The Page Turner

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As if taking a one-man stand against the alleged decline of bibliophilia in the digital age, Charles Broskoski read 356 books in 400 days, ending his own personal Reading Olympics in early 2008. If that doesn't sound grueling enough to you ADHD types, consider this: the books he perused were a collection of O'Reilly tech-guide e-books downloaded as a single torrent in late 2006: fat tomes with such alluring titles as Linux Device Drivers, XSLT Cookbook, Essential System Administration and ASP.NET in a Nutshell. Conceiving the daunting task as an endurance performance entitled Computer Skills, Broskoski took notes on every book he read, and later posted them to his website in both .txt and .pdf formats. Perhaps inevitably, his notes begin as detailed commentaries, but later devolve into sketchy exasperation and sideways minutia: "the photo for the chapter on DVDs is an image of a title screen for a movie called El Masko" reads one of only three comments Broskoski made in response to Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Second Edition by David Pogue, thumbed through as volume number 212. Last month, for the Parsons School of Design show at the Chelsea Art Museum, Broskoski mounted further physical evidence: 356 physical copies of the books he read, happily donated to the show by the publisher. Seeing the multicolored monolith of paperbacks assembled together makes for a humbling monument to the sheer amount of information available online. Broskoski's super-sized 400-day book-binge, after all, comprises only an infinitesimally small portion of the networked era's ever-expanding universal library. -- Ed Halter


Image: Charles Broskoski, Computer Skills (Notes from Performance), 2008

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