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Great Barrington Editions: W E B Du Bois

Great Barrington Editions: W E B Du Bois2024-02-04T08:20:57-05:00

W E B Du Bois: The Great Barrington Editions 2022

Berkshire Publishing Group was founded in Great Barrington, the small western Massachusetts town where Du Bois was born and educated. He wrote eloquently about the town and its people, and he is remembered today as the most influential graduate of the town’s schools. In 2022, we are proud to announce these new editions of two books that open with stories from his childhood in Great Barrington.


The Souls of Black Folk is a founding text of the civil rights movement, a command performance by a young man committed to liberty and justice for all.


The first edition of Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois arranged in accordance with the great Black activist’s own notes, refreshingly personal and timely.

“Du Bois is the brook of fire through which we all must pass in order to gain access to the intellectual and political weaponry needed to sustain the radical democratic tradition in our time.” —The African American Century, edited by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Cornel West

W E B Du Bois in Great Barrington

Berkshire Publishing Group was founded in Great Barrington, the small western Massachusetts town where Du Bois was born and educated. He wrote eloquently about the town and its people, and he is remembered today as the most influential graduate of the town’s schools.

Because he became a Communist, his legacy has been a source of conflict in the town, but after many years of debate there is now a W. E. B. Du Bois Middle School. There are signs on roads leading into the town saying, “Birthplace of W. E. B. Du Bois.” And in 2022, over 150 years after Du Bois was born in Great Barrington, his granddaughter was laid to rest in the Mahaiwe Cemetery after a memorial service attended by state and local leaders.

The Great Barrington Editions

The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois opens with these words:

I was born by a golden river and in the shadow of two great hills, five years after the Emancipation Proclamation which began the freeing of American Negro Slaves.

The Souls of Black Folk opens in Great Barrington, with a story of Du Bois’s first experience of what he called “the veil” between the races that took place in a wooden schoolhouse that stood across Main Street from Great Barrington Town Hall.

Du Bois wrote eloquently about his childhood in Great Barrington:

From early years, I attended the town meeting every Spring and in the upper room in that little red brick Town Hall, fronted by a Roman “victory” commemorating the Civil War, I listened to the citizens discuss things about which I knew and had opinions: streets and bridges and schools, and particularly the high school, an institution comparatively new. We had in the town several picturesque hermits, usually retrograde Americans of old families. There was Crosby, the gunsmith, who lived in a lovely dale with brook, waterfall and water wheel. He was a frightful apparition but we boys often ventured to visit him. Particularly there was Beartown Beebe, who came from forest fastnesses which I never penetrated. He was a particularly dirty, ragged, fat old man, who used to come down regularly from his rocks and woods and denounce high school education and expense.
I was 13 or 14 years of age and a student in the small high school with two teachers and perhaps 25 pupils. The high school was not too popular in this rural part of New England and received from the town a much too small appropriation. But the thing that exasperated me was that every Spring at Town Meeting, which I religiously attended, this huge, ragged old man came down from the hills and for an hour or more reviled the high school and demanded its discontinuance.
I remember distinctly how furious I used to get at the stolid town folk, who sat and listened to him. He was nothing and nobody. Yet the town heard him gravely because he was a citizen and property-holder on a small scale and when he was through, they calmly voted the usual funds for the high school. Gradually as I grew up, I began to see that this was the essence of democracy: listening to the other man’s opinion and then voting your own, honestly and intelligently.

Du Bois’s granddaughter was buried in the Mahaiwe Cemetery in 2022, and the small Black church that “Willie” Du Bois attended and wrote about as a teenager is being developed as an educational and cultural center.

Berkshire Publishing is delighted to make his most accessible and relevant books available in new editions, including his Autobiography rearranged, for the first time, in accordance with Du Bois’s instructions and also available for the first time as an ebook. The “Great Barrington Editions” will include The Autobiography of W. E. B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk, the landmark text of the civil rights movement, and Du Bois’s first novel, The Quest of the Silver Fleece, a grand, sweeping African American saga: Gone with the Wind meets The Scarlet Letter. We have added illustrations, but avoided the excessive appendices and scholarly additions that crowd many reprinted classics. Our editions have a clean, open layout designed to be read, dipped into, and enjoyed.

The film below comes from a Chinese documentary about the welcome given to W. E. B. Du Bois and his wife Shirley Graham when they visited Beijing in 1959, after the US government restored his passport and he was again allowed to travel. These clips show Du Bois speaking at a 91st birthday celebration at Peking University; driving through Shanghai; meeting with Song Qingling, Anna Louise Strong, and Chairman Mao Zedong.The trip was sponsored by the China Peace Committee and the Chinese People’s Association for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries.

From the “Publisher’s Note” in the Great Barrington edition

I first thought of publishing a new edition of Du Bois’s autobiography during the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, as BLM signs went up around Great Barrington and a crowd of thousands gathered around the town hall he’d known as a boy.

I had been hearing Du Bois’s story for years, at events and over the dinner table, and even published a volume based on his teenage writings about a little church in Great Barrington. I’ve talked about him with many people, including Thomas Bender, a leading scholar of transnational history at New York University, who pointed out that Du Bois’s Harvard dissertation on the Atlantic slave trade was one of the first works of transnational history.

