What if Socrates went digital?

Dan Cohen and Roy Rosenzweig in Digital History (Univ of Penn: 2006), skirt around the issue of historians fusing with computer science. Historians of the future will need minors in computer science in order to integrate history into the digital world. The technological side will provide an advantage in hiring, as well as in organizing and designing new media that will take history in a future direction.

The authors bring up other issues: how will research change if there is more access to documents and primary sources? Will there be less experts in the historic field, milling around museums and libraries, and how will this change the way those collections are maintained?

Is there value in losing history? Should all history be accessible and recorded? What is Socrates or Pythagoras had a blog? Would this lend or detract from what we presume to know about either or Greek history and philosophy? What about corporate sponsors and funding, will this help or hinder those who are non-profit or independent? (see other blog on specifics of History Channel). How to compete as a historic website in the world of search engines like Google?

While it is interesting to conceive of a huge, modern Alexandria, one that Google is amassing, but what if a solar flare takes it out, then what? Putting it all into one area can lead to the issue of control and censorship. Perhaps one day, Google decides to charge for access to the world’s books? Copyright infringement is an issue and regardless of the legal loops and jumps, authors are being stripped of legal control over their books, why? So we can have access to a mammoth library, owned by a corporate company making money from adverts and stocks?

Google states that its books are on “limited preview,” much like it is on Amazon.com, but this isn’t true. Check out Duma Key Stephen King’s release this year. It is supposed to be limited preview, but you will note that you can view all 600 pages. http://books.google.com/books?id=EzJFPz4qVOoC&pg=PP1&dq=duma+key&client=firefox-a&sig=ACfU3U2ZceMsqDxDNPO6wq3sOZTC8F16gg#PPA594,M1


King should really be the one reading the following articles.



I am happy to be aware of this, but in the large scheme of things why is it being allowed?

I emailed the Google Librarian to note the copyright infringement on King’s book. Let’s see if they respond. I will also post on King’s blog and see what kind of discussion evolves. http://www.stephenking.com/forums/index.php


~ by disembodiedspirit on September 13, 2008.

5 Responses to “What if Socrates went digital?”

  1. “While it is interesting to conceive of a huge, modern Alexandria, one that Google is amassing, but what if a solar flare takes it out, then what? Putting it all into one area can lead to the issue of control and censorship.”

    Yes but listen to what you are saying. Before books were scanned uploaded to the internet (a decentralized network mind you), where were they? What if a fire or bomb wiped out any of the great libraries of the world? To me it seems more obvious that in a non digital state they are more vulnerable. A quick search turned up this article about the
    2004 Anna-Amalia Library fire that destroyed 30,000 priceless books dating back to the 16th

  2. Having thought further about this, I think what is needed is an international organization that servers to facilitate a global networking of the worlds libraries digitized media. This organization would ensure that everything is stored on redundant servers across the globe and be accessible from one webportal. Also this would allay any fears such as the one scenario mentioned where Google would decide to charge a fee. I’ve found that a lot of Libraries have been going digital, but it seems there isn’t much coordination amongst them. This would serve as a sort of Interpol for libraries. Funding for this…lets call it “Librarypol” would funnel from the member countries governments and or their libraries or universities etc. This might also help to negate the necessity of a historian having to technologically inclined, as this organization would carry out the digital integration if necessary. In regards to the protection of intellectual property, perhaps some things will only be accessible at physical locations or via a temporary account that one must request and verify ones identity for. The key to this is that it has to all be done on redundant servers so that if one part of this network goes down nothing is lost. To be fair Google is probably good at this but I think the part they may be missing is the coordination of the worlds libraries.

  3. Yesterday Phillipp Lenssen posted an article on Searchnewz.com that may shed some light on Googles intentions regarding their book scanning project: A Google employee is quoted to have said, We are not scanning all those books to be read by people … We are scanning them to be read by an AI.

  4. I agree that we have to find a way to safeguard digital resources, but that is what “backing up” is for. We have thought of this. As noted above, should we not print books in fear that the place that houses them could burn down? Sure, there are risks to digitization. We have heard them all before. But they do not overshadow the rewards, and that is what we need to keep in mind.

    I sure wish Socrates had a blog. I would love to know what he was thinking. I bet he could answer a lot of questions modern day historians still have.

  5. Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

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