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Monday, November 26, 2012

First talk: ebooks

I just finished giving my first talk in Moscow, a lecture for "students and professors" at the Russian State University for the Humanities. The topic was "The Role and Future of Books in the Digital World." I gave it in English -- the students are part of the American Studies program, headed by Marina Kaul.

Having taught a class last summer with friend and colleague Sharon Morris, the setting was familiar. Bright students listened carefully and asked some great questions. Virtually all of them, as undergraduates, had read ebooks. When asked if they paid for what they read, they all laughed.

Of course, a great deal of what they read is probably on Project Gutenberg. But not all. When I asked if ebooks were available from their local libraries, the consensus seemed to be that they were not.

So far, I'm holding up well. I got to my hotel about noon yesterday, then walked long and fast with Nicky, my translator from Bulgaria, now teaching English in Moscow. I crashed around 7:30 (after having been awake for some 26 hours), woke up about three hours later, then managed to fall back asleep till about 7 a.m. So I got up, had breakfast (a terrific buffet at the hotel, a mix of American and Russian choices), and got picked up by Peter of the US Embassy, and an embassy car. I feel remarkably well synchronized to local time, although the long morning gloom (it didn't seem like morning till about 10 a.m.) was a little surprising. (It seems like the sun went down around 5:30-6 last night.)

Lunch was at the university commissary -- a kind of macaroni and a helping of stroganoff, and a side salad. Compote, maybe some kind of red currant. All tasty and reasonably cheap - 181 rubles.

Then I came back to the hotel for a cup of coffee in the hotel lounge, where there's a pretty nice jazz piano going on.

In a couple of hours I head out to the second talk of the day.

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