20.505 e-paper

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 07:58:16 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 505.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

   [1] From: Patrick Durusau <patrick_at_durusau.net> (58)
         Subject: Re: 20.496 e-paper

   [2] From: { brad brace } <bbrace_at_eskimo.com> (13)
         Subject: Re: 20.496 e-paper (sufi note)

         Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 07:54:54 +0000
         From: Patrick Durusau <patrick_at_durusau.net>
         Subject: Re: 20.496 e-paper


>When you realize that a brand new $400 list price terabyte drive
>will hold the million eBooks already free for the downloading...
>and that a billion eBook library will be here in 15 more years--
>along with petabyte drives--the conclusion can only be obvious.
>The only question is:
>How long can the forces of conservatism make eBooks appear quite
>as much like paper books?
>Pages, margins, page numbers, line numbers, etc. antiquated?
>Would not a few words' quotation as search inputs be better than
>a page number? Or even a line number?
Sigh, in short, NO!

I confess that I don't share your joy at the thought of a billion
eBook library, at least if it has full text searching as an interface.

Why is it so difficult to see that as the diversity of materials in
an eBook library increases that full text searching becomes nearly
useless? Have you tried to do a search of the WWW lately? What are
terms of art in a particular discipline turn up in all sorts of
resources. I don't consider getting millions of "hits" a really
useful response to a query.

I suppose if my search consisted of an accurately remembered quote
from Virgil in Latin I would probably get a useful result but I would
assume that most people aren't going to want to use a billion eBook
library to simply verify the source of quotes they already remember.

The central problem is that what is meant by authors using particular
words changes over time, place and discipline (among others). A
headlong rush to simply create eBooks without any consideration being
given to meaningful access to that material is going to result in a
billion eBook library of marginal utility.

By way of contrast, consider that the professional astronomy
community is planning now for the terabytes of data output per night
that they are expecting from the next generation of instruments.
Granted the problem there is primarily one of volume and not semantic
integration (but they have that problem as well but differently from
textual resources) but I do think it is instructive that they are
*planning* for access and not simply rushing wily-nily to create
digital versions of everything they can lay hands on.

Before any one jumps to the conclusion that I am bashing Michael or
Project Gutenberg let me say that I use Project Gutenberg. I most
recently found a copy of Boole's "Laws of Thought" and found the
final chapter very interesting. Boole puts a quite different spin on
the use of logic than many who cite his work. But note that I knew
the resource I was looking for and wasn't doing full text searching.
Project Gutenberg is an amazing achievement but I disagree with
Michael rather strongly on the question of access to such a collection.

Hope you are having a great day!


Patrick Durusau
Chair, V1 - Text Processing: Office and Publishing Systems Interface
Co-Editor, ISO 13250, Topic Maps -- Reference Model
Member, Text Encoding Initiative Board of Directors, 2003-2005
Topic Maps: Human, not artificial, intelligence at work!
         Date: Mon, 12 Mar 2007 07:55:45 +0000
         From: { brad brace } <bbrace_at_eskimo.com>
         Subject: Re: 20.496 e-paper (sufi note)
Letters written with ink (bits) do not really exist qua
letters. For the letters are but various forms to which
meanings have been assigned through convention. What really
and concretely exists is nothing but the ink. The existence
of the letters is in truth no other than the existence of
the ink which is the sole, unique reality that unfolds
itself in many forms of self-modification. One has to
cultivate, first of all, the eye to see the selfsame reality
of ink in all letters, and then to see the letters as so
many intrinsic modifications of the ink.
Insatiable Abstraction Engine:
Received on Mon Mar 12 2007 - 03:16:12 EST

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