antipaucity

fighting the lack of good ideas

libraries should be print-on-demand centers – especially for old/unusual works

Want to reinvigorate old texts and library patronage? Turn libraries into print-on-demand book “publishers” for works in the public domain and/or which aren’t under copyright in the current country and/or some kind of library version of CCLI churches use for music!

This idea came to me after reading this blog post from the Internet Archive (famous for the Wayback Machine).

Libraries have always bought publisher’s products but have traditionally offered alternative access modes to these materials, and can again. As an example let’s take newspapers. Published with scoops and urgency, yesterday is “old news,” the paper it was printed on is then only useful the next day as “fish wrap”– the paper piles up and we felt guilty about the trash. That is the framing of the publisher: old is useless, new is valuable.

…the library is in danger in our digital world. In print, one could keep what one had read. In digital that is harder technically, and publishers are specifically making it harder.

So why not enable a [modest] money-making function for your local library? With resources from places like the Internet Archive, the Gutenberg Project, Kindle free books, blog posts, and on and on – there’s a veritable cornucopia of formerly-available (or only digitally-available) material that has value, but whose availability is sadly lacking: especially for those who don’t have reliable internet access, eReaders, etc. (Or folks like me who don’t especially like reading most books (especially fiction) on a device.)

I’d wager Creative Commons could gin-up some great licenses for this!

Who’s with me‽

the jetsons used cash

They had flying cars. That would fold-up into a briefcase.

They had magic bubbles that’d pop out from their fingers to shroud themselves on their floaty-seats that delivered them to school or the mall.

But they used cash. Really? With all the crazy futuristic stuff they tried to wedge into that program, the creators thought we’d still be using cash in a flying-car future?

Maybe they were onto something. Cash does have the value of being tangible, and not being tracked.

after “the cloud”

Cloud computing has been hyped for the last decade+.

For those few of you haven’t heard of it and understand it, cloud computing is a computing-as-a-utility concept wherein compute (and storage) happens on systems which you may not own. That’s it.

So – now that we’ve been offloading our storage, computing, and other tasks to others in an on-demand manner, what is next?

When computing started, it was centralized, you worked on terminals (that communicated right back to the central machine), and did not “own” any of the work at your local work station.

Then we moved into the PC era where computing was done locally, and we only saved data to a server if “we wanted to be backed up”.

Now we’re moving back into a centralized (and distributed at the same time) computing environment where we can access the same document on our iPad and laptop and twelve other people can see it at the same time, too (eg Google Docs).

We are moving more and more toward ubiquitous computing – smartphones, tablets, laptops, PCs, servers, cars, everything we own is becoming computing-aware (also related: the “internet of things“).

What’s going to come after the cloud hype dies out and we’re back to “business as usual”? Well, other than some as-yet-unnamed term becoming the hot topic du jour – nothing. Computing hasn’t changed in the last 50 years except to become faster, smaller, and more prevalent.

Where computing happens will always depend on the given job at hand – we will centralize when it makes sense, we will distribute when it makes sense, and we will localize when it makes sense.

The real concern for the next decade is data security and integrity. It doesn’t matter where you store your data, or how you process it: if you cannot rely on its accuracy, integrity, and safety, it’s just so much noise.

If you can’t access it when you want need, you’ve already lost.