Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How Google Disrespected Mexican History

Just out: a profoundly important article by historian Richard J. Salvucci, about what happened to one of the priceless treasures of Mexican archives.

It should make us question the easy assumptions that digitalizing documents and books saves them for eternity, and so cheaply (a big argument thse days for cash-strapped libraries). Digitalization is more fragile, for both technical and economic reasons, than we often suppose-- and this story Salvucci tells about the sad odyssey of Paper of Record is a stunning example of that.

P.S. I have a deep affection and appreciation for old-fashioned libraries, having benefitted so much from so many of them. This is one of the reasons why my publishing firm, Dancing Chiva Literary Arts, while specializing mainly in e-books, will also be publishing limited editions beginning next year. I wonder whether e-books as we know them today will be around in even a few more years. Will the 2020 version of the Kindle or Nook download ancient (circa 2010) e-book libraries? Most people over the age of 25 have stories about once pricey but suddenly obsolete computers and computer paraphernalia. (Anyone still reading floppy discs?) In sum, as genuinely enthused as I am about digitalization, we must never forget the immense value of old-fashioned, you-can-actually-go-there-and-actually-touch-it archives and libraries.

More anon.