[Foundation-l] 6 reasons we're in another book-burning periodin history

Phil Nash phnash at blueyonder.co.uk
Fri Oct 14 23:49:14 UTC 2011

geni wrote:
> On 14 October 2011 21:10, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I love Cracked. It's Wikipedia with dick jokes.
>> http://www.cracked.com/article_19453_6-reasons-were-in-another-book-burning-period-in-history_p2.html
>> To be ha ha only serious for a moment, this touches on why we all
>> bother doing this.
> Doubtful. Heck to some extent its probably our fault. Why bother
> holding books on say warships when Wikipedia already provides an
> unreasonable amount of information about them. So out go the old
> warship annuals. Except they don't even bother to remove them from the
> catalog (me bitter?)

My view is that they should be kept, at least to assist in applying 
verifiability policies, and if necessary, assessing neutrality. Not every 
source is online, nor is necessarily going to be, even with increasing 
digitisation of original sources. Copyright time limits mean that it may be 
many years before they are eligible for Wikisource, or Commons, and in the 
meantime, we seem to be limited to online extracts, citations in other 
works, or the originals. This is particularly true of ephemeral media such 
as newspapers, although I am aware that the British Library only has issues 
going back to 1840 
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Library#Newspapers), but that might be 
enough for most purposes.

> There is relatively little destruction of actual information going on.
> As well as a lot of the stuff being fiction the non-fiction stuff is
> mostly one of multiple copies.

I agree, but we have no way of knowing. However, lots of non-fiction is 
never going to achieve notability, so that may not be a great loss.

> The problem is it does cause is that the information is increasingly
> locked up. Paper archives have for the last decade or so one of the
> loopholes in payways. With the removal of such archives the paywalls
> become more controlling.

Similarly, state-controlled/funded archives are vulnerable, in the extreme, 
to manipulation and/or destruction. And in the UK at least, all significant 
archives (British Library/local libraries/universities) are pretty dependent 
on public funding. Without a truly independent, privately funded, more or 
less complete archive of everything, there is always a risk of attrition for 
one reason or another.

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