Desk if you need help locating one of these books.

Our reader this month is:
Steve Fithian, Librarian, Otis Library                                                                                                                                                                            

I’m currently reading Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground between Humans and Robots by the Pultitzer Prize winning journalist John Markoff. He examines the current revolution in computer technology and the rapid advances in the applications of artificial intelligence in the expanding field of robotics.  His book examines not only the optimistic promise of these trends but he also notes the existential dread that super-intelligent machines will increasingly supplant human beings in the labor force in the coming years.

This book is in a sense a sequel to his earlier book which I read several months ago, entitledWhat the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry. Markoff chronicles the history of the then emergent field of personal computing and how the young research computer scientists at institutions such as Stanford University’s computer labs and the Palo Alto Research Center were strongly influenced by the utopian ideologies of that era.

Another book I read recently was Empire Of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert. He documents the history of the relationship of human beings and the cotton plant. Cultivated and utilized by local artisans worldwide for centuries, cotton was transformed into a global commodity that functioned as a major economic catalyst for the Industrial Revolution. Ponemah Mills in Taftville, CT was a tangible symbol of the Industrial Revolution and the commercial clout of the cotton industry in the late 19th century.

You can view photographs of the Ponemah Mills and other historical images of Taftville and Norwich in the 19th and early 20th centuries on the libraries Flickr page http://www.otislibrarynorwich.org/flickr-photos/ and view them when you visit the library streaming on the large screen in the atrium.