Monday, May 15, 2006

Article: Scan This Book!

This is an interesting New York Times article to read or skim. Here are some quotes that stood out to me:
  • Corporations and libraries around the world are now scanning about a million books per year.
  • Superstar, an entrepreneurial company based in Beijing, has scanned every book from 200 libraries of all kinds in China. It has already digitized 1.3 million unique titles in Chinese, which it estimates is about half of all the books published in the Chinese language since 1949. It costs $30 to scan a book at Stanford but only $10 in China. {This quote includes the correction published on the NYT web site.}
  • The arsenal of our current display technology — from handheld gizmos to large flat screens — is already good enough to move books to their next stage of evolution: a full digital scan.
  • Turning inked letters into electronic dots that can be read on a screen is simply the first essential step in creating this new library. The real magic will come in the second act, as each word in each book is cross-linked, clustered, cited, extracted, indexed, analyzed, annotated, remixed, reassembled and woven deeper into the culture than ever before. In the new world of books, every bit informs another; every page reads all the other pages.
  • The link and the tag may be two of the most important inventions of the last 50 years.
  • ...the universal library of all books will cultivate a new sense of authority. If you can truly incorporate all texts — past and present, multilingual — on a particular subject, then you can have a clearer sense of what we as a civilization, a species, do know and don't know.

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