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Worst Librarian in the Galaxy
January 6, 2011 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Jocasta Nu may be a Jedi, but she's not much of a librarian.
posted by Horace Rumpole (35 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
...incredibly old-fashioned approach to the electronic library with shelves upon shelves of what appeared to be e-books and very few computer terminals. ... Now I know this all happened in a galaxy far away a long time ago, but we are clearly meant to accept this as a space-age library.

The future will be exactly like the latest fad.
posted by DU at 7:13 AM on January 6, 2011


To be fair, Star Wars isn't really sci-fi any more than Wagon Train In Space Star Trek is, and can't be expected to speculate on how technologically advanced societies would structure their information resources. It's a jolly yarn of swashbuckling adventure, and thus should look like some hybrid of mediaeval Europe and samurai Japan, with a comforting ol' slice of Middle America underneath it all, only with lasers, spaceships and robots.
posted by acb at 7:14 AM on January 6, 2011 [7 favorites]


Obligatory.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:19 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why do I always feel like scifi fans would be Young Earthers is they read the bible more?

The problem of representations of computer databases, and computer programming, in visual medium is that they're inherently boring. Without shelves it wouldn't look like much, there would be no tour, there would be no point. Similarly, without huge and weird representations of data as visual and malevolent, movies about hacking or programming would look like tours of a cube farm.

Stop being an idiot literalist.
posted by OmieWise at 7:22 AM on January 6, 2011 [13 favorites]


*if they read the Bible more...
posted by OmieWise at 7:23 AM on January 6, 2011


Psst, OmieWise--I don't think he's really mad.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:26 AM on January 6, 2011


It's a story about wizards and spaceships that make sound in space. It's not meant to be realistic. Anyway, I doubt those are ebooks on the shelves - given the amount of data the library is supposed to hold, I always assumed they were hard drives, arranged on shelves for easy access for repair/replacement/expansion.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


It should be said though in Jocasta’s defence, the main reason for the remote access ban is because of ‘the Dark Side of the Force’ and their attempts to corrupt and alter data held in the Archives which on one occasion included the removal of information about an entire planet (Kamino – nope I hadn’t heard of it either). So maybe we’ll let her off this particular draconian measure.

Hadn't heard of it... because the Dark Side erased it from the Space-Atlas! Those DICKS!

Seriously, was that evil plan to hax0r a cosmic gmaps page put together by the Dark Side's version of Anon?
posted by FatherDagon at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


We're talking about the un-futuristic libraries in a franchise where people dress in monkish robes and fight with swords?
posted by philipy at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


> I’ve just found out that librarian Jocasta was eventually killed by the young Darth Vader himself for not providing the information he wanted...

So this library "houses Jedi secrets that must be guarded at all times" and contains "More knowledge than anywhere else in the galaxy," but the Council of First Knowledge couldn't bring itself to spring for a security guard? More poor planning.

> librarian Jocasta was eventually killed by the young Darth Vader himself for not providing the information he wanted

If patrons should shoot lasers with their eyes I'd be dead by now, too.

"What do you mean, all of the children's books about porcupines are signed out?!?"
"Well, ma'am, there are twenty other kids doing the same project, and it's due tomorrow, and..."
*ZAP*
"*gurgle*"

> Now I know this all happened in a galaxy far away a long time ago, but we are clearly meant to accept this as a space-age library...

It's not as bad as A.I.'s futuristic vision of the internet.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:34 AM on January 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


So, Nu?
posted by The Bellman at 7:37 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, it can't be that hard to come up with an interesting representation of a research centre that gives us cues it is a library, and yet doesn't just show a large empty building with stacks.

Of course, the whole flavour of SW, and the Jedis, is that they are archaic. The style of the films has long shown Jedi as somewhat medieval. So it could follow that flourishes like a library design would reflect this.

Still, one could easily imagine a more appropriate set for the level of tech we see used casually through-out the film.

Actually, an entire boring essay could be written that describes how SW is about the corrupting influence of modernism, and how the Dark Side is all about rejecting the True Jedi Way as anachronistic and cutely old-fashioned. All while the True Jedi Way is the maintenance of asceticism, ritual and history.

