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Old 06-13-2011, 09:05 PM   #1
wallcraft
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Internet Archive preserves paper books

From When Hard Books Disappear:
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The same guy who has been backing up the internet (yes the entire web!), and is racing Google to scan all books into digital files, has recently become concerned about the lack of a physical archive for all these digitized books. That guy is Brewster Kahle, the founder of the Internet Archive. Brewster noticed that Google and Amazon and other countries scanning books would cut non-rare books open to scan them, or toss them out after scanning. He felt this destruction was dangerous for the culture.
I don't know what to make of this. Storing stuff long term in warehouses works if the funding is there. For example, samples of the 1918 flu were warehoused by the US Armed Forces for 80+ years. Physical books can last for centuries, and the typical digital media is only designed to last for about 10 years. However, the Internet allows for many digital copies and digital archiving is also safe if the files are periodically migrated to new media.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:30 PM   #2
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That is just silly. If the intrinsic value of the physical object (the book) is high enough no one would cut it up. They would scan it page by page if they wanted to scan it. And once scanned it could be printed again.
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Old 06-13-2011, 09:51 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by speakingtohe View Post
That is just silly. If the intrinsic value of the physical object (the book) is high enough no one would cut it up. They would scan it page by page if they wanted to scan it. And once scanned it could be printed again.
what if the hard disks caught fire. ¿how would you recover the missing things?
Even nowadays, something still require physical backup (counting books, lawsuits, the writing of propierty, etc)
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Old 06-13-2011, 10:12 PM   #4
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Not to mention some things (as speakingtohe pointed out) are far to valuable to cut up. I can't see anyone cutting apart a Gutenberg Bible in order to scan it or tossing it in a trash bin after scanning either.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:03 AM   #5
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I've heard of places cutting the books to scan it. It is more efficient for them to scan in sheets, than process the book in its whole form.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:33 AM   #6
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Why would anyone care about defasing or ruining a mass produced book? It's not like a hand written origional edition or other rare object. It's like caring if someone threw paint at a print of the Mona Lisa.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:41 AM   #7
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It isn't uncommon for people doing high-volume scanning for PGDP to use destructive scanning, as it is much faster and less labour intensive.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:46 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainmaker View Post
what if the hard disks caught fire. ¿how would you recover the missing things?
What if the physical book is on fire? What if the storehouse burns down?

If you remove the foundation layer, any structure will break. Why should a physical book be inherently more secure/longliving than a physical storage for digital data?

Quote:
Even nowadays, something still require physical backup (counting books, lawsuits, the writing of propierty, etc)
Indeed. I don't think it's wise or a good idea. I don't think this stuff survives long enough to be of much use. Not to mention that some day you might want to read it without destroying it. (Crumbling, etc...)

Don't get me wrong, I like physical books and all that. But I don't understand why they're considered special and eternal.
True, old books lived a long time. But can the same be said about TODAYS books?
Somehow I don't think todays mass books will last that long - just like mass digital media doesn't.

I'm sure we can produce media that last millenia - digital or otherwise. But you'd lose the original either way, so why not use the more compact version?

--

Slightly off-topic: Why is he racing Google? Isn't that a waste of energy that could be used otherwise?

--

[edit] I too once destroyed a book to scan it. It was either that or type it by hand. I stand by my decision.
A books value is in its content, not the paper it's made of.
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Old 06-14-2011, 11:59 AM   #9
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Talking about preserving information on media... paper is actually pretty good when treated correctly... early forms include things like papyrus and old Chinese (they did invent paper after all) material that are still perfectly viable after thousands of years. Whilst the language may change, paper has a constant interface that require no work to deal with media and tech changes... The BBC (in the UK for our US cousins) set up a project called the Domesday Project to document life in the 20th Century using computers and Laser discs... then it was realised that they no longer had the means to access the material and had to scrabble round for anyone with the old equipment so they could then transfer to more modern systems but it took some time to track down. Books don't have that problem although they have problems of their own for archiving but these are well-known by now and relatively easy to handle...

