Tag Archives: libraries

There’s a Whole World Out There

The effect of finding out that there’s a wealth of information that is openly available:

To me, this was a little like the first human sighting of the Antarctic land mass in 1820: proof that a huge terra incognita existed just over the horizon, awaiting exploration.(Peter Suber, SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 11/2/06
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This is an important feeling (and an important issue). As the Gershwins had it:

I know how Columbus felt

Finding another world

The first time I recall feeling this way was at the end of the year, in elementary school. We had been using this math textbook with exercises for every chapter. It’s only during the last week of classes that I noticed that answers to the exercises could be found at the end of the book. Finding those answers was a revelation to me and I seek this discovery feeling. It’s one that I get from fiction (books, television shows, etc.). You find the key and everything falls into place.

What’s the connection, here?

Well, maybe I’m going on a limb. But I see a connection between Open Access, textbooks, and discovery. In fact, it runs through what I was trying to present this past week at the Spirit of Inquiry conference.

Sure, we all know about information overload and many of us would like authoritative filters for information. But the real point is about getting awestruck by the amount of work that has already been done. Sure, it’s intimidating when you take a look at the dusty shelves of a good size library. But we can also focus on doing something with all this information. Sure, the Encyclopedia of Life is bigger than any library, as many people keep reminding us, these days. But we can still start from access to published texts, can’t we?

Newton’s “shoulders of giants” and all that. The opposite of the forbidden library in Eco’s The Name of the Rose. Regardless of opposing views about what should be done with information, most people agree that there’s something empowering about anybody getting access to valuable information.

Some academics are “immunized” to the awe-inspiration from seeing the amount of information available. Some of them simply focus on a tiny parcel of knowledge-land they can call their own. Others insist that most information is completely relevant. Yet others think about knowledge in less of an information-processing model.

That’s why I think that making resources openly and publicly available is more important for students than for tenured professors.

Yes, I do care about students.


Siva on Open Access

SABREOCRACY.NET (formerly SIVACRACY.NET): An Important Message for the Folks at Google

All I’m asking for is full access for the public to government documents on Google BookSearch. These documents are in the public domain and therefore should not be limited by claims of copyright, by Google or by the Library Partners.

IMHO, these issues will eventually be solved, regardless of the source.


Music, Food, Industries, Piracy

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Noticed it in Steal This Film. A very appropriate message. Process over product. Music is not a commodity. Food does not grow on profits.

Blogged with Flock


These Are a Few of My Favourite Books

Here are my current Listmania Lists on Amazon. Nothing fancy yet. Will definitely have to edit it, adding comments, sorting books more carefully. And there’s no real discovery there, as most of these books and authors are well-known and somewhat older.

These are mostly fiction and literature, though there’s a couple “non-fiction” books in there. Have mostly read books in French, so my favourites in French already amount to two lists (of 25 books each). Some of these books were in another language originally. As a French-speaker, it’s my policy to either read books in the original or in a French translation.

Could really go on and on, there. Some of these authors have been quite prolific and my taste for their books isn’t limited to one or two. Boris Vian is one of them. He also wrote important songs, books about Jazz, drama, short stories, etc. Though he was a «zazou» (“zoot”) and appreciated many parts of U.S. culture, his work is really tied to the French language and, apparently, his work has almost no equivalent in English.

Other authors whose complete works I’ve read or tried to read: Guy de Maupassant, Marcel Proust, Jean Giono, Maurice Leblanc, Marcel Pagnol, Douglas Adams, Woody Allen, John Irving, Robertson Davies, and “Alfred Hitchcock” (actually, a series of children/teenage books written by ghost writers under Hitchcock’s name). Should really do a kind of chronological list. Might even do something similar for music, though that might be more time-consuming (been listening to a lot of quite diverse music for a while).

Ah, well…