• ALBERT C. BARNES (1872 – 1951)

    ... was an art-collector, a philanthropist; Barnes is also famous for his long-enduring friendship with philosopher John DEWEY (1859-1952)

    Albert C. Barnes was born in a working-class family; the family lived in a hard, working-poor Philadelphia neighborhood, Kensington, the home of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Balboa. Barnes started medical studies, and became a doctor when he was 20, but preferred research as a chemist. Because he was so poor, he had to work to earn money (was a tutor, a boxer, and semi-professional baseball player).

    He remains famous for developing an antiseptic solution he marketed as Argyrol, a treatment for infant blindness. The drug was financially so successful that, in 1902, his firm announced profits equivalent to today’s $6,849,038. In 1907, Barnes had become a millionaire at the age of 35. In July 1929, he sold his business for a reported sum of $6 million – just before the crash at Wall Street.

    His wife, Laura Barnes developed an Arboretum for the firm and founded the Arboretum School in 1940; up to know it has been working in association with Harvard University College. He himself changed the organization of labour in his own pharmaceutical firm : employees have to collaborate, and choose their own schedule; there are educational pauses for the whole staff, and seminars with invited lecturers.

    He started collecting art in 1910. He actually met Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, Modigliani, de Chirico, Soutine. His collection includes 69 Cézannes 178 Renoirs. He also bought works by Rousseau (le Douanier -), Georges Seurat, Edgar Degas, and Vincent van Gogh.

    In 1925, he created an educational institution, the Barnes Foundation, in Lower Merion (Pa), based on his private collection of art-works displayed according to his own aesthetic choices, drastically restricting the number of visitors to favour students. These theories were drawn from the ideas of William James, George Santayana, and John Dewey—about how people looked at and learned from art. The goal of the Barnes Foundation was for the purpose of "promot[ing] the advancement of education and the appreciation of the fine arts." In Spring 1923, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts had exhibited 75 pieces of Barnes’ collection (Soutine, Modigliani, Matisse, Picasso etc.). The event had been strongly criticized by the press. From then on, Barnes started a dislike for museums and casual art-viewers.



    In Democracy and Education (1916), John Dewey insisted that developing cognitive skills is education better than memorizing facts. So in front of artworks, you do not need to know anything apart from the painting or statue you have to understand. So works are shown without labels or chronology : they are simply arranged on the wall, and the students are sensitive enough to connect the styles, periods, and research of the artists in the collection. Comments would be verbose and useless in terms of revealing the meaning of the works displayed.  

    Thanks to his mother’s involvement in active Methodist charities, Barnes got to know African-Americans at a very early age. Later he was extremely interested in the “Harlem Renaissance” (expressing his admiration of "black soul" in "Negro Art and America", an essay, 1925)


    Thank you very much, Tatiana, for the very informative paper you presented at our Dewey symposium : Tatiana LEVY (Ec. Sup. d’Art, ENSA Bourges): “A.C. Barnes, J. Dewey. Que transmet le collectionneur aujourd’hui ? ». See also :




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  • Comment à l'automne 1964 une jeune mariée de Baltimore a "presque" serré la main d'un personnage historique et s'est découverte quelques années plus tard sur une photo qui a depuis fait le tour du monde ...


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  •  His name was Joseph Carl Robnett Licklider (1915–1990), a famous American computer scientist, one of the most important figures in computing history.

    He was one of the first to foresee modern-style interactive computing and remains an Internet pioneer with an early vision of a worldwide computer network long before it was built. He was successful in funding research, initiating today's graphical user interface, and creating the ARPANET, later to become the Internet.

    Waldrop Mitchell, his biographer, says: “He has been called "computing's Johnny Appleseed", for planting the seeds of computing in the digital age; Robert Taylor, founder of Xerox PARC's Computer Science Laboratory […] noted that ‘most of the significant advances in computer technology […] were simply extrapolations of Lick's vision’."

    Mitchell sums up his vision saying he “has seen a future in which computers will empower individuals, instead of forcing them into rigid conformity. He is almost alone in his conviction that computers can become not just superfast calculating machines, but joyful machines: tools that will serve as new media of expression, inspirations to creativity, and gateways to a vast world of online information."

    J. C. R. or "Lick"

    He graduated in physics, mathematics, and psychology, got a PhD in psychoacoustics (worked at the Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory at Harvard University, a world-famous specialist on pitch-perception, 1943-1950). He became an associate professor in information technology at MIT, where he got involved in the SAGE project, as head of the team concerned with human factors : "SAGE" (Semi-Automatic Ground Environment) was a Cold War project to create a computer-aided air defense system ; computers collected and presented data to a human operator, who then chose the appropriate response. Indeed Licklider was a human factors expert. Later director of Project MAC at MIT, his team produced the first computer time-sharing system, CTSS. He also played a part in the invention of the computer mouse.