The only real solution to archival survival lies in producing multiple copies in multiple formats distributed through multiple physical locations and whenever any get physically damaged/destroyed, replaced immediately...
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Old 06-14-2011, 12:25 PM   #10
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I don't think he is racing Google. Every book I've downloaded from the IA was obviously a poorly OCRed Google book.

He's piggybacking on Google, not racing it.
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Old 06-14-2011, 03:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crossi View Post
Why would anyone care about defasing or ruining a mass produced book? It's not like a hand written origional edition or other rare object. It's like caring if someone threw paint at a print of the Mona Lisa.
Problem is, some of the books being scanned are decades, or centuries old, and is one of the few extant copies remaining. One of my projects in my spare time has been making an ebook copy of Hartmann the Anarchist. Google scanned, and destroyed, a copy from 1893. That edition goes for hundreds of dollars if you can find it. The version rendered from that scanning, is almost totally unreadable, due to the number of OCR errors. Was that worth it?
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Old 06-14-2011, 04:27 PM   #12
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Aside from damaging rare books, which I would argue against, storing phyical copies good idea. I thought rare books were photographically scanned (not flat-bedded)? Most people don't realize how fragile electronic media and formats are. Good paper stored reasonably well has a track record that is at least two orders of magnitude better than ANY electronic media and format. It doesn't do a few things easily such as copying, indexing, searching and is still susceptible to flood and fire.

Come back in 100 years and we'll talk again about digital archiving. That's an extreme but the issues are already observed by many of us after only 10 to 20 years.
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Old 06-14-2011, 05:56 PM   #13
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Problem is, some of the books being scanned are decades, or centuries old, and is one of the few extant copies remaining. One of my projects in my spare time has been making an ebook copy of Hartmann the Anarchist. Google scanned, and destroyed, a copy from 1893. That edition goes for hundreds of dollars if you can find it. The version rendered from that scanning, is almost totally unreadable, due to the number of OCR errors. Was that worth it?

The Epub might be 'totally unreadable', but the PDF is a photographic copy of that book. Any book Google scans begins as a photographic PDF.

I, personally, haven't found any 'totally unreadable' epubs on Google, but I've found lots on Internet Archive, to the degree that I don't even look there anymore.

A digital file can be backed up, copied and recopied without loss of data - a copy that exists anywhere can exist everywhere.

Would I destroy the last remaining copy of a book in order to make thousands of copies available anywhere to anyone?

Why, yes. Yes, I would.
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Old 06-14-2011, 06:33 PM   #14
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The Epub might be 'totally unreadable', but the PDF is a photographic copy of that book. Any book Google scans begins as a photographic PDF.

I, personally, haven't found any 'totally unreadable' epubs on Google, but I've found lots on Internet Archive, to the degree that I don't even look there anymore.

A digital file can be backed up, copied and recopied without loss of data - a copy that exists anywhere can exist everywhere.

Would I destroy the last remaining copy of a book in order to make thousands of copies available anywhere to anyone?

Why, yes. Yes, I would.
The PDF is also fairly much garbage. One of the things I loved the most about Hartmann was the illustrations by Fred T Jane (founder of Jane's Group, responsible for illustrations and information about military craft, especially naval and air), but they're either missing, or look like crap. They were scanned in as black and white only, with high contrast (to filter out marks in the paper, etc), which is great for text but horrible for anything else.
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Old 06-14-2011, 10:25 PM   #15
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The PDF is also fairly much garbage. One of the things I loved the most about Hartmann was the illustrations by Fred T Jane (founder of Jane's Group, responsible for illustrations and information about military craft, especially naval and air), but they're either missing, or look like crap. They were scanned in as black and white only, with high contrast (to filter out marks in the paper, etc), which is great for text but horrible for anything else.

Well, then, I take it back. The artwork is just as much a part of the book as the words are, and I do agree that they should be preserved.

I still think scanning a book to make it widely available is a 'win', but it should be done in order to preserve the entire work, not just the words.
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