Oct 01 2009

Books and their transforming media

Published by at under books,design,media,technology

I came across an entry on Google Books, and realized they have a map with all locations mentioned in the book tagged on the map. This is a neat feature. Check out the map for Around the World in 80 Days. Certainly an interesting way to access data in a book.

I was recently reading how St. Jerome was partial to plagiarizing the hell out of Origen and other sources, in some cases most of entire biblical commentaries. The author makes the point that plagarizing was quite a bit easier in the ancient world, as there weren’t that many copies of the books floating around when each copy had to be written out by hand. Printing was one paradigm jump in text availability, and we’re now going through another one.

I hear often how the internet makes it a lot easier for people to cheat and plagarize, but I think the increased accessibility of our accumulated texts actually makes the opposite true. We’re just coming through a period where people aren’t yet submitting papers electronically, and these papers aren’t yet routinely run through a programmatic comparison with the database of all books to check for plagarism. (This won’t address paying someone to write your paper). Think of how accessible human knowledge is now compared to even 10 years ago. Doesn’t it seem astronomically harder to find plagarism if you have to look through a physical book for the copied text?

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