Gods, I'm fucking tired of Star Wars. This is my problem, I know. But still. Fucking. Tired.
posted by clvrmnky at 7:44 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not as bad as A.I.'s futuristic vision of the internet.

Actually, I've always thought that was the most plausible guess at the future of the 'net that I've seen. We're already getting to the stage where the amount of information online (in width, if not in depth) is far beyond most people's ability to find, read and make sense of everything relevant to their question. The rise in people pushing for good use of metadata -- and universal standards for that metadata -- is a consequence of this, and intended to make it easier for machines to present us with sensibly collated data from a wide range of sources. This seems to be a big part of what Wolfram|Alpha is intended to do: access tagged data sets from all over the 'net, then collate and manipulate that information in response to users' requests.

In a world where useful artificial intelligence is possible (even if it's just a convincing zombie), I think that a friendly librarian figure makes a much more sensible front-end for the internet (or, at least, a search engine) than glowing symbols flashing across a screen, flying through some VR neon cityscape, or whatever.

We're talking about the un-futuristic libraries in a franchise where people dress in monkish robes and fight with swords?
It's much more than that! They're wizards in space robes, with space swords!
posted by metaBugs at 8:03 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


> I think that a friendly librarian figure makes a much more sensible front-end for the internet...

Fair enough, but when I watched that scene I thought "It's Clippy, and now he's self-aware!"

> After she was confirmed dead, her body was most likely dragged out onto the steps of the public entrance of the Temple and thrown on the makeshift pyre with all of her fallen comrades.

In the biz we call this an "MLIS funeral."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:11 AM on January 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fair enough, but when I watched that scene I thought "It's Clippy, and now he's self-aware!"
OK. Put like that, we have a violent and terrible future ahead of us.
posted by metaBugs at 8:15 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but when I watched that scene I thought "It's Clippy, and now he's self-aware!"

Think 'AskJeeves for Kids', and it's spot-on.
posted by FatherDagon at 8:16 AM on January 6, 2011


I have similar problems with the punch clock system in The Flintstones.
posted by condour75 at 8:19 AM on January 6, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's my hope for all Star Wars fans that one day they will realize that only the main plotlines and characters have any significance in the metaphorical tales Lucas was trying (however heavy handedly) to put forth, and that getting off in the weeds of the hundreds of ancillary characters and set pieces is like rooting around in a garbage bin for week old doughnuts.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:25 AM on January 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


where people dress in monkish robes and fight with swords?

So it's a weird dress code. Looks like they have their own version of the UBS style guide.

I'm fucking tired of Star Wars. This is my problem, I know. But still. Fucking. Tired.

I too am worn out. The only gripe I have left is that the Star Wars universe could have been amzing. It didn't have to turn out to be this asinine.
posted by chambers at 8:44 AM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


like rooting around in a garbage bin for week old doughnuts.

I think you mean "like rooting around a garbage masher on the detention level"
posted by Riptor at 9:20 AM on January 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Please stop.
posted by Legomancer at 9:59 AM on January 6, 2011


I think that a friendly librarian figure makes a much more sensible front-end for the internet

I haven't seen AI, but I think Snow Crash does this pretty well. Hiro ends up with an anthropomorphized research assistant to help him sort and evaluate data.

And his library, to move back toward the original topic, is an extra "room" in his virtual "house," which I *think* is contained in his own minimal computer he carries around, though it might have been stored online; I don't remember if it wasn't clear or if I'm just not recalling details. I thought the overall description of the interface was pretty good.
posted by galadriel at 10:35 AM on January 6, 2011


There's no incentive to be a great librarian when you can just wave a hand and say "These are not the books you seek."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:27 AM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


To be fair, Star Wars isn't really sci-fi any more than Wagon Train In Space Star Trek is, and can't be expected to speculate on how technologically advanced societies would structure their information resources...

Wait, why can't it be expected? "We're not trying very hard" is a reasonable excuse?

It's lazy filmmaking, OR the filmmakers think the audience is too stupid to understand how a library could be anything other than a huge physical structure.
posted by Brocktoon at 12:03 PM on January 6, 2011


Anyway, a true Jedi librarian would have supernatural powers of memory and recall and would be able to both memorize vast amounts of resources and then transfer them to the mind of the library patrons.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:13 PM on January 6, 2011


I always liked the OC Bible from Dune, which for a novel being written in 1965, is pretty impressive in its assumptions about far future tech. The OC Bible is just an extremely analog equivalent of a Micro SD card, which makes a lot of sense in that universe since "thinking machines" are outlawed.

