Plans for a World Library were announced with great fanfare earlier this week. It’s a nice idea but I have to admit, my first thought when I learned of this project was "Why?" We already have a digital library that covers the world. It’s called the web. Yeah, I know the collection could use a little weeding but still, it’s up and running and being added to all the time. Are grand designs and top-down planning still the way to go in a time when anyone with a laptop, a scanner, and a DVD burner (or good bandwidth) can crank out gigabytes of data? The other day I was visiting a friend and, while we sat talking in his livingroom, he burned a DVD for me containing every Black Flag album, every Sonic Youth album, every Minutemen album, and every Husker Du album ever released. It was all done in about 20 minutes. Now I’m not saying that scanning the Mabo Case Manuscripts would be as easy, and I have tons of respect for those who labor to provide access points to such things, as well as the folks who coordinate such activities. But I do worry because the methods for organization are already here, the technologies are already here, and while smart people spend time crafting carefully worded discussion papers, things are disappearing.
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