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BOOK REVIEW

Technique

TNQ2K

By Greg Kuhnen and GÁbor CsÁnyi
STAFF REPORTERS

Nicole Immorlica, Editor in Chief

Alex Ianculescu, Managing Editor

Cindy Ku, Business Manager

Andrej Bogdanov, Design Editor

Amanda CarriÓn Herrero, Photo Editor

Leila Hasan, Literary Editor

“Memories are less like complete histories than museums: you walk through and this reminds you of that. You make your own connections, draw a web of experiences and maybe learn from them.”

-- Technique 2000

Another year passes by into the fuzziness of our memories, and with it, another Technique to fuel our future nostalgia. “There is no feel-good take-home message within these pages” the book warns us, and it’s true, but across the collection of views the book provides us, the familiar feel of life at the ‘Tute seeps through.

Let me start by saying that if you’re a senior and you don’t own a copy of Technique, get one. Consider it a present to your future self. Someday you’ll try to think back to your days here, or you’ll need to look up what’s-his-face-who-lived-down-the-hall’s name, or maybe you’ll just be bored, and you’ll wish you had a yearbook to flip through. Any one of the dozen or more times you’ll do this over your life, you’d gladly pay $50 to have the book, so do yourself a favor and get one now.

We’ll start with the same critique we make every year -- captions. In photography, there are many images that stand on their visual merits alone, yet others are presented as documentary in the context of something larger. When a photo serves as a window on a some event, it’s important to know what’s going on. That usually means captions. Opening Technique to the first spread of photos, the problem is obvious: on one page, students juggle, play tug-of-war, fight with padded jousting sticks, and carve a pumpkin. Was this all one event? Was there a pumpkin carving contest, or is he just a random guy with a pumpkin?

In contrast, the opposite page jogs our memory with brief captions on each photo. Oh yeah, 2.007, I remember that.

It shouldn’t be hard; people don’t even need to be named, but every photo with a story behind it should be accompanied by some tiny snippet of text to put it in context.

Standard gripe aside, this really is a good book. The introduction and “Life” sections provide a good balance of events, views of campus, and random reflections on MIT culture. The photos lack a little bit on the creative side, but admittedly it’s difficult to keep filling a book with new views of the same campus. Still, it’s always something to pursue.

The book is not without some glaring mishaps, like the photo of Dance Troupe on page eight. One suspects that this photo was just conveniently colorful and horizontal. The editors should not feel that they need to make these compromises. In fact, the arts photos were generally not up to the usual Technique quality we expect.

In the “Journal” section of the book, Technique staffers render their opinions on the news events of the year. This year Technique scaled back its world news pieces in favor of more local news.

The MIT pieces are filled with emotion and engaging points of view. One piece gives a humorous account of a student’s interesting experiences in a UROP lab. Another student gives his perspective on drug use and the nitrous oxide death of Richard Guy ’99. These bits of commentary on life at the Institute feel alive because they’re written by people who are directly involved with the issues they are discussing.

In contrast, the handful of non-MIT pieces seem ridiculously out of place. A story on the retirement of three professional athletes consoles us on our “devastating loss” of our favorite players. Placement is awkward at best: the piece about athletes runs just a few pages from a story on ethnic cleansing and another friend’s comment on the death of Richard Guy.

The thirty pages of the ‘Activities’ section seem quite random and unnecessary. The pictures are very similar in content to those in the excellent opening pages, except half of them are very boring. It does not provide a comprehensive account of MIT’s hundreds of student activities. The reader is left wondering why the editors did not pick the good photos from this section, put them into the opening section, and forget the rest. Its last few pages contain good sports photos, which should be in the immediately following ‘Sports’ section.

The biggest improvement that this year’s book made over recent years is in the sports coverage. Past volumes of Technique have contained only spotty coverage of some events and have left others out entirely. We often complained about that on these pages, citing the complete lack of anything worth looking at in the section. This year’s book boasts good photos of almost every sport MIT competes in (except baseball, softball, and golf). Good sports photography doesn’t come easily -- it requires practice, a good intuition for the sport, and sharp reflexes. Someone in there obviously felt this was important enough to put effort into.

Living groups are living groups, and while no one did anything truly spectacular this year (honorable mention to East Campus Fourth West for the best new location) Technique would like to announce the formation of two new living groups to help deal with the current crowding situation.

First, Technique welcomed Stratton House to the ranks of on-campus housing options. Many of us have been living there for years, but it’s nice to finally be recognized.

Second, through persistent incompetence, the editors of The Tech and Technique have created a new fraternity known as Tau Epsilon Pi to replace Tau Epsilon Phi.