Rolf Norfolk Blog | Gaming Democracy | Talkmarkets
Editor at Broad Oak Magazine
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Rolf is an Oxford-educated British IFA, now retired. Rolf has been a bear from the late 90s on, hence the byline "Sackerson" (a famous 16th century bear on London's animal-baiting circuit). Rolf runs the Broad Oak Magazine blog; originally named "Bearwatch", it was set up ... more

Gaming Democracy

Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2016 3:25 PM EDT

As a girl, Mother was a great reader. She would go to the glass-fronted book cabinet in the cigar-scented study and feel behind the rows for the good stuff father had hidden there, such as Madam Bovary: every system can be gamed.

She would also spend a lot of time in the school library. However, one day, she entered to find big gaps in the shelves: without warning, all the Jewish and socialist writers had been removed. The new government was cleansing the librosphere of ideological pollution: nothing was to seduce impressionable minds away from socially-agreed norms. This was, after all, the clean and progressive East Prussia of the 1930s.

Half a lifetime later, a classical student was in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, researching an incident in the Peloponnesian War. The index occupied a room on its own, full of massive volumes with pasted-in entries giving descriptions and locations of the millions of items. You felt you had arrived as a scholar, just lifting one of these, thumping it on the lectern and turning the crowded pages. Now, where was a map of the ancient harbour at Lesbos? Ah, here, coded with a Greek φ. He filled in the order slip, but was told he would have to wait for the senior librarian to come back from lunch. The time came, and my friend was taken to another room. There was the large brown envelope; the librarian snipped the corner and slid out the contents – “Lesbos: twelve unretouched photographs of lesbian love.” So that’s what the phi was for. Still, it was a publication, so it was stored, and could be consulted on request. That was liberalism in action.

Today, while Crown copyright libraries continue to grow like Topsy, ordinary public libraries are closing and selling off or throwing away their stock - but we have the Internet, accessible at all times. It is so great that more than ever, we need a librarian to guide us through its virtual stacks. But there is no leather-bound index; instead, we have search engines, chiefly Google.

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