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posted by mrpg on Saturday April 08 2017, @09:41AM   Printer-friendly
from the smells-like-knowledge dept.

A 'Historic Book Odour Wheel' which has been developed to document and archive the aroma associated with old books, is being presented in a study in the open access journal Heritage Science. Researchers at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage created the wheel as part of an experiment in which they asked visitors to St Paul's Cathedral's Dean and Chapter library in London to characterize its smell.

The visitors most frequently described the aroma of the library as 'woody' (selected by 100% of the visitors who were asked), followed by 'smoky' (86%), 'earthy' (71%) and 'vanilla' (41%). The intensity of the smells was assessed as between 'strong odor' and 'very strong odor'. Over 70% of the visitors described the smell as pleasant, 14% as 'mildly pleasant' and 14% as 'neutral'.

In a separate experiment, the researchers presented visitors to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery with an unlabelled historic book smell - sampled from a 1928 book they obtained from a second-hand bookshop in London - and collected the terms used to describe the smell. The word 'chocolate' - or variations such as 'cocoa' or 'chocolatey' - was used most often, followed by 'coffee', 'old', 'wood' and 'burnt'. Participants also mentioned smells including 'fish', 'body odour', 'rotten socks' and 'mothballs'.

Cecilia Bembibre, heritage scientist at UCL and corresponding author of the study said: "Our odour wheel provides an example of how scientists and historians could begin to identify, analyze and document smells that have cultural significance, such as the aroma of old books in historic libraries. The role of smells in how we perceive heritage has not been systematically explored until now."

Will our grandchildren recognize the smell of diesel, or oil?

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  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09 2017, @06:02AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09 2017, @06:02AM (#491093)

    The cooking... if the majority of the population is UBI-ing, I suspect the American Dream will morph into "be granted a minimal living space in the social home compounds". Do you imagine those cheap compounds will allow enough room for an individual kitchen to make a "tasty snack"? Imagine a road-side motel room and the start to cut it down (to reduce building and maintenance costs).
    I reckon a simple minimal microwave oven and a water tap will be just enough to mix your daily ratio of soylent with water in a cylinder, put it into the microwave (which won't allow other form factors but your cylinder) and warm it. Simple and, most importantly, highly "efficient" (aka cheap).

    I'm not sure what sort of society you're envisioning, or what you mean by "the majority of the population is UBI-ing"; it seems like you're suggesting there will be no profitable employment available for this whole majority? Because if there's any opportunity to work even a few hours a week for snack money, I can't imagine a majority of the population gonna sit around eating soylent (or equivalent) for every meal.

    I normally think of the point of UBI as follows. (Mind, I'm not sold on UBI, but I'm not dead-set against it either.)
    Thanks to automation, we'll "soon" have enough work to keep 50% of the workforce employed. (For our purposes "workforce" = not counting minors, but including the elderly.)
    No UBI, it breaks down like:

    1. 50% employed full-time, making a living wage
    2. 50% unemployed, starving and rioting

    For reasons I can't quite grasp, society just doesn't want to make employers shorten the work week to 35, 30, 25, and then 20 hours, so that's out. Next approach is UBI, which frees everyone from needing a full-time job with a living wage. Once you release it from full-time jobs, that 50% goes a lot farther; it breaks down like:

    1. 20% employed full-time (at lower wages) -- guess they value money relatively more (vs. leisure time) than I do; maybe they like nice houses, maybe their hobbies are expensive per hour.
    2. 60% employed part-time, at varying hours/week -- they wouldn't be making a living, but combined with UBI, they have money to raise their standards of living a bit, maybe a nicer apartment, better food, and low-cost hobbies; of course they could (and a few will) choose to live in a box farm like group 3, and spend it all on food/hobbies, but most people will spend some on housing, some on food, and some on hobbies.
    3. 20% unemployed -- this includes the pathologically lazy, the unemployable (including those too old to work even part time), and those who find themselves between jobs, but will soon be back in group 2; they might well be living in the massive arrays of minimal living space you envision, but they'll never be more than a small minority.

    And as more automation destroys more jobs, group 1 shrinks (and eventually disappears), and group 2 find themselves working fewer hours, but group 3 won't grow appreciably until there are practically no employment opportunities. Maybe this remote endgame is exactly what you're talking about, but IMO we have a long way to go until that's an issue, and I'm not sure we'll need employment anymore; by then I expect the job-destroying robots to be fully self-replicating, and to have been "liberated" from whatever cartel was restricting ownership of them; in other words, everyone can either have their own, or belong to a co-op that has one. The only scarcity left will be the energy to run them...

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09 2017, @06:14AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday April 09 2017, @06:14AM (#491095)

    Oh, and this is getting off-topic, so I separated it out, but one phenomenon I think you'd see under UBI... Rather than sitting in their little boxes watching tv until they take up russian roulette to alleviate the boredom, some will turn to cooperative farming.

    You'd have a small group of people owning shares in a farm, pooling some percentage of their UBI to cover property tax, upkeep, and consumables, and committing their own labor to produce their food; the aim would be principally subsistence for the members, rather than profit, but any surplus would of course be sold and the proceeds returned to members as a dividend. Between better food, a nicer place to live, and a lot less boredom, many people would find it a much better choice than the box farm, hard work notwithstanding; and depending how available the job-destroying automation that precipitated this mess is, it may not be all that hard of work, either. (Farm work isn't exactly easy right now, but it's different work at different times of the year -- I'd really rather have that variety than a similarly labor-intensive job where I do the same thing every week year-round.)

    It's not clear whether that sort of farming (and individual homesteading, etc.) really counts as "employment" or not; I'd put them in group 2, but you could argue that I should have added a 4th group for individual or cooperative "self-sufficiency". (I mean, it's not really self-sufficient if you need the UBI check to make ends meet, but I haven't got a better word...) And the great thing is, land that is marginal for true self-sufficiency at small-scale (i.e. it yields enough to feed the farmers, but not enough surplus to reliably cover expenses) becomes quite livable when the expenses are paid by UBI; this in turn means if it does become a phenomenon as I expect, it won't be self-extinguishing by driving up prices on the best farmland.

  • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Sunday April 09 2017, @01:25PM

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Sunday April 09 2017, @01:25PM (#491149) Journal

    I'm not sure what sort of society you're envisioning, or what you mean by "the majority of the population is UBI-ing"; it seems like you're suggesting there will be no profitable employment available for this whole majority?

    Indeed, this is what I'm suggesting.

    Next approach is UBI, which frees everyone from needing a full-time job with a living wage.

    There are multiple approaches. One I wouldn't dismiss so easily: WW3.
    A good thing China softened its stance [], but there's always a risk Agent Orange to put his foot into his mouth [] one too many in the future.