I was familiar with this much-quoted line, “I was born by a golden river in the shadow of two great hills,” and thought of it often because my study window looks across the Housatonic Valley to those two hills.

But when I picked up a copy of the 1968 US edition, I was startled to find that that line, so obviously the opening of an autobiography, did not appear until Chapter 6. Instead, the book opened with a series of chapters about Du Bois’s travels and communist beliefs at the end of his life. How strange, I thought.

I knew Du Bois had been a prolific writer and that he had been active in the world, occupied with political activities, editing, and organizing. Many of his books, including his groundbreaking 1903 The Souls of Black Folk, were put together in haste, compiled from pieces of journalism. Could this book, too, have been assembled hastily?

Over the years, we’ve covered local issues related to Du Bois, and Karen Christensen actually interviewed the man who was said t to be leading the anonymous campaign against the “birthplace of” signs: “He tried to brush me off, but I ended up talking to him for an hour. Here are a few quotes from my notes about the conversation: Du Bois was ‘a bright young man’ who got a ‘free education,’ ‘provided by donations.’ He might have come back to ‘see the fall foliage, but he didn’t do a damned thing for Great Barrington’ and ‘was a socialist for many years.’” But the controversy over Du Bois’s legacy began not long after his death in 1963. Historian Amy Bass wrote a book about it, Those About Him Remained Silent: The Battle over W. E. B. Du Bois,” which covers the early battle as well as the later one over the signs and the naming of the newly built middle school.

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Library drill team

January 6th, 2006|

I didn't see it, but apparently a drill team competition is quite the draw at ALA. Marcy just found these photos from the Marin County Free Library Drill Team--these librarians

Berkshire bloggers

January 10th, 2006|

I love the chance to write about things that catch my eye, without worrying about how they fit into a book, but the point of this blog is really to

The end of cyberspace

January 13th, 2006|

We have a remarkable board of advisors. The one whose opening line still makes me smile is Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. "We've obviously been living in parallel universes," he said. He

A Pattern Language

January 13th, 2006|

Yesterday Karen and I discovered we share a passion for Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language. What's your favorite?, she asked me, and I immediately thought of the teenager's separate living

Homeless in paradise

January 17th, 2006|

Homelessness isn't evident at home in Great Barrington the way it is here in southern California. We're in Santa Barbara, where homeless people are everywhere--or so it seems to us,

A place to call home

January 18th, 2006|

Back to the theme of homelessness. There was a time when I, a young single mother, worried about becoming homeless. Now, I find myself in the odd position of not

Prison libraries

January 21st, 2006|

We're at ALA in San Antonio, handing out buttons that say, "Libraries make the world a better place." These go with our book project, The Libraries We Love (and nominations

Accolades to guide us

January 23rd, 2006|

Publishing is a quiet business. We labor to create books and databases that people will use in libraries and at their desks at home or in a dorm room. We

Goodies for Good People

January 26th, 2006|

Before Berkshire Publishing began exhibiting at the American Library Association (ALA) conference last year, Berkshire folks attended a conference as visitors to get "the lay of the land." We were

Bright lights

January 27th, 2006|

Small town Great Barrington doesn't offer a lot in the way of sparkling events, so I was glad to receive an invitation to an eco fashion party in New York

Small town doings

January 29th, 2006|

After the SIIA Content Summit in New York on Tuesday and Wednesday, I'm looking forward to having most of February at home in Great Barrington. I had flu last time

SIIA gets better

February 1st, 2006|

Already today's better. The sun is shining. A guy from Yahoo! had some real stuff to say (and there were questions). And the nice Hispanic woman in the ladies' room

Anthropologist to the rescue

February 2nd, 2006|

In her Wednesday column in the New York Times the hot redhead Maureen Dowd opened by suggesting that the White House hire an anthropologist. I am an anthropologist. I've offered

Pouncing online

February 2nd, 2006|

I'm fascinated by Internet metaphors. I'd heard about drama llamas and sad pandas (my son called me once because his sister IMed that I was a sad panda), but today

Who’s blogging, 2006

February 3rd, 2006|

If you're a regular reader, you probably realize that I did not join the US Army in 1966. That was David Levinson, who spent his Army career working in a

Writing softball history

February 4th, 2006|

I was trying to find something about the Canadian badminton player with whom I share a name, and instead found myself quoted about the history of softball on the International

Good content will triumph

February 7th, 2006|

Interesting comments from the famous Davos conference about how to start a 'new media empire. My ears perked up when I saw the headline. Hm, media empire? My little operation

Deluged in Great Barrington

February 13th, 2006|

We're deluged but, no, not with snow. The big blizzard skirted the Berkshires. It's beautifully wintry here, and everyone got to work but Joe, who happened to have gone to

A Valentine for America?

February 14th, 2006|

Love is in the air! Not only is this the closing day for Libraries We Love nominations, but it's the launch of a website we've created to gather information about

Mao & me?

