connection

Bookstores and libraries have long played a central role in fostering a deeper appreciation of knowledge, and in lifelong learning. Increasingly, these places are also filling another critical need in our communities, by providing a haven for those seeking a communal connection in an ever-more isolated world.

But, how is this all playing out in our current fractured political climate? We have two guests to discuss this with us this morning. Chris Morrow is owner of Northshire Bookstores in Manchester Center, Vermont and Saratoga Springs, New York and he joins us along with the CEO of the American Booksellers Association – Oren Teicher.


  This Thursday at 4 p.m., The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts presents Women Writing Through Loss: Connecting Through Calamity featuring Dr. Lucy Kalanithi, Rebecca Soffer, and Emily Rapp Black as they read from their work and discuss the power of connection as friends, as writers, as mothers, and as women who forged powerful friendships after experiencing great personal loss, and writing their way out of it.

 

Rebecca Soffer joined us to tell us more.

In her new novel, Touch, author Courtney Maum tells the story of a leading trend forecaster who suddenly finds herself in the position of wanting to overturn her own predictions.

Maum examines the issues of technology, family, and artificial intelligence in a sophisticated and very entertaining way. 

  Jonathan Coulton is a singer-songwriter, fan-cruise operator, public radio one-man-house-band, and internet personality -- if in fact that is still a thing. In 2005 the Yale educated computer programmer, pledged to release one song per week for a year to prove to himself that he could produce creative output to a deadline and to see whether a professional artist could use the Internet and Creative Commons to support himself. A hair more than a decade -- and a good many musical adventures -- later, Coulton is releasing a new full-length album, Solid State, tomorrow on SuperEgo records.

SuperEgo records is Aimee Mann’s label, and Jonathan Coulton is opening for her on tour - in support of the Solid State release and that of her new album, Mental Illness.  When the tour was at The Egg in Albany, NY earlier this week, Coulton came by the studio to talk about the concept album, its companion graphic novel (written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Albert Monteys), NPR’s Ask Me Another, and The Spongebob Musical.

Photograph of a portion of Tanja Hollander's "Are You Really My Friend?" at MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA's Instagram


  How often do you get a friend request on Facebook from someone whose name you don’t recognize? You have mutual friends. You check those names -- and then you aren’t sure exactly who some of those people are either - or how you know them. Imagine telling someone 15 years ago that you have friends you don’t know -- and not in that “a stranger is a just a friend you haven’t met yet” optimistic way.

Tanja Hollander’s new exhibition Are You Really My Friend? is currently on view at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA. The show explores, through portraits and paraphernalia, what friendship means to Tanja and what friendship means today - in the age of social media and easy surface relationships. She set out to connect with and photograph her 626 Facebook friends.

I spoke with Tanja and curator Denise Markonish at the museum recently and began by asking Tanja when and where she had the idea for the project.

  Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and National Humanities Medalist Krista Tippett has interviewed the most extraordinary voices examining the great questions of meaning for our time. The heart of her work on her national public radio program and podcast, On Being, has been to shine a light on people whose insights kindle in us a sense of wonder and courage. 
 
In Becoming Wise, Tippett distills the insights she has gleaned from this luminous conversation in its many dimensions into a coherent narrative journey, over time and from mind to mind.

    A cosmopolitan, by definition, is a “citizen of the universe” — someone who engages with issues across the globe, from politics, to war, to climate change. For example, we listen to WAMC, read the newspaper, check our Facebook pages and act like dutifully connected people.

But the Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, Ethan Zuckerman, argues that we’re living in a state of “imaginary cosmopolitanism.” We expose ourselves to limited kinds of information, particularly that which is already of interest to us or to those closest to us. He confronts this issue in his new book, Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection.