Good job bringing this to light. People won't realise how huge the problem is and municipalities are woefully ill equipped to...
Agreed; mining can never be sustainable, but then how do you get the metals to make all the things you need in the course of...
Very good piece.
Google is making more books available to more people. Is the blessing unqualified?
ON February 20, newspapers in India carried an advertisement meant for writers, publishers and other holders of copyright on printed material. The ad, brought out by the search engine major Google, signalled an end to its long-drawn legal battle with the US publishing industry. Digital libraries can now access works within the copyright period.
The settlement is a big victory for those who believe that copyright stymies intellectual output. For many it is even more salutary that Google has been turned into a bookseller, peddling online access to out-of-print-but-still-in-copyright works. The search engine is the first stop on the Internet for a majority of users. For information, type a keyword, click enter and relevant web pages appear on the computer screen. Google is great quickfix and a major influence on popular culture.
There is more to reading, however, than web pages. Historically, it is associated with printed matter. Epics, novels, magazines, newspapers, journals, articles, poems, short stories, all our great documents were printed and distributed on pieces of paper. For historians, the invention of the printing press rivals the impact of the steam engine.
The kind of deep reading that a sequence of printed pages promotes is valuable not just for the knowledge afforded in the author's words but for the intellectual reactions those words set off. In the quiet spaces opened up by sustained reading of a book, people make associations, draw inferences foster ideas.
Googledom is not the same. The moment we go online we jettison the fuzziness of contemplation. In it, the human brain is just an antediluvian computer that needs a faster processor and a voluminous hard drive. Sergey Brin and Larry Page, the gifted techies who founded Google have spoken of their desire to develop the perfect search engine--one that understands what we mean and gives it back quickly. In Google's view, information is a commodity, a utilitarian resource that can be mined and processed with industrial efficiency.
WWW, after all, is an immeasurably powerful computing system. Great as it is in how it has democratized information, it is no substitute for a well-stocked library.