February 17th, 2006|

The collegiality and friendship of our authors is the heart of the work we do, and all of us relish our contacts with people all over the world. They make

What are e-books good for?

February 19th, 2006|

Interesting article, from way back in 2004, about e-books and how they can coexist quite happily with print books: "Ebooks: Neither E, Nor Books" by Cory Doctorow.

Google isn’t perfect

February 24th, 2006|

On the mantelpiece in my office (yes, dear reader, I have a fireplace in my office: one advantage of life in a building that I've heard described as "like something

Streaming radio for dummy

February 26th, 2006|

I'm feeling dumb. In a midwinter craving for music, I first discovered the wonders (and dangers) of buying via iTunes. Then--quite a few downloads later, with today being, somehow, a

Jolly curlers

February 27th, 2006|

I'm on the losing side, it seems, when it comes to deciding whether Berkshire Publishing should be skipping and hacking. Liz Steffey, our intrepid squash-playing China EA, has already enlisted

Jon Stewart as Enabler?

February 28th, 2006|

First off, let me say that I adore Jon Stewart. My life is truly richer since we broke down and ordered a satellite package that would bring him back into

Slightly Foxed

March 3rd, 2006|

Every once in a while something comes along that reminds me how much I love books. My last copy of the Literary Review came with a flyer about a new

A perfect day in London

March 4th, 2006|

I spend yesterday either talking about networks and connections or experiencing them in rather amazing ways. Because I lived in London in my twenties, the connections I find here are

My first London Book Fair

March 6th, 2006|

The new London Book Fair location, far in the east of London in an area called Docklands (because that's what it was), is a disappointment. Poor directions, few people on

Experiments in progress

March 12th, 2006|

Only minutes after my last post, it started snowing. But it's warmed up now and there really is a feeling of spring in the air, shoots coming up, and even

Debunking urban legends

March 16th, 2006|

One of the subjects that comes up all the time in an enterprise like ours, where we take the work of people who spend their lives studying and writing about

En route to Kazakhstan

March 17th, 2006|

En route to Kazakhstan, originally uploaded by KarenChristensen. Some of our friends were worried about our trip to Central Asia in April 2001, so we decided to tease them by

The dangers of technology

March 23rd, 2006|

Blogging is dangerous. In January I was in New York for a two-day conference run by an organization I had just joined, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA). I

A Novel Way into History

March 28th, 2006|

Marcy Ross writes: My wonderful local library, The Roeliff Jansen Community Library, wanted to begin a book group last fall. To start the group, they'd already approached my neighbor

Waking up to global warming

March 30th, 2006|

From the Worldwatch Institute this week: "In a remarkable shift with far-reaching policy implications, prominent U.S. news organizations are declaring the debate on climate change '"over.' This week's cover story

A taste of spring

March 31st, 2006|

I've heard a joke about the seasons in Vermont, that there's winter and the Fourth of July. But the end of March has been balmy and everyone's enjoying it (global

First jobs of spring

April 1st, 2006|

Two important things accomplished today: Two garden beds prepped and planted--thanks to Tom and Rachel, who have taken to lecturing me on global warming and the wastefulness of grainfed meat--with

Goo-da April Fool’s

April 2nd, 2006|

Google can do anything. I guess that's what our readers believe, since almost no one has caught my April Fool's joke in our e-newsletter. Marcy says I should have added

Hop Stop

April 4th, 2006|

Just as there are reasons we grab a fast-food meal instead of making lentil soup or a vegetable stir-fry, there are reasons we jump into the car instead of using

Big domains that matter

April 6th, 2006|

There's so much going on right now that it's hard to know where to begin. "We are starting," I said this evening, "four businesses at once." But it makes sense,

My Chinese name

April 7th, 2006|

Liz Steffey, assistant for China projects, was concerned when she looked at my Chinese business card, produced before a trip to China in 2002 by a company that does such

Spring is sprung

April 11th, 2006|

Well, maybe. Fingers crossed. After thinking nothing but China China China, it occurs to me to look out my window at Town Hall and remember just where on the planet

The libraries we love

April 13th, 2006|

One librarian jumped up and down with joy when she heard that her library would be included in our book, Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love. And all

Off the beaten track

April 15th, 2006|

I met Javier Diaz Reynoso when I was 16 and visiting my cousin Cheryl, who was studying in Guadalajara, Mexico. We reconnected 25 years later, after Cheryl died, and he

An Easter basket in China

April 17th, 2006|

Before we dive into the post-Easter period of burgeoning springtime, I feel I should record the fact that five years ago we spent Easter in China, in Dunhuang, a town

Hu would have thought?

April 19th, 2006|

We've been planning a China newsletter for two years. We started working in earnest in October, and at first planned to launch in February. Now we've got issue one at

Mary Pope Osborne

April 28th, 2006|

No wonder I haven't seen our neighbor Mary Pope Osborne around. According to Publishers Weekly, she's on the second half of a spring book tour and in Greensboro, NC, "the

Rain gardens 101

May 6th, 2006|

I've been browsing for rainbarrels, thinking of ways we might make it easier to keep all the vegetable and flower beds watered this summer. The barrels themselves seem easy, and

Love Us, Hate Us Hits Home

May 15th, 2006|

I'm having fun adding famous quotes to Berkshire's Love Us, Hate Us: What the World Thinks of America. After seeing the Scottish comedian Billy Connolly on The Daily Show, I

June 2nd, 2006|

A regional paper spotted one of our projects and made it the Valley Advocate's "Website of the Week". They chose to quote one of the wacky comments but there are

Beautiful books

June 5th, 2006|

I have never had enough time to read. This is a comforting thought, oddly enough, because I often feel guilty because I'm not reading as much as I want to--or

Do librarians love books?

June 8th, 2006|

I read a startling anecdote on The Good Library Blog from the well-known British novelist Susan Hill (who is also active, amazingly, in the blogosphere). Public librarians in Britain can't

Print-on-demand is not publishing

June 8th, 2006|

While it's always great to see references to local institutions in the national press, this article, "More Booksellers Turn to Publishing," in Publishers Weekly worries me. Print-on-demand is not publishing!

Quoted in the New Yorker

June 13th, 2006|

I hadn't read the article I mentioned earlier today, saving it to read at home tonight (I've got a job here, and it's over 7000 words). So my sister-in-law got

A symphony of blogs

June 27th, 2006|

English has an amazing variety of collective nouns and many specific usages, including a sleuth of bears and a murder of crows (though I sometimes wonder if the linguists are

Thinking locally

June 28th, 2006|

There's nowhere on earth I'd rather be this evening. I'm sitting on the deck, listening to birds (and the occasional car) and looking at my garden. From here, I can't

This year’s summer interns

June 30th, 2006|

About this time every year the papers run articles about the pros and cons the cultural manifestation called "the internship." In theory, having some extra help in the summer makes


July 1st, 2006|

I'm experimenting with a new blog writing software, recommended by a fellow in Minnesota called Griff Wigley who wrote about my blogging a couple weeks ago and then wrote to

Summer on the Hill

July 5th, 2006|

There are two Hills in my life. One is the urban ghetto called "The Hill" in the 1980s TV program Hill Street Blues , which David and I have been

Synchronicity online

July 7th, 2006|

World historians talk about synchronism: the ways developments in different places or cultures sometimes harmonize, without a causal relationship. Jung explained sychronicity as the result of a collective unconsciousness, and

A note from Osama

July 8th, 2006|

From the Washington Times: "At a Chicago news conference, Bush called "incorrect" a report this week that the CIA had disbanded the unit set up to track the Saudi dissident.

Guest editor for Against the Grain

July 16th, 2006|

Katina Strauch, the clever and iconoclastic creator of both Against the Grain, a popular library journal, and the internationally renowned Charleston Conference (I know it's renowned because people in Europe

Looking for a leader

July 19th, 2006|

Naturally, we're talking about global politics. Most of the staff at Berkshire is under 30, which lends a fresh perspective to the discussion. This morning Liz (Steffey), who works on

The importance of trust

July 20th, 2006|

I'm on my way to New York for meetings about Global Perspectives on the United States and Guanxi: The China Letter. These are my two main projects these days, along

Preparing for Wikimania

July 23rd, 2006|

It rained most of the day on Saturday and was cloudy until the evening on Sunday. A perfect weekend for reading and ironing and catching up at home. I also

Science and serendipity

July 25th, 2006|

When I was in New York last Thursday, I went to a dinner hosted by Marty Edelston, owner and publisher of Boardroom Inc., a company that with great success publishes

Sin and sustainability

July 27th, 2006|

Here's a remarkable perspective, brought to my attention by Tom. The Church of England has declared that "It's a sin to fly. "Claire Foster, the church's environment policy director, said:

Becoming interdisciplinary

August 1st, 2006|

I've been writing lately about interdisciplinary thinking and scholarship, and the first article, "Becoming Interdisciplinary: A publisher's perspective," is published today in the August issue of YBP's online magazine, Academia.

Who me, an adventurous woman?

August 2nd, 2006|

Sometimes it seems that Berkshire have made a specialty of disheartening topics, like terrorism and global perspectives on the United States. As a result, I'm thrilled to have signed a

Berkshire’s first podcast

August 8th, 2006|

I'm delighted to announce our first podcast, an interview with Tim Coates of the Good Library Blog. Tim was interviewed by a Berkshire editor, Marcy Ross, who has worked on

Remembering Ed Beauchamp

August 13th, 2006|

It's Sunday afternoon and I was folding clothes just now. Amongst the shirts and socks was a baggy white t-shirt that says, "A woman's place is in the ring." It

Marvin Mudrick and his chickens

August 21st, 2006|

I seem to be writing a lot about interdisciplinary thinking these days, a good thing considering the work we’re undertaking on the future, and sustainability! The latest article is called

Ben Stein and China

August 23rd, 2006|

I'm not known for my expertise on popular culture (unlike editor Marcy Ross, whose knowledge is breathtaking), and what I do know is completely random (and bicultural, because I lived

The open road

August 26th, 2006|

I don't object to a stopover at Narita, the airport in Tokyo. It's a chance to have some Japanese food in an airport cafeteria (I choose the most exotic meal

