The Library

The documents below have been slowly collected since the late 90's. Some of them I typed in by hand from much loved original sources, others I simply copied from somewhere online. All of them are here because at the moment I read them, they struck chord within me.

Initially I saved bookmarks to my favourite writings, but over the years I discovered that links don't last. More often then not when I went reread a story, or send a link to a friend, I found that it was no longer available.

Eventually I decided that if I wanted long term access to these writings, I had to keep copies of them myself. It didn't take long to realise that if I was going to do that, I may as well share them with others.

Nearly all documents have been copied without permission and all of them remain under the copyright of the original author. Where I was able I have included attribution to the original author and site.

If any of these writings belong to you, and you would like them removed or the attribution changed, please let me know.

12Next page →

In Praise Of Idleness by Bertrand Russell Source:

I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached.

Aikido In Action by Terry Dobson Source:

At one station the doors opened, and suddenly the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man staggered into our car. He wore laborers clothing, and he was big, drunk, and dirty. Screaming, he swung at a woman holding a baby. The blow sent her spinning into the laps of an elderly couple. It was a miracle that the baby was unharmed.

As We May Think by Vannevar Bush Source: The Atlantic Monthly (Volume 176, No. 1; pages 101-108)

For years inventions have extended man's physical powers rather than the powers of his mind. Trip hammers that multiply the fists, microscopes that sharpen the eye, and engines of destruction and detection are new results, but not the end results, of modern science. Now, says Dr. Bush, instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages. The perfection of these pacific instruments should be the first objective of our scientists as they emerge from their war work.

How To Help Someone Use A Computer by Phil Agre Source: The Network Observer

Computer people are fine human beings, but they do a lot of harm in the ways they “help” other people with their computer problems. Now that we're trying to get everyone online, I thought it might be helpful to write down everything I've been taught about helping people use computers.

A Group is its Own Worst Enemy by Clay Shirky Source:

I want to talk about what I now think is one of the core challenges for designing large-scale social software. Let me offer a definition of social software, because it's a term that's still fairly amorphous. My definition is fairly simple: It's software that supports group interaction. I also want to emphasize, although that's a fairly simple definition, how radical that pattern is.

My Advice to Others Planning to Start an Ecovillage by Lois Arkin Source:

After living in an intentional community for almost 20 years, at times with up to 40 persons, here are the original 10 pieces of advice from 1991 and how I refined the advice in 2005 and again in 2011.

Ship Of Fools by Ted Kaczynski Source: Sacred Fools

Once upon a time, the captain and the mates of a ship grew so vain of their seamanship, so full of hubris and so impressed with themselves, that they went mad. They turned the ship north and sailed until they met with icebergs and dangerous floes, and they kept sailing north into more and more perilous waters, solely in order to give themselves opportunities to perform ever-more-brilliant feats of seamanship.

This is Water by David Foster Wallace Source:

Transcription of David Foster Wallace's 2005 Commencement Address To Keynon College in Ohio. There is an abridged version of this speech which has been turned into a lovely ten minute video which is worth watching.

Marriage and Love by Emma Goldman Source:

Marriage and love have nothing in common; they are as far apart as the poles; are, in fact, antagonistic to each other. No doubt some marriages have been the result of love. Not, however, because love could assert itself only in marriage; much rather is it because few people can completely outgrow a convention.

The Inner Ring by C.S. Lewis Source:

When you invite a middle-aged moralist to address you, I suppose I must conclude, however unlikely the conclusion seems, that you have a taste for middle-aged moralising. I shall do my best to gratify it. I shall in fact, give you advice about the world in which you are going to live.

Valve Handbook for New Employees by Valve Software Source:

Hierarchy is great for maintaining predictability and repeatability. It simplifies planning and makes it easier to control a large group of people from the top down, which is why military organizations rely on it so heavily. But when you’re an entertainment company that’s spent the last decade going out of its way to recruit the most intelligent, innovative, talented people on Earth, telling them to sit at a desk and do what they’re told obliterates 99 percent of their value.

Kick it Over Manifesto by Unknown Source:

We, the undersigned, make this accusation: that you, the teachers of neoclassical economics and the students that you graduate, have perpetuated a gigantic fraud up the world.

Guerilla Open Access Manifesto by Aaron Swartz Source:

Information is power. But like all power, there are those who want to keep it for themselves. The world’s entire scientific and cultural heritage, published over centuries in books and journals, is increasingly being digitized and locked up by a handful of private corporations.

What The Living Do by Marie Howe Source:

I've been thinking, this is what the living do.

The Tyranny of Structurelessness by Jo Freeman Source:

During the years in which the women's liberation movement has been taking shape, a great emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless groups as the main – if not sole – organizational form of the movement. The idea of “structurelessness,” however, has moved from a healthy counter to those tendencies to becoming a goddess in its own right.

Anatol Rapoport's Rules for Critical Response by Daniel Dennet Source:

The best antidote I know for this tendency to caricature one's opponent is a list of rules promulgated many years ago by social psychologist and game theorist Anatol Rapoport.

Dark Night: The Breakdown of the Mythology of Me by Jeannie Zandi Source:

Few issues can be brought to psychotherapy that better straddle the worlds of spiritual teachings and psychology than the dark night of the soul. This experience heralds the breakdown of the mythology of “me” and thus initiates an intense, comprehensive and life-changing spiritual crisis like no other.

Absolutely Clear by Hāfez Source:

No matter where you go or who you attempt to connect with, the gnawing loneliness persists. This is good! You are being weaned off of external distractions and temporary solutions for this predicament so that you can face it full-on and burn through it to the sense of unconditional love. There is no master better than Hafiz for explaining exactly how to meet this particular aspect of the dark night.

Keynote Address at the "Eleventh World Conference on Gifted and Talented Children" by Linda Kreger Source:

Gifted children and adults feel cut off from the rest of society—out of sync. Gifted people often wear many hats and try to juggle more than is humanly possible. All of it seems interesting and worth doing…if only there was an infinite amount of time.

Logical Rudeness by Peter Suber Source:

In each of these cases something has gone wrong with the process of debate. In his self-insulating replies Grobian has raised the ire of more open and more dogged inquirers. We are put off, perhaps indignant or angry. What's more, we feel justified in taking offense.

The Price of Doing Professional Work by F. Scott Fitzgerald Source:

Eager to gain some feedback on her work, aspiring young author and Radcliffe sophomore Frances Turnbull sent a copy of her latest story to celebrated novelist and friend of the family, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Before long the feedback arrived, in the form of the somewhat harsh but admirably honest reply seen below.

Food And Permaculture by David Blume Source:

On approximately two acres—half of which was on a terraced 35 degree slope—I produced enough food to feed more than 300 people (with a peak of 450 people at one point), 49 weeks a year in my fully organic CSA on the edge of Silicon Valley.

The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono Source:

The war over, I found myself possessed of a tiny demobilisation bonus and a large desire to breathe fresh air for a while. It was with no other objective that I again took the road to the barren lands.

They're Made Out of Meat? by Terry Bisson Source:

Yes, thinking meat! Conscious meat! Loving meat. Dreaming meat. The meat is the whole deal! Are you beginning to get the picture or do I have to start all over?

12Next page →

this is a copy, copyright remains with the original author.