Kahle’s fresh idea

October 14, 2009 at 1:35 am (Uncategorized)

Flyp (the online magazine that continues to impress me) recently published a story about Brewster Kahle, the man they believe could change the world. Kahle wants to put everything ever published online so that every single person with a computer can access it. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier at this idea.

Kahle references my generation in the article as the “Wikipedia generation” and sees us as the perfect market for his idea. Kahle and his partners have been scanning, backing up, and uploading texts in order to make this idea possible. They are currently comparing their idea to the Greeks’ library of Alexandria.

If Kahle is successful, this would mean instant access to all the information I would ever need for papers or projects. I would not have to spend hours in the library, I would simply log into my computer and go.

Granted the idea has been effective in University settings already; for instance, SUNY Albany already allows students to access the library databases and indexes from their home computers. However, the extent of the material that is available is limited in comparison to what Kahle wants to do.

As convenient as Kahle’s idea would be, I wonder its effect on publishers and booksellers. If everything published is available online, then what would be the point of purchasing books, which seem to get more and more expensive each year. I can’t imagine the money I’d save if each of my textbooks were online; seeing as the access codes to get into the textbook websites usually are fairly inexpensive.

If we go so far as to incorporate Kahle’s idea and solely use our computers to access information, then publishers, booksellers, and eventually printed news would become passé. Why would someone pay to hold something in their hands, when they could pay to have something that they could access whenever they want, wherever they want on their own personal computer.

I believe Kahle’s idea is definitely a good one, but a bad omen for the newspapers and booksellers…

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