Website hosting

August 26th, 2006|

I'm blogging in haste from Narita Airport in Tokyo, en route to China, and here's a link I've been meaning to pass along: SustainableWebsites, Green Web Hosting. We're planning to

First day in Beijing

August 27th, 2006|

On my other trips to Asia I've plunged straight into business within an hour of arrival, so I was determined to have some transition time on this trip--that jet

Walking around Beijing

August 31st, 2006|

Here's a photo of a group of children playing a lively game of cards in a hutong, or alleyway, the traditional housing area of Beijing. I'd read about how the

Listening in China

September 3rd, 2006|

I've been listening to jazz since I arrived in China, first Duke Ellington which I'd accidentally brought along, and then downloads from iTunes. I'm not a jazz listener, generally, but

Anne Frank’s Secret Annex

September 15th, 2006|

I'm leaving Amsterdam in a few minutes, but after three beautiful days here I'm delighted that SIIA will be back in a year for a second Global Information Industry Summit.

Anne Frank's Secret Annex

September 15th, 2006|

I'm leaving Amsterdam in a few minutes, but after three beautiful days here I'm delighted that SIIA will be back in a year for a second Global Information Industry Summit.

Air travel alternatives

September 21st, 2006|

One of the questions asked at "Question Time" at the Resurgence 40th birthday celebration and conference last Saturday was about how much environmentalists fly. The session was hosted by a

Rituals of homecoming

September 23rd, 2006|

It's offputting to be a "CEO blogger." When I was interviewed by Rachel Konrad for the AP article on "Chiefs who blog," she was startled when I said I post

Lots of love

September 26th, 2006|

"Chinese libraries for 900 million farmers," said the headline. Did you get that, 900 million farmers? That's three times the population of the United States. From what I can tell,

An eye for an eye?

September 27th, 2006|

This is the season of the Jewish holidays, which means overflowing motels in the Berkshires and our eating at home. David goes to a small synagogue in the Catskills with

Day 1, Frankfurt

October 5th, 2006|

I guess I'm coping well enough with all the travel, but last week I lost for several hours, my son's birthday cake, baked early that morning to be packed and

Day 2, Frankfurt

October 6th, 2006|

International book rights are a sporting event, I've decided. Publishing people are not known for their physical prowess, but the boasting you hear about how many hours at a stretch,

My new London neighborhood

October 9th, 2006|

Until last year, Camberwell, in south London, was my London neighborhood. I used to stay with friends and see other former neighbors and I could even wander into the Greek

The upside of jetlag

October 13th, 2006|

I'll the traveling I've done of late (Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai, home. Amsterdam, London, home. London, Frankfurt, London, and finally HOME) has an upside for some friends and family.

Mao in bed

October 16th, 2006|

There's nothing like having the right book to hand in a moment of need, but I'd not have imagined that a biography of Mao would be perfect for a weekend

Mao and libraries

October 18th, 2006|

I thought you might enjoy a summary of Mao's early connections with books and libraries, drawn from my weekend reading: Mao Zedong was born in 1893 and in August 1918,

Berkshire’s other lives

October 19th, 2006|

Halloween's approaching, a wonderful occasion in New England. The tradition of harvest season decoration is alive and well, and in our neighborhood trick-or-treating retains a traditional feeling--though a lot of

Making British history

October 19th, 2006|

We had an email today from the British Library, asking to archive one of our websites as part of their effort to preserve "UK documentary heritage." It's quite thrilling to

Religion and money

November 15th, 2006|

I’m reading an amazing book, about an early debate about Darwinism, and will write about that shortly–religion and science, a subject that is being much discussed these days. But religion

Looking for Churchill

November 19th, 2006|

Last night was the only evening event of the World Congress of History Producers: cocktails at the Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum, not far from 10 Downing Street. The

Cricket and croquet

November 25th, 2006|

On the Tube last night, Rachel said, "Mum, explain cricket to me." (Yes, it may have been the first time in history that a teenager has asked this question of

My London library

November 25th, 2006|

After a gap of over 15 years, I am now a card-carrying user of a London library, the Holborn Library on Theobalds Road. Because I stay just up the street

Company footwear

November 29th, 2006|

I've never been a stiletto woman, except for a couple weeks when I was 20, but I'm starting to think of starting a company dress code that requires comfortable shoes.

A horrible idea

November 30th, 2006|

Dave Pollard mentioned, enthusiastically, something called NTag that would put contact information and those interest/responsibility checkboxes that one fills in when registering for conferences into one's badge. The result would

Home to Yoga5

December 4th, 2006|

It's time to write something about one of the things that keeps me sane and healthy: astanga yoga at a new studio in Great Barrington, Yoga5. I stumbled into this

First snow in Great Barrington

December 5th, 2006|

I'm working on another article on social media, and trying to make sense of the whole thing. This makes blogging a different experience: it becomes what anthropologists call "participant observation."

