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----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Thom Pease" <[log in to unmask]>
> Here are some advantages of printed books, at least
> when owned by a person (not a library), for a Friday
> afternoon ala David Letterman:
> 
And my comments, interspersed...
> TOP FIVE ADVANTAGES OF PRINTED BOOKS
> 1) You never have to replace it with a battery, or
> worry about erasing the content.
The second half isn't entirely true...although it is hard to
ERASE text in a printed book, it's very easy to render the book
unusable!
> 2) You own every square inch of that book, and you can
> sell or lend it to anyone you want. No insipid
> licensing agreements attached (except for copyright
> laws). You can mash it up (real cutting and pasting),
> annotate it, add bookmarks, without having to download
> one piece of software, update drivers, and search for
> content using these amazing tools called tables of
> contents and indexes!
"Except for copyright laws" is an important issue here...
especially if you're using the book for research in a project
which will create another book! "Mashing it up" can impair
its usefulness (there are two sides to EVERY page...!) and
the bookmarks lose their value after the cat knocks it to
the floor. Also, not all books have indexes...and those that
do often have incorrect indexes!
> 3) I can lose a book and be out $x dollars, but not
> lose personal data, or an expensive (at least for the
> near-term) machine.
But...if you lose an out-of-print book (i.e. ADBD) you're
"out" access to all that information until when/if you can
locate a replacement (at a "rare book" price?!). And if you
can manage to lose your laptop (unless you have to surrender
it at gunpoint?!) you're WAY too careless...
> 4) I can manage the "item" very well in my collection
> of bookcases (which might grow to fill a house
> someday).
But I have a half-vast archive of books...and a serious bookcase
shortage! Besides, if the paper archive grows like the shellac archive...
> 5) If you spill something on it, you don't disable
> your entire library.
That's why I acquire extra keyboards (most likely spill victims)
when I see them for $1 or $2...
> 
> TOP FIVE ADVANTAGES OF PRINTED REFERENCE BOOKS:
> 1) It's always available on my shelf.
IF you put it back...and in the right place...the last time
you used it! And if that shelf is in a library, there is no
guarantee it will always be there. Whereas, my digital copy
is equally "always" on my hard drive or CD-ROM...
> 2) It slows me down enough to do good research,
> produce excellent citations, and synthesize
> information.
If you have to be "slowed down" to do that, you may be in
the wrong dommed business! As well, if the item you need isn't
in the index...but is *probably* somewhere in a 4000-page
reference work (you think)...well, get ready to peruse EVERY
page...
> 3) If I can't find it on any page, I know for certain
> that it's not there. 
Or that you just happened to miss it in your search...you
can't be 100% sure until you KNOW you have looked at every
line on every page! In a digital search, you also have the
option of searching for likely misspellings...
> 4) It shows other people that I'm a book person. :)
Only if you make sure you have at least one book under your
arm whenever you depart your abode! As well, one can cite
information read in digital "books" as convincingly as one
can do so with real ones (if you have to show your conversation-
mate the actual text, you'll need to carry every book you own
in case you need any of them...)
> 5) Odd information always sounds more interesting when
> you discover it randomly.
I can discover as much, if not more, random data in a visit to the
Internet than a visit to the local library! In fact, I often avoid
the Internet because I know I'll find so many interesting odds & ends
I'll never get around to the task at hand...
> 
> Thom Pease* (a digital librarian, but an analog
> curmudgeon)
> Library of Congress
> Washington, DC
> 
> * Just one librarian's opinion.
> 
Back in 1989, when I acquired my first computer, I was given dBASE III+
and painstakingly entered a lot of the Plaza matrix listings and the
data in the "Perfect issue" from Record Research. As slow as dBASE is
on a 80286, it was still a LOT faster than paging through all the
separate pages in separate RR issues that made up the Plaza data,
looking to see if a certain tune had been recorded, and if so, by
whom! With the (archaic) computer, all I had to do was tell it to
use the index I had created on the TITLE field, wait a couple of
minutes while it processed my request, and then see the titles in
the list neatly alphabetized by song title (my data-entry errors
were quickly found, since "Xtardust" shows up obviously in the
wrong place...!). From that point on, I was convinced!

Steven C. Barr