Currently reading : The Universal Library (KEVIN KELLY)

The Universal Library (KEVIN KELLY)

21 July 2010

Author : jeanne-salome-rochat

In several dozen nondescript office buildings around the world, thousands of hourly workers bend over tabletop scanners and haul dusty books into high-tech scanning booths. They are assembling the universal library page by page.

The dream is an old one: to have in one place all knowledge, past and present. All books, all documents, all conceptual works, in all languages. It is a familiar hope, in part because long ago we briefly built such a library. The great library at Alexandria, constructed around 300 B.C., was designed to hold all the scrolls circulating in the known world. At one time or another, the library held about half a million scrolls, estimated to have been between 30 and 70 percent of all books in existence then. But even before this great library was lost, the moment when all knowledge could be housed in a single building had passed. Since then, the constant expansion of information has overwhelmed our capacity to contain it. For 2,000 years, the universal library, together with other perennial longings like invisibility cloaks, antigravity shoes and paperless offices, has been a mythical dream that kept receding further into the infinite future.

Until now.

HERE, download “Scan This Book!” by Kevin Kelley in New York Times Magazine (May 14th, 2006)

The essay is divided into 9 rather appetizing sections.

1. Scanning the Library of Libraries
2. What Happens When Books Connect
3. Books: The Liquid Version
4. The Triumph of the Copy
5. The Moral Imperative to Scan
6. The Case Against Google
7. When Business Models Collide
8. Search Changes Everything

Kevin Kelly is the “senior maverick” at Wired magazine and author of “Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Social Systems and the Economic World” and other books. He last wrote for the magazine about digital music.

Above: woodcut from Swift’s Battle of the Books.

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