November 15, 2007 issue. This file presents an archive copy of the issue of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which was distributed via email on November 15, 2007.
Versions of the following have appeared online regularly, since 1992, as a feature of the FYI France ejournal, ISSN 1071-5916, which is distributed for free via email every month except August. Ejournal subscriptions may be obtained via email request to: email@example.com
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Google now offers its "My Library" feature, a user's online utility for gaining access to, and to some extent organizing, and even for using, all of those famously-digitized texts...
If you go to Google, and sign-in, then click on Books, then look something up, you will see a link for Add To My Library -- now clicking on that link adds the entry to your My Library page, which you thenceforth can view each time you sign-in to Google.
So in my own Google My Library I now find -- any time I'd like to read it, 24/7, from anywhere -- GoogleBook's
1831 edition of "Notre-Dame de Paris"... courtesy of the Bodleian, the Taylorian, and Charles Gosselin Libraire,
"oeuvres complètes, cinquième édition, tome deuxième"... It is magical, and magnificent: Paris, the hunchback, the
pretty gypsy and her little goat, and,
"Il y avait seize ans, à l'époque où
se passe cette histoire, que par un beau
matin de dimanche de la Quasimodo une
créature vivant avait été déposée, après
la messe, dans l'église de Notre-Dame..."
"Il y avait seize ans, à l'époque où
Google's My Library page is designed to be one-stop-shopping for reading & research: there at one online site, easily bookmarked and accessed, you now have --
-- and also -- note this particularly, for what follows --
Think of My Library on Google as a sort of updated & online digital version of the old Norton Critical Edition series, which since the 1960s (?) has provided literature students with the context surrounding a given Famous Text, at least indicating research pathways & possibilities which a student might pursue.
This time, tho, it's all "live" -- online, out there somewhere in the Internet aether -- and so far more of it is available, now, than ever before; and all far more accessible, within easy reach of any student or general reader -- the Norton editors' research dream come home to roost on the reader's desk, then, and more recently (see below) even just in the palm of her/his hand.
Those are the good parts. There still are a few problems, plus inevitable wish-lists:
But one must be entirely in the "digital world" to take full advantage: so until that world and the previous of cardboard & paper get entirely merged, there will be transition-problems of incompatibilities and shortcuts -- a lot of the older world's materials will get "left out", in other words, unfound or overlooked or simply omitted, until it is digitized. The more's the pity, then, as so little of it is digitized, so far.
"The Scarlet Pimpernel crushing Quatre-vingt-treize
-- the valiant British aristocrats triumphing over the
bloody Jacobins -- the guillotine obscuring The Rights of
Man and the brilliant contributions of the Convention..."
[J-N Jeanneney in Le Monde, Jan 24 2005, tr. JK]
-- as well the Baroness might emerge, via search algorithms based upon "popularity", or per databases containing greater numbers of her popular text versus that of Hugo.
Datamining needs to know what's in the mine... IBM's old "garbage in / garbage out" axiom still governs... the digital world is not too "information overloaded", yet, to disregard this old truth.
Photographs, and certainly digital images with all their possibilities for "enhancement" plus temptations for doing so, represent the paper original imperfectly, from any specialist's point of view. There always are the immense possibilities of "the hair which fell on the slide", or the "inkblot", or the "food stain": digital correction of any of these removes clues, or adds them in where they don't really exist -- and so suddenly we may have a version of Shakespeare which did not in fact take place, or an entire edition which seems not to have occurred but did.
Digital access to old texts can enhance the preservation of the originals, as many have noted: via temperature controls, HVAC, fewer sticky user fingers on the precious texts, and so on. But we have to do things right: digitize without damaging, preserve the "print" originals in elaborate archives -- *and* still make them easily-accessible to scholars, & also to students, & even to nous autres who may wish to see them.
The old tree that fell unheard in the forest never fell, and the old un-read printed text never was printed. If the old printed texts get destroyed, or even just concealed from public view, much about them and about us will be lost, in our current craze to digitize them all.
A Methodological Note:
So it's still the grand old text,
"Il y avait seize ans, à l'époque où
se passe cette histoire, que par un beau
matin de dimanche de la Quasimodo..."
