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Librarians are Prestidigiterians


I was reading the Rex Stout novel (League of Frightened Men, with Nero Wolfe) and came across this wonderful, and largely forgotten, word: prestidigitation (see also Word of the Day a few years ago.)

Isn’t this what a lot of us do, especially “digital” librarians (without the deceit, of course)?

Those ones and zeros are powerful things (or perhaps they are utter nothingness or naught-iness)

The word prestigitation also reminds me of this Douglas Adams (of Hitchhiker’s Guide fame) quotation, and who credits computer scientist Bran Ferren with the idea: “technology is stuff that doesn’t work yet. We no longer think of chairs as technology, we just think of them as chairs. But there was a time when we hadn’t worked out how many legs chairs should have, how tall they should be, and they would often ‘crash’ when we tried to use them.”

(It might make a good domain name, prestidigitation, except no one would ever be able to spell it or find it, the ultimate digital disappearing act.)

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