Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Books are the ultimate shortcut

A Manifesto for Scholarly Publishing - "In 1948, the University of Illinois Press published Claude Shannon's brief and profoundly influential book The Mathematical Theory of Communication. Shannon's work, which explained how words, sounds, and images could be converted into blips and sent electronically, presaged the digital revolution in communications."

Books are the ultimate shortcut. A book no matter how it is printed will contain a years or a decades or a lifetimes of someone else's learning and mistakes. And you can absorb all that in a matter of hours.

It's not about the media you print books on that is important but the ideas that are set down. Printing on paper in the traditional manner is pretty wasteful. Printing on Demand is way better about waste, but electronic books are the best with respect to waste you keep one copy on the server and you can make an infinite number of perfect copies. The only problem with ebooks is the memory hole problem: electronic copies can be altered without your knowledge, fixing spelling errors are one thing altering the past is something else.

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