Some two dozen of Smith's pen-and-ink illustrations, mostly decorative
but occasionally functional, are distributed throughout the book so that
only rarely will readers find a pair of facing pages which are solid print.
An index increases the book's usefulness as an additional resource for
middle-school units on Canadian History.
For a fictional treatment of the War of 1812, see Kevin James Block's
Without Shedding of Blood, reviewed in issue 5.
Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education, University of
Venus de Lino Productions, 1995. VHS, 48 minutes
Distributed by Moving Images Distribution,
606-402 West Pender St., Vancouver, BC, V6B
1-800-684-3014 / fax (604) 684-7165.
Grades 10 - 13 / Ages 15 - 18.
Review by Lorrie Andersen.
Chore Wars is a frank and amusing look at the division of
labour in Canadian homes, where, apparently, the tasks and responsibilities
still largely fall to the women. Several couples and families, young, old,
with children, without children, same-sex, and remarried, share their
frustrations, coping mechanisms, and practical solutions to the ways and
means of accomplishing household chores. Much discussion is focussed on who
cleans the toilet and how.
Men and women fantasize about their ideal way to achieve a clean, neat
house -- fantasies that provoke some comic reactions from their spouses. A
vacuum-cleaner salesman tells how his sales pitch is now no longer
exlusively directed to the woman of the house; in his demonstration he now
proffers the vaccuum between the couple, acknowledging that the man
might do this chore. In another segment the video explores with some levity
the relationship between male participation in household chores and the
frequency of sexual activity.
Professional opinions on the subject are also presented, including
comparisons to primate behaviour, findings that men who
engage in housework are physically healthier because they are also more
emotionally engaged in their marriages, and the research of Dr. Arlie
Hochschild, author of The Second Shift, which documents how
women still perform the majority of household tasks.
Chore Wars is a light-hearted look at a serious subject
that uses archival footage of ads for various cleaning products, commentary
by academics, dramatizations, and a a variety of honest assessments by a
cross-section of real people. Although it's not clear the film has a
natural place in a high-school curriculum, without a doubt, housework
remains a bone of contention in homes across the country, and the battles
Recommended with reservations -- for public libraries wherer there is a demand.
A librarian by training, Lorrie Andersen is Collection Development
Consultant, Instructional Resources, for Manitoba Education and
National Film Board, 1994.
72 minutes, $34.95.
Order number: 9194 042.
NFB has a new educational pricing policy in effect; phone 1-800-267-7710
Parental Guidance rating (suitable for children aged 13 and older).
Grades 11 - 12 / Ages 15+.
Review by A. Edwardsson.
"If I could meet God and say, `I'll give you three years of my life, just
make me thin,' I'd do it... My life is on hold until I lose this weight."
In Winnipeg, four-hundred-pound Rick Zakowich is ready for a change. This
documentary invites viewers along the the amusing, touching, and
Zakowich begins by seeking medical help, where he jokes with the the
tecnicians through a series of embarassing tests. Then we flash back in
time to his Ukrainian childhood in Winnipeg's North End, viewing photos of
young Rick and hearing about the history of his family's weight. Poignant
moments abound in the video: he tells how as a child he played the clown to
try to make people laugh with rather than at him; and he
talks about marrying young and how in trying to lose weight, he lost the
Six months into Rick's journey he has lost 30 pounds, but has become
sceptical of the the doctors' "just do it" attitude. Rick realizes others
are focussed only on how he looks, and not how he feels -- unhappy.
But viewers discover the internal Rick, Rick the person -- a sensitive
guy who works and connects with troubled kids. There's a moving segment
where he talks with a pre-teen named Eric. Eric is the son of separated
parents who fears his absent dad will return to beat up his mother again.
Rick records an empowering cassette tape for Eric; it has a heavy-metal
beat and Eric's name is in the lyrics.
The film shifts to a wider focus as Rick "comes out" as a large
person: he begins a support group for fat men and attends a conference for
obese people. Each person has their own heart-wrenching story -- like the
doctor who worries that his legs will give out and feels his life is a
sham: "It's not living," he says. Although these people try to desensitize
themselves to insults, they have been left with almost no feelings of
Rick grows to become an activist in the cause of acceptance for large
people: he appears on an open-line radio show; confronts the Winnipeg
Sun about their coverage of an overweight golfer's victory. He
helps design a pictograph (similar to symbols for the handicapped) to
designate fat-friendly places that have all-size access chairs, washrooms,
and so on.
By this point, Rick has fallen off his diet treadmill, but viewers
can't help but cheer his growing self-worth. He and the other
large people on screen wish others could see that worth too. This powerful,
well-crafted documentary tries and succeeds to gain viewers' acceptance and
compassion for large people.
The message, content, and pacing of the film make it best-suited for a
senior high audience. But be prepared -- there are several artsy, nude
photos of large women taken by a photographer who's trying to show that
beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This documentary will provoke lively
discussion and debate and would certainly enhance a unit on prejudice.
Fat Chance is the winner of numerous awards, including a
Genie nominee for Best Canadian Documentary, and a 1995 George Foster
Peabody Award (New York) for Broadcast and Cable Excellence.
