The Universal Library
There's an article published in the New York Times today that anyone who thinks about the evolution of the Internet should read.
Writer Kevin Kelly from Wired magazine takes a look at the efforts by Google and others to create digital copies of the world's books. This movement is the next step towards preserving human civilization's collective knowledge and creativity in an interconnected, searchable form. This "universal library" would theoretically be a massive bulk of information, of which the Internet we've come to know would only be a module. Think of the Library of Alexandria, multiplied several million times, that would encompass every book, magazine, video, audio recording, broadcast, and webpage on the planet. Calling it "The Wayback Machine's mutant offspring with Google and the U.S University Library System, pumped up on steroids that would've caused the Governator to explode out of his skin" would be an understatement.
But, like most of the forward-looking projects regarding copyrighted intellectual material, there are a lot of complications. Some of the people suing Google over its efforts, for example, are the same people the search giant is collaborating with on this project. There's also the twisted issue of copyright, and the millions upon millions of books that have slipped into the dark, that will be lost forever if these projects don't succeed.
It's a fascinating, very thought-provoking piece, also available online for your reading pleasure.
Many thanks to the friend of mine who pointed me to this article.