There’s a natural duty to make what is known searchable

Science is on a long-term campaign to bring all knowledge in the world into one vast, interconnected, footnoted, peer-reviewd web of facts. Independent facts, even those that make sense in their own world, are of little value to science. (The pseudo- and para-sciences are nothing less, in fact, than small pools of knowledge that are not connected to the large network of science.) In this way, every new observation or bit of data brought into the web of science enhances the value of all other data points. In science, there’s a natural duty to make what is known searchable. No one argues that scientists should be paid when someone finds or duplicates their results. Instead, we’ve devised other ways to compensate them for their vital work. They’re rewarded for the degree to which their work is cited, shared, linked, and connected in their publications, which they don’t own. They’re financed with extremely short patent monopolies for their ideas, short enough to inspire them to invent more, sooner. To a large degree, scientists make their living by giving away copies of their intellectual property. What is this technology telling us? Copies don’t count anymore; copies of isolated books, bound between inert covers, soon won’t mean much. Copies of their texts, however, will gain in meaning as they multiply by the millions and are flung around the world, indexed, and copied again. What counts are the ways in which these common copies of a creative work can be linked, manipulated, tagged, highlighted, bookmarked, translated, enlivened by other media, and sewn together in the universal library.

The only way for books to retain their waning authority in our culture is to wire texts into this library. The reign of the copy is no match for the bias of technology. All new works will be born digital, and they will flow into the library as you might add more words to a long story. In the clash between the conventions of the book and protocols of the screen, the screen will prevail. On this screen, now visible to a billion people, the technology of search will transform isolated books into the universal library of all human knowledge.

— Reality Hunger

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s