Now if only we could get a decent adaptation of the Dune series and dethrone SW from it's ill-gotten place in geeks' hearts.
posted by jnrussell at 12:29 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


a franchise where people dress in monkish robes and fight with swords?

You know what well and truly monkey-wrenched any enjoyment I could still wring from the prequels?

The observation in the red letter media review of revenge of the sith that pointed out all the jedi dress like they're from tatooine.

Goddamnit.
posted by flaterik at 2:07 PM on January 6, 2011


Anyway, a true Jedi librarian would have supernatural powers of memory and recall and would be able to both memorize vast amounts of resources and then transfer them to the mind of the library patrons.
This is to me the greatest lack of vision in the Star Wars universe: The Force is useful (apparently) only to manipulate the physical world, or to manipulate other people's minds. It doesn't come with anything intellectually useful.

Wait, why can't it be expected? "We're not trying very hard" is a reasonable excuse?
It's lazy filmmaking...

Of course it is. 99% of movies exist to make a buck, and Star Wars is no exception. Those who want more should probably make it themselves (but by the time it reaches production, you'll be lucky if it's only as inane as Star Wars.)
posted by coolguymichael at 2:13 PM on January 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's an anti-Star Wars backlash now? Well, looks like it's time to side with the Warsies.

You're all haters, loose constructionists.
posted by Apocryphon at 2:47 PM on January 6, 2011


Not so much anti-Star Wars for me, just pro Anything Else. I don't hate Star Wars at all. In fact, I enjoy it, and always will enjoy it. I just don't think it still deserves all the attention it gets.
posted by jnrussell at 3:35 PM on January 6, 2011


I think the author of the blog post is missing the "fashion" in "old-fashioned." Design choices aren't just about function or what's most efficient/modern. We often choose things -- clothes, furniture, transportation devices -- that aren't optimally functional, based on aesthetics or cultural values.

In the case of Jedi, we're talking about a culture that venerates tradition and their ancient ways, and particularly eschews the easy path. ("Is the dark side stronger?" "No. Quicker. Easier.") Given that their aesthetic is deliberately old-fashioned, why wouldn't they design a library -- a repository of the very history they value -- that reflected their sensibilities?

If anything, it's the Sith that would go in for hyper-modern information systems!
posted by Pants McCracky at 3:40 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's lazy filmmaking, OR the filmmakers think the audience is too stupid to understand how a library could be anything other than a huge physical structure.

The alternative is cutting off the (not insignificant) proportion of the audience who are too stupid to understand this, as well as those who want a bit of fantastic escapist entertainment and not to be forced to digest ideas about how highly advanced civilisations differ from what they're familiar with. Which, for a Hollywood blockbuster, is not a winning proposition.
posted by acb at 3:52 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


getting off in the weeds of the hundreds of ancillary characters and set pieces is like rooting around in a garbage bin for week old doughnuts.

It's EXACTLY like that! Because sometimes it's filthy and smelly, but other times... hey, doughnuts!
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 5:52 PM on January 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So this library "houses Jedi secrets that must be guarded at all times" and contains "More knowledge than anywhere else in the galaxy," but the Council of First Knowledge couldn't bring itself to spring for a security guard? More poor planning.


To be fair, the librarian was a Jedi.

The access restrictions the OP's article brings up can be easily explained though, especially during a time of war and unrest. It houses secrets and important knowledge, it must always be guarded. Letting just anyone into this type of library strikes me as roughly equivalent to letting Joe Sixpack peruse the acres of DNA files in the basement of the Pentagon. That's why those files are guarded, and access only allowed to Agent Mulder and the Cigarette Smoking Man, and occassionally A.D. Skinner.
posted by IvoShandor at 11:31 PM on January 6, 2011


I just feel--no, I know--that one day, after we've mastered interstellar travel, one of the planets we commandeer or terraform will be given to Star Wars fans as a museum/tourist attraction. And this library will be there.

I know this because that planet would make a lot of money.
posted by not_on_display at 9:47 AM on January 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


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