It’s the first official day of Fall here in New England, and I know this because I just took a long, long shower with the water set to “hot.” Also, I’m wearing long-pant pajama bottoms as of last night, which is a sure sign seasons are turning for the worse. Even if one still sleeps shirtless, the long pants are a giveaway – Fall is here.
Did I mention that my archiving job (scanning the papers of the late author John Mack) recently passed the 10,000 mark? That’s ten thousand documents scanned by me in half a year. About two weeks of work remain, and then I’m supposed to be done. Could be true – I finished the correspondence through the letter “Z” last week, and now there’s just random stuff that we (me, working on the archive, and three others involved in closing down operations) are coming across unintentionally.
I am hopeful that a portion of what I’ve scanned is going to be brought into the collection of a reputable psychoanalytic society, to be named later, but I fear the family is entering into discussions with that society at far too slow a pace; they risk giving the impression of disinterest.
I read that Google has been engaged in a process similar to what I’ve been doing. They’ve been scanning entire books (I’ve done a few of those, too), so that someday people can search the contents of every book in existence from any computer on earth. But there’s all sorts of legal red tape around this, because some publishers evidently don’t understand that the search doesn’t give you an entire book, it only gives you a page or two; then you have to go seek the book out from a store or library yourself. Google risks being sued out of existence for a humanitarian project. Frankly this is a project that the Library of Congress should have been doing, but our taxes don’t seem to go to noble purposes. It is brilliant, and it already works to a limited extent, even with only a few titles in it so far (many of those titles coming from crappy self-published books, whose publishers – the authors themselves – naturally had no qualms about the added exposure). If you’ve ever used Amazon.com’s “Look Inside” feature to flip through a page or two of a book, it is rather like that.
I did a search for my own name, and by chance I am already in this archive. Not as an author mind you. No, I got in to it simply because a magazine article that mentioned me was reprinted in a “Best of Science Writing 2004” book, and that book happened to make it in to the Google archive. Still kind of neat.
I’d like to add the books of the late author whose works I am scanning, but unfortunately one needs to be either an author or publisher or agent or whatnot in order to arrange for the receipt of the titles.
Someday everything will be online. We can only hope that a clean source of energy is found so that we can continue to access it.