A Long Way from Babel

Posted on 30 January 2009 at 12:21 pm in Coursework.

The moving picture has an enormous power to communicate beyond the mere word, spoken or written. The versatility of the power to combine motion, image, sound, and music has long since exceeded the vision of the Lumière Brothers. One of the most ballyhooed — and profitable — shifts in internet technology was the debut of YouTube and its countless imitators. These services make the sharing of short videos quick and easy for the tech savvy and novice alike.

The following video, available on YouTube, demonstrates that ably: it is a promotional video for the Bibliotheek Amsterdam, the modern public library in the heart of Holland’s greatest city. While the voice-over is entirely in Dutch, the graphic design and editorial choices made by the director makes it easy for any non-speaker to follow — film transcending language. I knew and understood what the video presented without understanding any of the narration. It is a triumph of design.

The video makes clear that the Bibliotheek Amsterdam is a forward-thinking library, ready to use the tools of the 21st century to provide better service to their users. It demonstrates the online tools provided by the library and its slick, modernist website — which is, incidentally, available in both Dutch and English.

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  1. Comment by Emily Ransom on January 30, 2009 at 4:56 pm.

    I like their labyrinth of knowledge image. I watched it with the sound completely off and you’re right, the message was delivered!

  2. Comment by Melvyn on February 1, 2009 at 9:37 am.

    Hey Daniel, that was impressive, great example how libraries are employing viral marketing to inform their constituencies of what they can offer. The video also showed that balance of using new Web 2.0 technologies with what image they want to project that the Bibliotheek Amsterdam is is a place where tradition meets technology and are comfortable side by side. I watched it with the narration off and you are right, you still get the flow of ideas. I watched it with the narration on, and now I can’t get the word “bibliotheek” out of my mind! :)

  3. Comment by Linda C on February 3, 2009 at 7:32 pm.

    I really like the historical flow of your blog from the scrolls of ancient times in Alexandria to reading room in the New York library and the modern bibliotech of Holland. Change and moving with technology can be beneficial, but we can learn from the past.

  4. Comment by admin on February 3, 2009 at 8:27 pm.

    Thanks Linda! That, in a nutshell, is the exact philosophy guiding this blog and shaping my posts.

  5. Comment by Bonnie on February 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm.

    The video is indeed fascinating. I was surprised at how much of the Dutch I could understand! I also very much enjoyed reading your posting on the history of printing and books and so forth. Excellent posts.

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