Transcendental Bloviation

Politics, Space, Japan

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Novels and novelty; whither libraries?

I'm still having trouble getting used to the idea that entire, recent, good novels can be found on the Web. For example, Peter Watts' Blindsight. Available under the Creative Commons license. There is even an effort called Librivox with the mission of "acoustical liberation of books in the public domain" -- free audiobooks, read into the public domain by volunteers.

Earlier this year, we at Tama Ryokan had a guest who was in Japan to study the architecture of libraries -- a curious choice of country, given that there are fewer libraries per 100,000 people in Japan than in most developed nations. I suggested to him that the primary reason we had libraries was that we used paper books, an information technology that might not have another twenty years left it in it before it goes the way of the buggy whip. Public investment in a building for the sole purpose of storing and lending out books was not likely to be seen as a good use of public funds. He was not impressed with my argument. Then again, I didn't expect him to be.


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