A. Edwardsson is in charge of the Children's Department at a branch of
the Winnipeg Public Library. She holds a Bachelor of Education degree and
Child Care Worker III certification, and is a member of the Manitoba Branch
of the Canadian Author's Association.
The Canadian Childen's Book Centre is pleased to announce the
short-list for the eighth annual
Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical
Fiction for Young People.
On the short-list for 1995 are:
The Bilson Award was established in 1988 in memory of Geoffrey Bilson, a
respected historian and children's author. This annual prize of $1,000 has
been made possible by the Canadian children's publishing industry, and is
awarded to a Canadian author for an outstanding work of historical fiction
for young people.
- Ellen's Secret
- by Jean Booker (Scholastic Canada, 1994)
- The Old Brown Suitcase
- by Lillian Boraks-Nemetz
(Ben-Simon Publications, 1994)
- The Dream Carvers
- by Joan Clark (Viking, 1995)
- Nellie L.
- by Connie Crook (Stoddart, 1994)
- Within a Painted Past
- by Hazel Hutchins (Annick Press, 1994)
- His Banner over Me
- by Jean Little (Viking, 1995)
- The Burning Time
- by Carol Matas (HarperCollins, 1994)
- The Lie that Had to Be
- by Sharon Gibson Palermo
(Thistledown Press, 1995)
- Signal Across the Sea
- by Dorothy Perkins (Lancelot
The winner of the 1994 award was Kit Pearson for The Lights Go On
Again, published by Viking. The 1995 winner will be announced this
fall at the launch of Canadian Children's Book Week on November 18th at the
Queens Quay Terminal, Toronto.
The Internet & the
Future of Organized Knowledge: by Luciano
Part III of III
[Note: we thank Professor Floridi for kind permission to
reprint this material, which is a shortened version of a paper he gave at a
UNESCO Conference in Paris, March 14-17, 1995. Parts I & II were
published in the previous two issues of Canadian
Part Three: The Problems
In the previous two parts of this article, I argued for an
understanding of the Internet as a new stage in the growth of the
Human Encyclopedia, and showed how it allows us to do new kinds of
research by asking third-level (ideometric) questions about our
data. Here, we turn to new problems that the growth of a network
of information and communication has already caused or soon will
give rise to.
There are at least ten principal issues worthy of attention. I
shall deal with them in what I take to be their approximate order
(1) The Devaluation of The Book --
We have already entered the
stage where digital information is preferred over non-digital, not
because of its quality, but simply because it is available online.
However, the more resources that undergo the conversion, the less
serious this problem will become.
(2) The Devaluation of Information Processes --
helps to satisfy an ever-growing demand for information. In this
process, the use value of information has increased steadily, in
parallel with the complexity of the system, but its exchange
value has been subject to a radical modification. Because of the
great and rapid availability of data, the Internet has caused a
devaluation of some intellectual enterprises -- such as
compilations, collections of images, bibliographical volumes and
so forth -- whose original high value depended mainly on the
correspondingly high degree of inaccessibility that afflicted
information in the book era.
Today, much of the raw data that in the past had to be collected
at great expense of time and energy are freely available on the
Internet. The result is that the era of the great collections on
paper is practically over.
(3) Failure to Acknowledge New Scholarly Enterprise --
Academe has been slow in recognizing that new forms of scholarly
activity have appeared, like moderating a discussion list, keeping
an online bibliography constantly updated, or publishing a paper
in an electronic journal. The sooner such activities are properly
recognized and evaluated, the easier it will become for
individuals to dedicate more time and effort to the digital
encyclopedia, and the more the encyclopedia will improve.
(4) Too Much Knowledge to Access --
A fundamental imbalance --
between the extraordinary breadth of the system and the limited
amount of knowledge that can be accessed by an individual mind at
any one time -- arises because the quantity of information
potentially available on Internet has increased beyond control,
whereas the technology whereby the network actually allows us to
retrieve our data has improved much more slowly. The result is
that we are once again far from being capable of taking full
advantage of the full extent of our digital encyclopedia.
The challenge of the next few years will consist in narrowing the
gap between quantity of information and speed of access, even as
the former increases. Projects like the American Information
Superhighway, or SuperJANET in Great Britain, are of the highest
importance in this regard. However, we should keep in mind that
closing the gap completely is impossible because of the very
nature of the Encyclopedia.
(5) Too Much Accessible Knowledge to Manage --
This is the
problem of "infoglut," as BYTE has called it. Throughout past
history there was always a shortage of data, which led to a
voracious attitude towards information. Today, we face the
opposite risk of being overwhelmed by an unrestrained, and
sometimes superfluous, profusion of data. No longer is "the more
the better." If knowledge is food for then mind, then for the
individual mind to survive in an intellectual environment where
exposure to the Human Encyclopedia is greater than ever before,
for the first time in the history of thought we desperately need
to learn how to balance our diet.