"Il y avait seize ans, à l'époque où
-- only this time it's being read by a user on a tiny, shiny, silvery iPhone touchscreen, many thousands of miles away from the Ile de la Cité, in a different time zone and in a strange culture. The paradigms are new, but it's still the same text...
The provenance appears to be V.Hugo to the Frères Gosselin, to numerous sellers and resellers in Paris and perhaps elsewhere, finally to a library in Oxford or the New York Public Library or similar, and now via the Google scanners and Apple's little iPhone to me on my Noe Valley San Francisco street-bench...
But is it still the same text, really?
I wonder what Victor Hugo had in mind, for example, when he composed the words he wrote. Poets do craft their words with the reader in mind, also considering the medium and the setting and sometimes even the occasion -- to suit same, or sometimes deliberately not to suit it. And so too with other authors.
But per much recent scholarship it no longer is the author's "text", perhaps... So maybe the occasion & setting & reader & even the writer no longer matter so much. Some have encouraged us to believe that this is so: where better to test this thesis, then -- the alienation in it, the personalization too -- than sitting on a bench on the other side of the planet from the original location, reading the thing in digits, an occasion & setting & medium surely not contemplated by the writer in 1831.
So much has changed, in my user's experience of reading Hugo's text. There is no cardboard & paper "book" any longer, but oh yes there is the original mise en page, of the Gosselins and their editors and layout designers and typesetters and printers: the Google presentation carefully preserves that. I even can read the text in accented ASCII Times Roman French instead or in addition, if I wish. To me there is reassurance in the old 19th century font and layout -- they seem genuine, for an 1831 text, like using "real" sash windows with lead weights, and true-measure timbers -- although to others this might not be important.
The experience of reading is like the legendary layers of the onion, maybe: layers of interceding and interfering delivery - mechanisms -- editors, publishers, printers, paper pages, fonts and layouts and standards, and library classification systems and cataloging hundreds of years of rules and regulations -- all now "peeled back", by the innovations of the digital age.
To be replaced by something better... Or that last is, perhaps, "the rub" in the whole digital question: authors and readers may be communicating more directly, now, across the spaces and the ages -- I see the same fonts Hugo himself saw in early editions of his work, now thanks to GoogleBooks easily and inexpensively. As recently as the 1960s this would not have been available to a student not enrolled in a fancy school with privileged access to a Famous Text. So there has been some democratization, here.
At the same time, though, come new restrictions: the new tools are not always cheap -- iPhones can cost over US$500, and their connection fees can run US$75 per month and more -- and there are new bottlenecks and access ethics, as the BnF président points out, and as US politicians recently have been grappling at with the CEO of Yahoo -- and preservation of the old paper texts is not yet a sure thing, anywhere. So we may, yet, have to reinvent wheels in a number of vital areas -- may suffer the repetition of historical mistakes, for our failure to have studied the history -- the digital innovations may not spare us all that.
But we're certainly trying, at least: our 21st century Globalization's vaunted "market capitalism" machine is hard at work, now, extending the reach of the new "handheld" platform for All Things Digital -- in several proprietary guises -- iPhones,
"...Apple launches iPhone in Europe"
By Matt Moore AP Business Writer, 11/09/2007
"Customers in Germany and Britain lined up to buy the
iPhone as it debuted there Friday... Apple hopes to sell
10 million iPhones in 2008... France Telecom will sell
the iPhone in France through its Orange wireless arm,
starting Nov. 29..."
"China Mobile in talks... on iPhone launch in China"
By Yun-Hee Kim, Nov 12, 2007 Macau, China -- MarketWatch
"China Mobile Ltd... is in talks with Apple Inc. to bring
the iPhone to China... plans to launch the device in
Asia in 2008 and is in talks with various operators..."
-- and in other formats, seemingly less-proprietary but not always so -- "open systems" having a spotty record for remaining "open", in digital information history -- better called "competitive-response" then, maybe --
"Google Releases Android SDK, Offers $10 Million
By Richard Martin, InformationWeek, November 12, 2007
"Pressing forward in its campaign to transform the mobile industry, Google on Monday announced the first release of the software development kit (SDK) for Android, the mobile-device operating system announced last week.
"... important milestone for the Open Handset Alliance [Aplix, Ascender, Audience, Broadcom, China Mobile, eBay, Esmertec, HTC, Intel, KDDI, LivingImage, LG, Marvell, Motorola, etc., etc.], the industry consortium organized by Google to bring innovative new mobile devices to market faster and cheaper..."
