Friday, March 25, 2005

Blast from the Past (from Wired Magazine):
The Great Library of Amazonia

This article is remarkable. Especially when author, Gary Wolf, makes the insightful, if perversely chauvanistic and inaccurate, observation:

Therein lies a problem. Books are an ancient and proven medium. Their physical form inspires passion. But their very physicality makes books inaccessible to the multi-terabyte databases of modern Alexandrian projects. Books take time to transport. Their text vanishes and their pages yellow in a rash of foxing. Most important, it's still shockingly difficult to find information buried in books. Even as the Internet has revived hope of a universal library and Google seems to promise an answer to every query, books have remained a dark region in the universe of information. We want books to be as accessible and searchable as the Web. On the other hand, we still want them to be books.

This is sort of like complaining that the reason people are not flocking to online books is because hardware and software developers can't get off their duffs and develop services with the "look and feel" of books. To which I sound my frequent re-tort: If electronic books must have the look and feel of books in order to be successful, why not use books?

Further, why, in the first place are technologists so obsessed with competing with books as a technology? For example, contrary to Mr Wolf's observations above, books are frighteningly easy to transport compared to an online version.

Why can't they simply concede to reality and let books be books, and computers be computers?

3 comments:

Henry said...

Substance trumps triviality, quality finesses quantity and synergy prevails over contention in a Happy Thought Lifestyle. treasures within

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