RE: e-books and heritage

Subject: RE: e-books and heritage
From: Roy Jacobsen <rjacobse -at- GreatPlains -dot- com>
To: "'PHILA -at- Mail -dot- VIPS -dot- com'" <PHILA -at- Mail -dot- VIPS -dot- com>, TECHWR-L <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jan 2000 11:47:14 -0600

A couple of years ago, at the InfoOnline conference in Chicago, the keynote
speaker was Douglas Adams (of "Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" fame), and
he drew the analogy between what's going on now (with the move to online
information) and what happened when the library at Alexandria burned.

The burning of the library at Alexandria was a huge blow to the "information
economy" of the time, because so many written works were lost for all time,
and hence, so much knowledge was lost.

How is that analogous to what we face today? There is a huge amount of
information buried in print. We are beginning to transfer it online, but
we're also producing gobs of new stuff, and the vast majority of the old
stuff is _staying_ in print. Therefore, maintaining what is now on paper is
of paramount importance, because once it's lost, it is lost forever. (Adams
also pointed out that, due to this, what we technical communicators do is
also of paramount importance, because we have a large influence on how
online information is modeled. But that's another story.)

Roy M. Jacobsen
Documentation Supervisor
Great Plains
1701 38th Street Southwest
Fargo, ND 58103

"[The Y2K bug] was sorta like dodge ball. You hardly ever get hit by the
ball you see." -- Patricia Jacobsen (age 12)

-----Original Message-----
From: PHILA -at- Mail -dot- VIPS -dot- com [mailto:PHILA -at- Mail -dot- VIPS -dot- com]
Sent: Friday, January 07, 2000 11:13 AM
Subject: OT: e-books and heritage

<<In fact, within the next 10 years, Barnes and Noble Vice Chairman Steve
Riggio said, "There will be an electronic version of virtually every single
book in print.">>

The idea of an evolving paperless library raises a number of troubling
considerations in my mind...
--Data degradation
--Archival requirements
--Technological obsolescence
--Cost of conversion or upgrade
**Books *not* made available in this format

As an ex-librarian, I'll confess: my personal library could use a reduction
in size. But I'm not willing to trade my groaning bookshelves for technology
that my grandchildren might not be able to use. Nor am I willing to deprive
them of the feeling of continuity gained by reading, for example, the same
well-thumbed poetry book that their mother, grandmother, and
great-great-aunt, spidery marginal scribbles, yellowing
bookplate and all.

Those native to this land had a principle of considering the seven
generations - three generations of elders, the current generation, and three
generations of descendants -- before making any wholesale decision. Our
elders, by contrast, are already devalued and dumped in nursing homes; the
books from their generations are steadily being culled from underfunded
libraries and school curricula as "no longer relevant." If eBooks take off,
the paper version may well become a quaint throwback, progressively less
accessible...yet another step in the same trend toward, as Robert Bly called
it, a myopic, self-referential "sibling society."

Philomena Hoopes
Phila -at- vips -dot- com <Phila -at- vips -dot- com>
(410) 832-8330 ext. 845

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