The Mystifying Aroma Of Rot

I love libraries, and I love books, but there the needs of our students and limitations of our budgets have no room for misplaced romantic attachments. That’s why I’ve found myself paraphrasing something from Ibiblio’s Paul Jones (via Teleread):

That smell of an old book, that smell of old libraries? That’s the smell of the books rotting.

We must remember that libraries catalog and share information and knowledge, not books. Our students and faculty have already voted with their feet and demonstrated that our paper (and microform) collections of periodicals are useless compared to the online, fully searchable versions. How long before the same happens for books as well?

Connections: some people don’t get this, but there are a number who do (too many to list, actually). This issue is bigger than ebooks alone, but OpenReader deserves a plug here too.

Take A Picture, Get Hassled By The Man

Alan Wexelblat at Copyfight pointed out this story that talks about increasing limits on public photography.

If you’re standing on public property, you can shoot anything the naked eye can see, explains Ken Kobre, professor of photojournalism at San Francisco State University and author of one of the seminal textbooks on the subject.

…But that apparently doesn’t stop security guards, cops, and others from intimidating and sometimes arresting those who try it.

Lawrence Lessig had a little bit to say about this in Free Culture, though his real point there was about copyright issues related to photography. Here, at the bottom of page 33, he makes the point that I’m getting at:

[E]arly in the history of photography, there was a series of judicial decisions that could well have changed the course of photography[…]. Courts were asked whether the photographer, amateur or professional, required permission before he could capture and print whatever image he wanted. Their answer was no.

Various forces have been chipping away at this basic presumption of freedom to photograph ever since, but Lessig rightly credits this early decision with creating the cover necessary for consumer photography to emerge and boom as it did.