Information Age Shouldn’t Limit Access

Dear Editor,

The disabled John Milton (he was blind when he wrote Paradise Lost) wrote, “A good book is the life blood of a master spirit.” Yet Vice Provost for Academic Planning Dan Greenstein said, “A book is now a body of information that can be presented many different ways.”

I bought 60 books at Wahrenbrock’s downtown bookstore last weekend because Chuck Valverde died. But the store’s doors will close forever next weekend, as the book market is becoming increasingly technology-driven.

UC Press Associate Director for Development Erin Marietta said, “The press’s reaction to the current business climate includes plans to provide more digitalized books, expand its production of multimedia and continue to utilize online resources such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and e-newsletters.”

But where do you turn when a photo-sharing Web site closes unexpectedly and with it go your pictures? A recent attempt by Facebook to change the terms of use for all users by shifting ownership of all content on Facebook to the company — with no warning and no recourse — offers an example of the risks associated with moving data or to cloud providers.

Garcia Lorca was “a master spirit.” In addition to being a painter and a poet, he was a cineaste, a pianist, an arranger of traditional Andalician song harmonies. He and his troupe, La Barraca, popularized plays by Lope de Vega among the Chilean and Spanish masses. Between 1929 and 1935, Garcia Lorca went on a tour similar to that of the Rolling Stones (my generation) or the Counting Crows (your generation) — only it was a book tour throughout Europe and the United States, Mexico, Canada, Cuba and Argentina. But in August 1936, when the Fascists entered Granada (Garcia Lorca was born in Fuente Vaueiros, Granada, Spain in 1899), they found him there and shot him.

They also burned his books in the Plaza del Carmen.

It’s happening here today, too. The librarian has already limited access to the computers in the humanities division of Geisel Library. Moreover, bookmark-sized materials distributed by the librarian emphasize the county-wide consortium — including UCSD and San Diego State — that has drastically reduced public access in recent weeks, making it look as if Microsoft was behind the no-freebies-for-the-public policy change. Obviously, the students forced out because they can’t meet graduation requirements or lack resources will become “alumni,” but that doesn’t mean they’ll be ineligible for Personal Identification Numbers.

When I asked the Geisel Library newspaper room supervisor why public access had been restricted to just three computers, she said Microsoft was in charge. It is the vendors’ call from here on in, according to the US Supreme Court.

—Richard Thompson

UCSD Alumnus ‘83

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