Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community

There's a story about why people of my generation are disgruntled. During our lifetimes we've bought the same Beatles album on vinyl, 8-track, cassette tape, CD-ROM, MP3 download, and now as a streaming service. How many times, we ask, do we have to pay for the same music? It wasn't the same for books. "Ever try to read a physical book passed down in your family from 100 years ago?" asks Brewster Kahle in this blog post. "Probably worked well." However, things are changing. "Ever try reading an ebook you paid for 10 years ago? Probably a different experience. From the leasing business model of mega publishers to physical device evolution to format obsolescence, digital books are fragile and threatened." Right. It's not simply the fact that books are on digital that makes them fragile. Plain text files 50 years old are still easily read. But publishers are constantly changing formats and access models, with the result that, like music, we have to buy them over and over again. That's why the updating work of Internet Archive is so important.

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Nov 17, 2022 1:53 p.m.