Seriality and synchronicity

December 8th, 2006|

I was at a "Lunch with a Commissioning Editor" at the World Congress of History Producers last month and experienced something called seriality, or better synchronicity, when the editor, Jennifer

Clinton AME Zion Church

December 12th, 2006|

Esther Dozier, the dynamic pastor of the Clinton AME Zion Church, needed a photo of David presenting his book about the church to her, so I went down (after an

YouTube and genius–not?

December 14th, 2006|

I wasn't much impressed by the film Borat (I even felt badly about the portrayal of Kazakhstan, a country that didn't make a great impression on us in 2001) and

This Fleeting World

December 18th, 2006|

Working on world history today, many e-mail exchanges with David Christian, the remarkable historian who has done so much to eludicate the bigger kind of history, the history of the

No questions?

December 19th, 2006|

When doing an interview or making a presentation, I used to worry about not knowing enough about whatever I was supposed to be talking about. (I had an hour on

“Gift this music”

December 27th, 2006|

Back to the real world, on iTunes. "Gift this music," says the button. Is something wrong with, "Give this music"? Isn't this the season of giving? Perhaps this is a

Upgrade for January

January 4th, 2007|

My post title is a double entendre, because Upgrade is the name of the Software and Information Industry's magazine but "Upgrade for January" is also what I'm aiming to do,

Sustainability is hot

January 9th, 2007|

So's the United States. Record setting temperatures have everyone talking about the weather, and I'm dazzled by the way people can notice but not seem very, very scared. But it

Mason Library’s makeover

January 10th, 2007|

Here's a photo of our own Mason Library, which is undergoing a major renovation and expansion, on a beautiful winter's morning. Mason Library is getting incredible media play, because we're

Getting ready for ALA

January 15th, 2007|

Anyone who reads this blog is more than welcome to come to the party we're hosting next week with BookExpo, to celebrate The Libraries We Love at the American Library

Only in Seattle

January 19th, 2007|

I realize I haven't yet clued you in about the reference to Paris is the last post (yes, indeed, Libraries We Love is going to Paris), but getting enough sleep

ALA at its best

January 20th, 2007|

The city of Seattle was a bright, welcoming place today and everyone seems positively to welcome these thousands of librarians and their accompanying spouses and all the companies that depend

Reference enthusiasts

January 21st, 2007|

There's a very strange button on display here that says, "Reference Is Cool." I thought it must be tongue in cheek, but there's really and truly an established company that

Party pix

January 25th, 2007|

We're in the midst of uploading a couple video clips to YouTube (gotta keep that social media rolling), but in the meantime for those who wonder if anyone turned up

Alien thoughts

January 30th, 2007|

As I was getting into CEO dress this morning, ready to talk about copyright and valuation and acquisitions, I started laughing. My colleagues here don't realize that I am an

What Wikipedia is good for

February 13th, 2007|

As someone who's generally in favor of social media, I was thrilled to discover this week what Wikipedia really is good for: reading about television shows. I'm asked now and

Love fests

February 14th, 2007|

"The day of forced love," Liz says her brother calls Valentine's Day. The commercialization of what was (is?) a saint's day is quite remarkable, and the moderate snowstorm that's hit

My first letter in Chinese

February 16th, 2007|

Yes, I wrote my first business letter in Chinese, after months of extensive study and gruelling nights spent learning characters. By candlelight. This would make a good April Fool's Day

Meeting Ray Anderson

February 20th, 2007|

I am in Atlanta, Georgia, on a quick visit to meet two remarkable people working on global sustainability issues, C.S. Kiang, dean of the new College of Environmental Sciences

Christensen’s map of social media

February 23rd, 2007|

Here is a simple scheme for sorting social media technologies, based on four activities: Knowledge Management Relationship Management Collaboration Entertainment Knowledge Management Humans have been storing information for at

A plug for Anthony Trollope

February 25th, 2007|

One of my causes is old books. This isn't for educational or moral reasons, though there's definitely a lot to be said on both scores for reading literature from times

Oscar afterthoughts

February 26th, 2007|

How telling that I wrote yesterday about old books--the popular culture of the past--and didn't realize that it was the day of the Academy Awards. The real irony is that

Our first blogging editor

March 3rd, 2007|

I went to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang's blog just now to see if he was online. Alex is editing the Berkshire Encyclopedia of the 21st Century, while, goddess help me, I've

Talk the talk

March 4th, 2007|

Here's a telling default option, on a system called that links language learners across the world: English as the native language, Mandarin Chinese as the language to learn. I

New Yorker or New Scientist?

