BoSacks: Media Intelligence: The New Non-Obsolescence of the Written Word
The often-maligned Google Books Library Project is an example of an attempt to open up the world's most prestigious collection of books and create a global card catalog of the world's information. The publishing industry and many writers' groups have criticized the project's inclusion of copyrighted works as an infringement. These legal issues have been settled in court, but for the sake of this article, take away the legal aspects of the situation for moment and you have a long-term solution that Poggio Bracciolini sought for as access to the continuation of our human knowledge base.
If it isn't Google, someone else will follow in these necessary storage-pioneering footsteps, because our knowledge has to get recorded. In this case, Google has been in the process of digitizing the contents of prestigious university libraries such as Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, Princeton, University of Virginia, plus The New York Public Library and many more, which has exponentially broadened the original Bracciolini search project of the 1400s by creating access to tens of millions of unique and special books that were once accessible, if accessible at all, only to a small, elite group.
For the magazine industry, which has been digitized since 1996, we also need a better solution to recapture and intelligently store our vast reservoirs of lost but still retrievable data (words). Many companies are working with magazine publishers to push the availability of formerly lost published articles into a user-friendly, single searchable database. One such company is Publishers Press, which has taken all their PDF digital archives of all past printed products and produced a service called Stacks. Here is a non-Google database of magazine articles and wisdom never before available on a multitude of subjects that covers nearly everything.
We need more projects like this to rediscover all the lost magazine articles that are not available on Google and as such will be lost forever without our intentional intervention as a publishing network. I believe our industry's work, new and old, to be priceless artifacts of the human condition, and we should do our best to treat it that way. The great Poggio Bracciolini sought to recover the lost knowledge of Lucretius and the Epicurean ideas that supported freethinking and our modern way of life. With the judicious use of our magazine database cataloged and sorted, who knows what wonders are in store for us and our on-going search for why things are the way they are?