Mixing media was key to solving Mona Lisa mystery! Take that, Xela!

Posted Tuesday, January 15, 2008 10:43 AM by Romo

I used to work with this lady who would get irate over our local library's VHS/DVD collection. She would go on and on about how libraries are about literacy and literacy is about reading and the library should not spend money on non-print media. In the end she would always back herself into some ridiculous corner where she'd decry the value of entertainment and uphold some imagined sanctity of knowledge, and then I'd get her. "Xela," I'd say. "Who decides what knowledge is sophisticated enough to burn taxes on? I mean, the library is full of Tom Clancy novels, and Nora Roberts, and millions of back issues of People magazine. Should they ban that? Is it entertainment or education?!" Sometimes she'd squirm and insist the mere act of reading was mentally stimulating, so such collections would be worthy. Sometimes I'd point out that the library's video holdings included series like Carl Sagan's Cosmos and tapes of theater adaptations of Steinbeck novels, which must certainly be considered enriching material. Overall it was a boring game of devil's advocate for me though, because my adversary refused to engage me in a higher discussion of the role of public institutions, the rationing of and access to literacy in a global marketplace, or the concept of multiliteracies.

But, this post is not going to be a grand rebuttal drawing on those concepts. (If you're interested in such topics though, a good reader on the subject is Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Future. It's a collection edited by Bill Cope and Mary Kalantzis of the New London Group, and it was published by Routledge (New York) in 2000.)

This post, instead, is a fluffy lil bit to bolster my argument that the confluence of multiple mediums can advance our appreciation of the "humanities" or "arts & letters" or what have you (something I'm sure Xela, the stuffy entertainment-hatin' co-worker, would approve of).

I guess the easiest thing to do would be to give you the link to the article I read, and then point out the specific details most salient to my case. The story details how the identity of the model behind the da Vinci's Mona Lisa has finally come to be known more definitively than ever before. Ready? Read up.

"German experts crack Mona Lisa smile"via Reuters

Alright, did you notice how the discovery of the written information was made some time ago, published in the library’s public catalogue, and ignored? Notice how a broadcasting crew recording at the university library was the catalyst for turning this into “news” at least two years after the info was published? Thanks to the flexibility of the library (bastion of written word, right Xela?) one of Western Civilization’s real-life mysteries is illuminated. TV, radio, 400-year old manuscripts, library archives and catalogues, paintings… I say: Mix it up! The more the merrier!



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