March 9th, 2007|

You might think that my favorite magazine would be the New Yorker, or Granta, but in fact it's the New Scientist. New Scientist is the British equivalent of Scientific American,


March 10th, 2007|

I felt like a weekender yesterday. I caught the 3.46 from Grand Central Station to Wassaic after four days in New York. There was a sea of cars waiting, under

Details, details

March 15th, 2007|

I love details: I don't just want great sweeps of history or grand theory. I like to see how things play out in real life. That's what drives some of

March Madness strikes

March 15th, 2007|

I feel more comfortable talking about cricket than most American sports, but now that the college basketball championships are here, I have a new opportunity. Liz got a pool started

Ideological disconnect

March 15th, 2007|

I am suffering from ideological disconnect. I find myself with friends who (1) run a hedge fund, and (2) represent one of the world's major publishing companies, known to many

First evening in Beijing

March 23rd, 2007|

I'm traveling with my 21-year-old son Tom, who is 6'2, a former footballer currently sporting a Marine-style haircut. He got the college curls cut off on Wednesday so he can

Time challenges

March 23rd, 2007|

The first challenge is, of course, a 13-hour time change. I know I won't feel really myself for at least a week. But it's nice to think that by the

Sense and sensibility

March 28th, 2007|

I spent most of today at a Chinese climate change symposium, with many speakers and a ton of information on initiatives in construction and car manufacture. Did you know that

Night communities

March 30th, 2007|

One point Barry W. made last week, in his talk at SUNY Albany, was that there are new "night communities" as a result of social media. It's easy now to

Climate change awareness in China

March 31st, 2007|

On Wednesday I attended an all-day forum on climate change in Beijing. The English title was, "Energy Saving and Pollution Reduction: Responsibility and Competitiveness Forum," and it was sponsored by

Linguistic daring

April 3rd, 2007|

This really should go on the Guanxi blog, but it's so much part of the flow of recent posts that I'll drop it here, and expand a bit at Guanxionline

Is it in the genes?

April 4th, 2007|

I've been checking through photos taken on the trip and was editing this one of Tom's trying a chicken's foot at our morning tea with Ellen Wong when I remembered

A reason to love the U.S.

April 4th, 2007|

I was happy to receive an e-mail from Marcy Ross, in the office in Great Barrington, with the latest comment from Berkshire's website: I think it's understandable that other

CCTV–and backing up!

April 6th, 2007|

When I first started working on computers (yes, I remember those days, of XT computers and WordStar), someone in the industry told me that there were three rules I should

Easter Day, Beijing

April 8th, 2007|

Of course it isn't Easter Day here, but these flags flying over the market at Nu Ren Jie (Ladies Street) certainly have the right colors. I had a fascinating early

No money no talk

April 9th, 2007|

I've been reviewing the next issue of Guanxi: The China Letter, focused on intellectual property. That's made me especially alert to signs in the markets related to faux goods, and

Checking the story

April 10th, 2007|

A couple weeks ago I called a local (i.e. Great Barrington) politician, Tony Blair, ((We call him "our Tony Blair.")) to ask if he had really said what the newspapers

The 39-hour day

April 16th, 2007|

I've lived my first 39-hour day, and that's not hyperbole. I woke up at 4am in Hong Kong and went to bed at 10pm in San Francisco, and because of

The economics of trust

April 16th, 2007|

Interesting topic for the first keynote today: Trust.   Trust comes up in almost any conversation one has about going business in China, as being essential to success there, and

Land of opportunity

April 19th, 2007|

Liz met me at Logan Airport in Boston this morning and we got to catch up on the drive home. She'd gone into Boston to play mixed doubles squash with

Word of mouth–Skype hype

April 23rd, 2007|

But it's not hype. Skype really is transformative. I truly want everyone I work with (well, those I like--and that's most almost all of them) to use this service, and

Springtime, snowtime

April 23rd, 2007|

The weather improved dramatically the day I returned to the Berkshires. But it's still cold in the hills, as our own Scott Eldridge shows. He went hiking in a part

Data mining

April 23rd, 2007|

Making use - let alone sense - of today's deluge of User-Generated Content (I've capped it, having just heard the acronym UGC) is a huge business challenge. I've been pondering

Brand Tsunami

April 23rd, 2007|

Speaking of brands, I was startled recently to see a type of deodorant called Tsunami, which to me is a bit like naming something Hurricane Katrina (I realize that tsunamis

Crime and punishment

April 25th, 2007|

A subject we've done extensive work on but don't talk about much is criminal justice. David Levinson has written on aggression and violence, cross-culturally, and also was editor-in-chief of the

How was China?

April 25th, 2007|

I was 19 when I first went to England,and my best friend Roxanne Teske came over for six months. She Eurailed while I studied for Oxbridge, and we explored Devon

New Year’s resolutions

April 26th, 2007|

WordPress is a wonderful and terrifying system, keeping all my draft post titles on the dashboard along with a count (which started at over 50 when we may the changeover

Welcome to Vermont

April 26th, 2007|

I love visiting Vermont, and today couldn't have been better because the sun came out and the daffodils were blooming. Here's a photo from the visitors' center just after you

Publishing’s dark secret

April 29th, 2007|

After a long meeting with Bob Costanza, director of the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont, on Friday, Rachel and I stopped in Montpelier, the lovely

How about trust and honor?