Without a new culture of selection -- and tools that can help us
filter, select, and refine what we are looking for -- the Internet
will become a labyrinth which researchers will either refrain from
entering or in which they will lose themselves. One can only hope
that the care exercised today during the conversion of organized
knowledge into a digital macrocosm will soon be paralleled by
equally close attention to the development of efficient and
economical ways to select and retrieve the information we need. In
data-retrieval, brute force does not work any longer: we need
intelligence. The Internet needs to be improved by the inclusion
of expert systems.
(6) The Threat to Paper --
Some libraries are destroying their
card catalogues after having replaced them with OPACs (online
public access catalogs). This is as unacceptable as would have
been the practice of destroying medieval manuscripts after an
editio princeps was printed during the Renaissance. We need to
preserve the sources of information after the digitalization in
order to keep our memory alive. The development of a digital
encyclopedia should not represent a parricide.
(7) Some Knowledge Exists Only Digitally --
Because for large
sectors of the new encyclopedia there will be no paper epiphany,
access to the network will have to be universally granted in order
to avoid the rise of a new technological elite.
(8) The New Illiteracy --
Information Technology is the new
language of organized knowledge. Therefore elements of that
language must become part of the minimal literacy of any human
being, if free access to information is to remain a universal
(9) The Internet as Rubbish Heap --
Because the Internet is a
free space where anybody can post anything, organized knowledge
could easily get corrupted, lost in a sea of junk data. In the
book age, the relation between writer and reader was and is still
clear and mediated by cultural and economic filters -- e.g., you
won't get published if what you say isn't somehow "true." For all
their faults, such filters do provide some positive selection. On
the Internet, the relation between producer and consumer of
information is direct, so nothing protects the latter from corrupt
Now, there is much to be said in favor of the free exchange of
information on the network, and I believe that any producer of
data should be free to make it available online. But I think every
user should also be protected from corrupt knowledge by an
intermediary service, if she wishes. Unless academic and
cultural institutions provide some form of quality control, we may
no longer be able to distinguish between the intellectual space of
knowledge and a polluted environment of junk.
(10) Decentralization Means Fragmentation --
By converting the
Encyclopedia into an electronic space, we risk transforming the
new body of knowledge into a disjointed monster, rather than an
efficient and flexible system. The Internet has developed in a
chaotic (if dynamic) way, and today suffers from a regrettable
lack of global organization, uniformity, and strategic planning.
While we entrust ever more vast regions of the Human Encyclopedia
to the global network, we are also leaving the Internet itself in
a thoroughly anarchic state. Efforts at coordination are left to
occasional initiatives by commendable individuals, or to important
volunteer organizations, but this is insufficient to guarantee
that in a few decades organized knowledge will not be lost in a
labyrinth of millions of virtual repositories, while energies and
funds have been wasted in overlapping projects.
The Internet has been described as a library where at the moment
there is no catalogue, books on the shelves keep moving, and an
extra truckload of books is dumped in the entrance hall every
hour. Unless it is properly structured and constantly monitored,
the positive feature of radical decentralization of knowledge will
degenerate into a medieval fragmentation of the body of knowledge,
which in turn means a virtual loss of information. Already it is
no longer possible to rely on the speed of our networked tools to
browse the whole space of knowledge and collect our information in
a reasonably short time. If global plans are disregarded or
postponed and financial commitments delayed, the risk is that
information may well become no easier to find on the network than
the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Some people have compared the invention of the computer to the
invention of printing. To some extent the comparison is
misleading: the appearance of the printed book belongs to the
process of consolidation and enlargement of our intellectual
space, whereas the revolutionary character of Information
Technology has rested on making possible a new way of navigating
through such a space. But in one important sense they are similar:
in the same way as the invention of printing led to the
constitution of national copyright libraries to coordinate and
organize the production of knowledge in each country, so Internet
needs a coordinated info-structure.
The Info-Structure --
The info-structure would consist of
centers making coordinated efforts to fulfill the following five
I'm not advocating the creation of some international bureau for
the management of the Internet, a sort of digital Big Brother. Nor
have I any wish to see national organisms take control of our new
electronic frontier. Such projects, besides being impossible to
realize, would be contrary to fundamental rights of freedom of
communication, of thought, and of information. Far from it, I
believe in the complete liberty and refreshing anarchy of the
- guarantee the reliability and integrity of the digital
- provide constant access to it without discrimination, thus
granting a universal right to information;
- deliver a continually updated map to the digital universe of
- expand the numbers of primary, secondary, and derivative
resources available online, especially those that won't attract
- support and improve the methods and tools whereby the
Encyclopedia is converted into a digital domain, and whereby
networked information is stored, accessed, retrieved, and
What I'm suggesting is that Internet is like a new country, with a
growing population of millions of well-educated citizens, and that
as such it does not need a highway patrol. However, it will have
to provide itself with a kind of Virtual National Library system
(which could be as dynamic as the world of information) if it
wants to keep track of its own cultural achievements in real time,
and hence be able to advance into the third millennium in full
control of its own potential. It is to be hoped that non-national
institutions (such as UNESCO) may soon be willing to promote and
coordinate such a global service, which is essential in order to
make possible an efficient management of human knowledge on a
Reprinted with permission from the electronic
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