-- plus see also (featuring Google's Sergey Brin!),
-- altho cf., too,
"Google's Latest Efforts Test the Open Waters"
By Bryan Gardiner, Wired, 11.09.07
"In the span of just two weeks, Google has launched two major open source efforts with a ragtag group of partners, both without any obvious or immediate payoff for Google itself.
"It's a classic move: A giant company, looking to dominate a market where it has little presence, spins out an ostensibly collaborative project that it hopes will give it a foot in the door. IBM, Sun, Novell and even Microsoft have all played the open source card this way in the past... the potential payoff is huge, albeit in the distant future, and the immediate risks are low. In the best-case scenario, Google gains entrance to lucrative mobile and social-networking markets..."
-- with the latest and I personally believe the best thinking being, in this new "handheld" platform market competition,
"Google Phone Systems Seen Complementing, Not Competing
November 14, 2007 San Francisco -- Dow Jones
"Google Inc.'s Android cellphone initiative doesn't appear to be quite the rival to Apple Inc.'s trend-setting iPhone as some first speculated.
"Rather, as more details emerge about Google's Android system, it is becoming clearer that Google and Apple are targeting different segments of the cellphone market...
"'We believe Google is working with, not against, Apple in the mobile world,' said Piper Jaffray & Co. analyst Gene Munster..."
-- a.k.a., "Many small fish, very large pond". The *handheld*, iPhone & other, may be the new digital information "platform". But the big news really is its globalization, as inexpensive versions increasingly turn up everywhere on the planet.
Because now digital information is hitting Nigeria, too: per the following from no less than "Xinhuanet" -- not a story or source which the pre-digital 1960s world ever could have imagined --
"Nigerian libraries to go on-line by 2008"
Abuja, Nov. 11 -- Xinhua
"All Nigerian libraries under the management of the National Library of Nigeria (NLN) will be linked to the Internet by 2008, a government official said here on Sunday... this will allow Nigerians to access foreign journals and books in 20 libraries located in 20 states of the federation. 'Linking the libraries to the Internet is the first step toward the actualization of the National Virtual Library project for the country,' he said..."
-- and as Nigeria goes so goes Senegal, and Tamil Nadu, and Sinkiang, too...
At this very moment, then, if the business news sites are to be believed anyway, Nokia & Siemens/Sony & Vodafone & Palm/Treo & RIM/Blackberry and many others are dumping enormous numbers of cellphones onto the former-Third World, in a soaring global race for position in the new handheld "platform" digital information market... Apple has just a small part in the high-end of that race, so far, as so perhaps does Google with its "Android".
There are a lot more users in that Third World than there are in Worlds #1&2 combined, or in any other global population configuration. Thank goodness at least Xinhuanet, itself Third World or formerly-so, is aware of this and is paying attention.
So, "information overload"? We ain't seen nothing yet. Good luck with the "datamining" when those data quantities begin rolling in.
> Sent from my iPhone
-- via gmail, I think, or maybe it was unix or some clone or client, I forget. Those things all are starting to look alike...
But at least the inimitable Victor Hugo still looks like, and *only* like -- "Ceci tuera cela"... -- Victor Hugo.
FYI France (sm)(tm) e-journal ISSN 1071-5916 * | FYI France (sm)(tm) is a monthly electronic | journal published since 1992 as a small-scale, | personal experiment, in the creation of large- | scale "information overload", by Jack Kessler. / \ Any material written by me which appears in ----- FYI France may be copied and used by anyone for // \\ any good purpose, so long as, a) they give me --------- credit and show my email address, and, b) it // \\ isn't going to make them money: if it is going to make them money, they must get my permission in advance, and share some of the money which they get with me. Use of material written by others requires their permission. FYI France archives may be found at http://email@example.com/ (BIBLIO-FR archive), or http://listserv.uh.edu/archives/pacs-l.html (PACS-L archive), or http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/Collections/FYIFrance/ or http://www.fyifrance.com . Suggestions, reactions, criticisms, praise, and poison-pen letters all gratefully received at firstname.lastname@example.org . Copyright 1992- , by Jack Kessler, all rights reserved except as indicated above.
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