Marcus Banks

Writer and Librarian

Evanston, Illinois

Marcus Banks

Information is Abundant, Insight is Rare

Stewart Brand’s iconic quote is usually simplified like so during marches and late night college musings: “Information wants to be free.”. That’s reductive. Brand’s full expression is more thoughtful and sophisticated: “On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life.
Medium Link to Story

“Why’s this so good?” No. 92: David Foster Wallace and “9/11: The View from the Midwest”

David Foster Wallace grew up in the Midwest but it was not really his home. Yet in September 2001, he was teaching at Illinois State University and living in Bloomington. He had attended college in Massachusetts and graduate school in Arizona, and had written Infinite Jest and earned a MacArthur “genius” grant, and now he was living in a community that valued modesty and humility more than literary accomplishment.
Nieman Storyboard Link to Story

The 2006 Blackout: Too Easy Just To Blame Con Edison

 Though the mayor’s aides saw them as rude, the Queens politicians who rolled their eyes behind the mayor’s back in the middle of last month’s blackout may actually have been reacting more civilly than most people from western Queens would have done, given the circumstances. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was holding a press conference in which he said that Con Edison and its chief executive officer, Kevin Burke, deserve our thanks. Link to Story

Electricity, Gas & Broadband

Should broadband access join water, gas and electricity and be a basic utility available to all New Yorkers? Some advocates say yes and are likely to press that point as the New York City Broadband Advisory Committee continues to conduct hearings throughout the city. The Broadband Advisory Committee, created by Local Law 126, exists to advise the mayor and City Council speaker “on issues pertaining to access to broadband technologies within the city of New York.”. Link to Story

Fiction review: 'Dream City,' by Brendan Short

Brendan Short's first novel, "Dream City," is a complex creature. It is partially a social history of Chicagoland from the 1930s to the present, but it's principally about the life of a fractured man named Michael Halligan. Short successfully weaves together many people's lives, all the while with a keen understanding of how people interact with each other.
San Francisco Chronicle Link to Story

Nonfiction review: 'Once You're Lucky'

Sarah Lacy has reported on startups and venture capital firms in Silicon Valley for almost a decade. Following a stint as the technology reporter for the San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal, Lacy co-wrote an influential cover story for Business Week about Digg founder Kevin Rose. She currently writes the Valley Girl column for and co-hosts the "Tech Ticker" on Yahoo Finance.
San Francisco Chronicle Link to Story

Connections between open access publishing and access to gray literature

The potential of open access publication to increase accessibility to peer-reviewed literature is cause for celebration. As we celebrate, we should not lose sight of the longstanding challenge of providing better access to the gray literature that provides an essential complement to peer-reviewed findings.

The excitement of Google Scholar, the worry of Google Print

In late 2004 Google announced two major projects, the unveiling of Google Scholar and a major expansion of the Google Print digitization program. Both projects have generated discussion within the library and research communities, and Google Print has received significant media attention. This commentary describes exciting educational possibilities stimulated by Google Scholar, and argues for caution regarding the Google Print project.
Biomedical Digital Libraries Link to Story

"Divorce and Gratitude" by Marcus Banks

She was born in Hong Kong and was not a US citizen. If any relationship defined "opposites attract," it was ours. She was more logical than me, yet more carefree; I was softer, but somehow more uptight. We married when I was 23 and she was 20, which seems shockingly young but was perfectly suited to my nature (if not to hers.)
Superstiton Review Link to Story

Guest Blog Post, Marcus Banks: Deepening

Living in Northern California, I’ve enjoyed a fair number of wine tastings at vineyards in Sonoma and Napa. For many years I preferred white wines to red. The white wines were crisper, sweeter, easier on the palate. The reds were more subtle, more complicated, altogether more work. I’d drink the reds with a sense of duty, the whites with an air of expectation.
Superstition Review Link to Story

Conference Report: "Publish or Perish?"

Last week I attended the "Publish or Perish? : The Future of Scholarly Publishing & Careers" conference at UC Davis. The hashtag was #publishperish14. Conference co-organizer Jonathan Eisen has created a Storify of each day's tweets, available here and here. On this blog I have often cited Michael Clarke's brilliant 2010 essay "Why Hasn't Scientific Publishing Been Disrupted Already?"
Marcus' World Link to Story

Dean Starkman's "Consensus" on the Future of News

A colleague pointed me to Dean Starkman's recent online piece for Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), "A new consensus on the future of news." This brought me back to the early days of my blog, when the future of news was a recurring topic. Starkman sees an emerging consensus about the state of journalism in the digital age.
Marcus' World Link to Story


Marcus Banks

Marcus Banks is a journalist and commentator.

His reportage has appeared in the Gotham Gazette. His book reviews have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Prick of the Spindle and Rain Taxi. His personal essays have appeared in the Superstition Review.

A librarian for more than a decade, Marcus is deeply interested in how the Web is changing how we create and evaluate information. A writer for longer than that, he also cares about how the Web has changed news gathering. He has written frequently about both topics on his blog,

He also loves baseball and dabbles in cooking. Baseball is best enjoyed on the radio (or the At Bat app) and cooking should always be by recipe.