[Beowulf] how Google warps your brain

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Mon Oct 25 08:24:09 PDT 2010

Just want to add that some thousands of years ago, we had the same issue
moving from stone+chisel to paper+ink. Ink fades, paper mildews and worse,
paper is flammable. The many burnings of the library at Alexandria (and
practically every other ancient major library) could be seen as proof that
we should have stuck with stone. But paper is vastly more transmissable (as
RGB emphasizes), so we have vastly more authentic ancient texts (copied) on
paper, than we do from monumental inscriptions.

It may be awkward and not cheap to read a disk with a defunct format, but we
certainly can if we want to. It's not lost technology like the recipe for
purple dye :-) it's just not worth mass producing cheap readers for our 360K
floppies. Everything worthwhile from that time has already been uploaded to
the net somewhere. But you can find a lab with a magnet that can read
anything in your basement. And in another generation we'll be able to
download a 360K floppy controller onto our desktop rapid prototyper.


On Mon, Oct 25, 2010 at 5:54 AM, Daniel Kuidger <daniel.kidger at bull.co.uk>wrote:

> I love books.  I have a personal library with well over 1000 novels (it
> fills four or five full size bookshelves, most of the shelves stacked
> two deep with paperbacks and with stacks left out all over the floor in
> one of the rooms of my house.  But books are deader than a doorknob.
> I wish I could put them all on a single device and have my library
> with me, the same way that my entire music collection is sitting next to
> my right elbow at this moment, playing Live Dead at the Fillmore,
> instead of being on perishable media that deteriorates over time, is
> easy to break or lose, and that you have to repurchase every time
> somebody fiddles the distribution/playback mechanism.
> Ok - so this is a bit off-topic but in my opinion the *only* music format
> that will be guaranteed readable in say 100 years time is vinyl and the only
> document format that endures will be ink on paper.
> SD cards, CDs, DVDs et al. will all become obsolete as technology
> progresses, and even if they didn't then they will suffer from bit rot.
> Academics are already finding that the CDs they burnt of their research a
> few years ago are no longer readable.
> Also electronic copies of old books do not carry the depth of information
> that the original had. Not just that the formatting gets changed but you
> also lose the smell of an old book, the yellowing of the pages, odd pencil
> notes in the margins (*) that give that work its character and depth.
> The only alternative for longevity is to post our writings on the Internet
> - such posts will last until the end of our civilization (**)
> (*) remember Fermat's margin comment in his copy of Diophantus's *Arithmetica
> -* would he have written that if he had a Kimble?
> (**) which has a faint chance of lasting those 100 years.
> Daniel
> --
> Bull, Architect of an Open World TM
> Dr. Daniel Kidger, HPC Technical Consultantdaniel.kidger at bull.co.uk
> +44 (0) 7966822177
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