    J. C. R. or "Lick"

    [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ SAGE console ]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]]

    His most famous article, Man–Computer Symbiosis, insisted on the need for simpler interaction between computers and computer users. Unlike many AI (artificial intelligence) practitioners, Licklider never felt that men would be replaced by computer-based beings : "Men, he wrote, will set the goals, formulate the hypotheses, determine the criteria, and perform the evaluations. Computing machines will do the routinizable work that must be done to prepare the way for insights and decisions in technical and scientific thinking". His approach is sometimes called Intelligence amplification (IA).

    Sources : http://www.cs.rit.edu/~rpretc/imm/project1/biography.html


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  • The First Transcontinental Railroad (known originally as the "Pacific Railroad" and later as the "Overland Route") was a railroad line built between 1863 and 1869 that connected Iowa with the Pacific Ocean at Alameda, California, opposite San Francisco. The road thus connected the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States by rail for the first time. The construction and operation of the line was authorized by the Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864, during the American Civil War. The Congress supported it with 30-year U.S. government bonds and extensive land grants of government-owned land. Opened for through traffic on May 10, 1869, with the driving of the "Last Spike" at Promontory Summit, Utah, the road established a mechanized transcontinental transportation network that revolutionized the population and economy of the American West. (Vocab.: government bonds : emprunts d’état ; land grants : concessions de terrain ; network : réseau ; railroad line: ligne de chemin de fer)

    The transcontinental railroad served as a vital link for trade, commerce and travel that joined the eastern and western halves of the late 19th-century U.S.A. The transcontinental railroad slowly ended most of the stagecoach lines and wagon trains that had preceded it. They provided much faster, safer and cheaper (8 days and about $65 economy) transport east and west for people and goods across half a continent. (Vocab.: goods : marchandises ; halves : moitiés; stagecoach lines :  lignes desservies par diligence )

    The main workers on the Union Pacific were many Army veterans and Irish immigrants. Most of the engineers and supervisors were Army veterans who had learned their trade keeping the trains running during the American Civil War. The Central Pacific, facing a labor shortage in the West, relied on Chinese immigrant laborers (the “Celestials”). (Vocab.: Army veterans : anciens combattants; labor shortage : pénurie de main d’oeuvre ; trade : métier;

    Completion of the railroad substantially accelerated populating the West, while contributing to the decline of territory controlled by the Native Americans in these regions. The Native Americans saw the addition of the railroad as a violation of their treaties with the United States. War parties began to raid the moving labor camps that followed the progress of the line. Union Pacific responded by increasing security and hiring marksmen to kill American bison, which were both a physical threat to trains and the primary food source for many of the Plains Indians. The Native Americans then began killing laborers when they realized that the so-called "Iron Horse" threatened their existence. (Vocab.: Completion : achèvement; hiring marksmen : engager des tireurs d’élite ; labor camps : chantiers ; a threat to : menaces pour … ; War parties : groupes de guerilla)

    P1030611.jpg SALT LAKE CITY (Ut.): The Gateway.

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  • Needing rapid communication, the companies built telegraph lines along the railroad. The linkage made these lines easier to protect and maintain than the original First Transcontinental Telegraph lines


    In addition to track laying (which typically employed approximately 25% of the labor force), the operation also required the efforts of hundreds of tunnelers, explosive experts, bridge builders, blacksmiths, carpenters, engineers, masons, surveyors,  teamsters, telegraphers, and even cooks, to name just a few of the trades involved in construction of the railroad. The Union Pacific laid 1,087 miles (1,749 km) of track, The Central Pacific laid 690 miles (1,100 km) of track. (Vocab.: bridge builders : employés aux ponts ; carpenters : menuisiers ; explosive experts  : spécialistes d’explosifs ; involved in : impliqués dans … ; track laying : pose des rails ; teamster : routier ; tunnelers : employés aux tunnels)


    Asa Whitney, first, Theodore Judah, later, did their utmost to have the railroad built. The
    Pony Express from 1860 to 1861 was to prove that the Central Nevada Route across Nevada and Utah and the sections of the Oregon Trail across Wyoming and Nebraska was viable during the winter. With the American Civil War raging, the apparent need for the railroad became more urgent. (Vocab.: did their utmost to : firent de leur mieux pour …)


    Six years after the groundbreaking, laborers of the Central Pacific Railroad from the west and the Union Pacific Railroad from the east met at Promontory Summit, Utah. It was here on May 10, 1869 that Stanford drove the The Last Spike -- or golden spike, now on display at Stanford University -- that joined the rails of the transcontinental railroad. Travel from coast to coast was reduced from six months or more to just one week.


    Visible remains of the historic line are still in service today, especially through the Sierra Nevada Mountains and canyons in Utah and Wyoming. (Vocab.: golden spike : pointe d’or ; groundbreaking : la première percée ; on display : exposé(-e) à …; Visible remains : les vestiges / témoignages visibles)



    P1030612.jpgSALT LAKE CITY (Ut.): inside view of 'The Gateway'.

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