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Rocketing the Oddities of the Past Into the Present

11 November 2019

From The Outline:

The problem with the internet is that while it’s great for producing and disseminating new stuff, new stuff is rarely genuinely good or fun or interesting. It’s just new, so we don’t know what to expect, and that process of discovery makes the experience of consuming that new thing good and fun or interesting. But it doesn’t actually mean anything or enrich our lives. Would you rather read this (bad) blog post for the first time or a different, better blog post that you’ve already read read once? Don’t answer that, but you get my point.

Old stuff, which is the opposite of new stuff, also frequently sucks, but at least the passage of time creates a whole new set of ways with which we can engage with that stuff. While the most resonant new stuff often helps us understand and process the way we live now, even the most boring old stuff helps us figure out what life was like when that old thing was made.

. . . .

So what if — and just go with me because we’re about to get a little crazy — there was something on the internet that exclusively published new content… about old things? I’m being somewhat facetious here; this is not a novel concept and there are in fact myriad websites and social media accounts devoted to just this. But the best of these, the one most fully dedicated to the pursuit of resurfacing and recontextualizing, is The Public Domain Review. As its name might suggest, PDR is a publication that focuses on materials that have long outlived any copyright restrictions, specifically curios that have been kicking around long enough to live on past any copyright restrictions and are free to be downloaded, posted, sliced, diced, buried, exhumed, analyzed, and occasionally . . . blanched at.

. . . .

The Public Domain Review specializes in criticism as history, presenting readers with high-quality scans of artwork, archaic books, maps, hand-written journals, as well as early films and audio recordings and photographs — these little bits of ephemeral media that, in part due to the technological limitations of the era in which they were created, engender a real sense of wonder in modern viewers — and placing them in the context of their eras.

Link to the rest at The Outline

PG discovered and was delighted by The Public Domain Review some time ago. If you have not, he recommends it as one of the more interesting online destinations available.

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One Comments to “Rocketing the Oddities of the Past Into the Present”

  1. The problem with the internet is that while it’s great for producing and disseminating new stuff, new stuff is rarely genuinely good or fun or interesting.

    Neither is most stuff anywhere. The problem is with stuff, not the internet.

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