April 30th, 2007|

To continue the theme of trust, I was mulling over different reasons we have to trust other people. We talk quite often about ethics, integrity, even a moral compass. But

The Trustful Business

May 1st, 2007|

I can't resist including this photo, posted at my Guanxi Blog from Beijing. Most of my blogging is done at Berkshire, but we're about to launch - within days -

Trusting authors

May 1st, 2007|

When I think of the trust an author (or journalist or speaker) needs to elicit, quickly, from his/her audience, I see myself offering my hand to a child I don't

Invasion of the body snatchers

May 2nd, 2007|

Berkshire Publishing operates out of picturesque offices in a turn-of-the-20th-century brick building on Main Street in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, a town with a full-time population of 7,700. It's a casual

Green sex again

May 2nd, 2007|

I'm thrilled to have The Armchair Environmentalist selected as the first book feature on a new website called Green Is Sexy. Thinking back to my early days as an environmentalist

The sports jones

May 3rd, 2007|

Another subject that came up at staff meeting yesterday was sports publishing. We are starting to publish trade and professional books, in addition to the reference works we are known

Do as I say . . .

May 14th, 2007|

Remember that line from your parents? "Do as I say, not as I do?" My favorite variation is my commando brother's line about "walking the talk or talking the walk."

The China frenzy

May 16th, 2007|

A colleague here in DC wrote me that the China frenzy in this town in incessant, and for someone like me it's quite intoxicating - even though the law school

Graduation pledges

May 21st, 2007|

I was tearful at today's graduation ceremony at Grinnell College, in Iowa, watching my son Tom and his classmates as they prepare to take the next steps in their lives.

Extreme numbering

May 24th, 2007|

Our latest publication, the Berkshire Encyclopedia of Extreme Sports, is drawing some flak – which definitely in line with the subject of the book. We're getting calls from people who

On the bamboo path

May 30th, 2007|

Getting ready for BookExpo in New York required, I thought, a hotel and some meal reservations and then a lot of meetings in the calendar. But Liz Steffey and Erin

BookExpo heist

June 2nd, 2007|

It's getting so a day without wifi is a rare occurrence. Even when I'm taking a day off, I almost always have it available. To be in New York at

Tears in Great Barrington

June 11th, 2007|

I can't finish my post about the BookExpo social media panel, because I've been crying for the past hour about the news that our beloved friend Esther Dozier, pastor of

Memorial flowers

June 13th, 2007|

Odd to see peonies from my garden and the card we all signed on the front page of the paper today. It was my dear friend Diane Wortis who suggested

The quality of Google Books

June 23rd, 2007|

One of the great things about organizing a conference panel is the remarkable people you have a chance to meet virtually, and sometimes even meet in person. I'll be writing

This Fleeting World is published

June 30th, 2007|

I'm at the World History Association conference in Milwaukee and have the delightful experience of meeting some of the Berkshire Encyclopedia of World History authors and also being here with


July 4th, 2007|

I sometimes forget that we ourselves at Berkshire Publishing are engaged in one of the most remarkable and rich experiments around in UGC (User-Generated Content), at our LoveUSHateUS? website. This

The China track

July 4th, 2007|

I've been focusing on China for the last couple of years, and have become used to the look of bewilderment on people's faces when they find out that my business

A frivolous sign lover

July 6th, 2007|

I may not be clued in to pop culture, but I do pay attention to wacky bumperstickers and strange names. I was in the so-sedate state of Wisconsin last weekend

Who writes encyclopedias?

July 13th, 2007|

We're in the midst of an encyclopedia blitz, with our July Berkshire Contributors Quarterly about to go out to nearly 5,000 past Berkshire authors who we hope will help with

Online snake oil

July 22nd, 2007|

Don't you love the term 'snake oil'? When I hear it, I visualize a dark-haired man with a pointy beard at the back of a covered wagon, waving a bottle

Encyclopedia authors

July 30th, 2007|

There's going to be more about encyclopedia creation here than you've seen in a while because I have recently been plunged into the maelstrom of some fascinating projects that I

Life is large

August 4th, 2007|

A colleague sent me a CD a couple years ago with a title song called, "Life is Large," suggesting that that might be a good tagline for Berkshire Publishing. I

Day 1, a postscript only

September 6th, 2007|

A witch's striptease, and later a woman bellydancing to "Amazing Grace" played on bagpipes. Where else but Berlin? More details on tonight's SIIA dinner in tomorrow's post; after focusing on

Street life in Berlin

September 7th, 2007|

I've just walked into my Berlin apartment after an after-the-conference dinner with some of my favorite people from SIIA. The restaurant happened to be 10 minutes' walk from the apartment

My first widget

September 7th, 2007|

It's probably not the first. The Flickr badge you see below is a widget, too, I think. But I had a long conversation this evening about widgets with Dan Gisolfi,

16 ways to interact

September 11th, 2007|

Here's a diagram that really worked, though of course it isn't legible here. It shows a whole Amazon product page – which is long – as a very small image

Texperts on the Tube

September 12th, 2007|

I love reading subway adverts in New York, but the London Tube has better ones. Here's my favorite find: a information company called Texperts. What a fabulous name! Here, every

Straw bale gardening

September 17th, 2007|

I use straw bales for insulation against the back of my house and then mulch with the damp, dark straw in the spring, but in a quest for mesclun seed,

‘S Wonderful

September 20th, 2007|

In my widget quest, I explored the plugins available for WordPress and installed something called FoxyTunes. Lo and behold, I now have a button that inserts details of the music