Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Google in Control?

Will Google have exclusive control of Public Domain and/or out of print books? I don't see how it is possible. Anyone who wishes can scan PD books and, with permission, scan and post out of print books still protected by copyright.

The copyright owners (publishers and authors) can themselves limit the kind of access made available—anything from those small "glimpses" (images of a portion of a page) to partial content, to complete books.

What remains uncertain is how Google intends to meter books. To really make money, they must limit user access in a particular way, then charge to remove the limit. Someone—an executive at Random House, I believe—suggested that Google levy a small charge for any look inside a book. I expect this will provoke protests from the public, the reaction being that anyone should be able to browse books online, just as in bookstores or libraries. And, really, reading a few pages can help one make an informed decision on a novel or a non-fiction book.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Library Books Don't Get No Respect

Over the past decade I've seen too many library books that haven't been taken care of by borrowers. The problem is not torn pages or writing on the books, though I see that, too. The biggest problem I see (and frequently) is what you might call "foreign matter" on book pages.

Sometimes it looks like food--grease and stains and blobs of unidentifiable substances. (At least, I hope it's food; the alternative is even more disgusting.) Occasionally there will be a dead insect, or maybe a lone wing or portion of a carapace--all that's left of a bug that landed on a page and was crunched by a reader.

And then there are the unpleasant odors drifting from opened books ... I have had to put a few out in the open air before I could read them.

Can you people take better care of the books you borrow? The occasional coffee or soda stain I can understand. But what I'm finding on pages nowadays is the result of sheer carelessness. Try not treating library books like they're your own. Treat them like they belong to someone else--someone you respect.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Magazines at Google Books

Interesting resources at Google Books lately:
Billboard (1945 on)
Publishers Weekly (back to the 1880s)
Library Journal

And lots more, including Ebony, Jet, Popular Science, and others that you might not expect. Take a stroll through http://books.google.com.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

ABCNews.com and the Internet's Birthday

The lead technology story at ABCNews.com today is about the 40th Anniversary of the Internet. I'm quoted therein; hence, my special interest in this piece. The article begins, "Though it might try to hide its graying hairs, it was 40 years ago today that computer scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, established a network connection between two computers ...."

And, indeed, it is almost as if the origins of the Internet are hidden from contemporary view, though not by any intent. I expect that the facts of the existence of early computer networks (ARPANet, the Internet, consumer online services like CompuServe, and many other types of telecomputing nets) have been displaced in the public mind by the many glitzy developments on the Web in over the past decade and more.

Further, the story is so complicated that the majority of attempts to chronicle it end up focusing on one or two elements. For instance, you can read a half-dozen randomly selected books that purport to tell the history of the Internet and the Web, and come away thinking there was nothing until ARPAnet (online content existed years before that great experiment), the World Wide Web (a johnny-come-lately in 1992), and AOL (whose predecessors go back to 1978) are the full story. It's far from that; get a copy of On the Way to the Web at your local library (or from the publisher, or wherever) to see what I mean. In the meantime, read the ABCNews.com story. In addition to providing the facts and milestones, the story (and those to which it links) offers a handy list of milestones along the way to the Web.

Happy Birthday(s) to the Internet!

Happy Birthday, Internet! September 2, 1969 was the date that the first two ARPAnet computers were connected at UCLA. Those were UCLA's Sigma-7 mainframe and the Internet Message Processor (IMP) that would connect with the network-to-be.

But some mark the beginning of the Internet as the day the first message was transmitted between network nodes: UCLA to Stanford. That was October 29, 1969. So, we have two birthdays. Some media are citing Sept. 2, while UCLA will hold the official 40th anniversary celebration on Oct. 29.

Significantly, Leonard Kleinrock, director of the project, says of the transmission on Oct. 29, "That was the first breath of life the Internet ever took."

But, he also notes, it was on Sept. 2, 1969, that data bits first moved between two machines—UCLA's Sigma and its IMP. For still more facts, see: http://internetanniversary.cs.ucla.edu/slides/internet35/kleinrock_welcome.pdf

All the details are in my book, On the Way to the Web. Have a look and decide for yourself. (For more blasts from the online past, follow mikebanks on twitter.)