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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So you know up front.... I'm asking this to get some data for an essay I am researching.

There are times when I am surfing around in the vast electronic warehouse of Amazon and I find something I'd like to read - many times a copy of something that would be considered quite recent- and it isn't available in e-book. One of the most frustrating things to see is that little box on the page with a link that asks me to click into it to let the publisher know that I'd like to read the book in e-book format.

And I can appreciate that there may be large bulky illustrated books where it would be too costly to have someone format it but I am mostly talking about standard fiction novels.

I wonder if there may be contractual problems that are a concern to the publisher?
Or maybe the family that handles the estate is possibly unaware ( even vaguely) about the internet?
Or the author is still alive and for whatever reason, has no desire to go through the trouble of transferring the book to make it available?
Or perhaps the original publishing house that printed the book is long gone and the book has gone out of print?

While I can appreciate the fact that even with the resources at hand today, it would be impossible to physically transfer everything in print to electronic bits and bytes just to be sure it has a footprint in history. And yet look at the works of Socrates and the like... all of that was on parchment of some kind and while I would think at the time it was thought that a few generations would still be reading the works, I doubt that anyone back THEN could have ever dreamt that those documents would have lasted all these years and still be in print. Let alone in multiple forms beyond print ( like digital and audio)

And even if we are talking about a handful of pulp novels from as close as the fifties, don't they all deserve to be preserved ?
Or were the authors simply writing to survive in order to get enough to pay rent for the next few months?

I also find it ironic that such a monumental task would have been impossible to consider before this wondrous electronic age simply because the amount of paper needed - as well as a storage facility large enough to hold even one copy each of such material would make such an idea a crazy one to contemplate.

And yet here we are in the new millennium, where, in theory, there are at this time more web paged documents- from simple blogs to scientific journals on any subject- that can be found online then there human beings on the planet. That's over 7 billion documents.
(and that could be off by a billion or so but I do remember some little factoid I read several years ago about there being more pages online then there were the population of the United States- and AT that time there were just 300 million residents here)

And I'm just throwing this on the table for conversation ( as well as self motivation to get working on this essay that I plan)

Yes, there are already a large number of books already committed to the web that can be found by anyone 24/7. But I find myself wondering about the number of books that, at the time of publication.... must have interested someone.

I should think that down the road there would be- at minimum- a classroom full of students doing a study on a certain genre from today's generation who'd be hard pressed to find anything available simply because the estate was naively unaware of the basics of the internet. Let alone the e-book phenomenon

Look at the library of Alexandria and the destruction of it and all the lost work.

At least today we have the capability of preserving our printed work on server farms.
The problem with that of course is that keeping our documents in that format relies on an unstable infrastructure that depends on electricity as well as the need to make enough servers that would hold the documents.

Or..... is it just an impossible, even unreasonable, task to expect the next generation to be responsible for securing even a portion of the works that have been created by the past generation? The works that were lost from the library of Alexandria were important in that day and while it might make for fascinating reading to a few students today- it may be just as impossible to store even a small amount of the works FROM then just as it is probably impossible to preserve every book written from our own immediate past. And dare I say- despite the fact that we DO have the capability of preserving our documents today on both paper, digitally as well as in audio, that all of it is just as fragile as the paper in the Library of Alexandria BECAUSE it is supported by a crumbling infrastructure in need of upkeep - and for far more important needs such as hospitals and even keeping running water available to a growing population- let alone making sure the three book series about a dragon that never went beyond it's second printing, is available to read?

Basically my question is...
We, today, HAVE the capability at hand to preserve as much of the documentation that our generation has produced.

We can have an electronic Alexandria. And it can be argued that we have already accomplished this since much of it stands as is on the web.

But as I said the infrastructure as it stands today, is barely keeping up with the daily needs of the society. Not just for basic reading entertainment but also for national defense, health, and just the basic daily needs of order that prevent chaos such as traffic lights etc. As we have seen the past few years, any good storm can knock millions of people in any large city off the grid for weeks at a time. A large portion of our electronic infrastructure- around the world!- is still a simplistic infrastructure of wires strung along on sticks in the ground.

But should we?
Not EVERY single book ever written can possibly be of interest to anyone 200 years from now. Can it? Should it?

Or are the works we create today simply food for the brain of OUR generation and down the road, it all becomes a part of forgotten history with only a few pieces surviving - much like the ancient works of Socrates for example-

Okay well, I suppose that's enough to get the discussion rolling for now
Thanks in advance to everyone who will take the time to participate

****And yes, I'm working on getting my signature fixed
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