Where Will the Books Go, 1962 essay by John R. Platt
November 7, 2012 10:12 AM   Subscribe

Where Will the Books Go, 1962 essay by John R. Platt
In 1962, John R. Platt predicted a personal microfilm library of all the world's written records would soon be installed in every home. In essence, he hypothesised a pre-digital Internet powered by photographic film, optical lenses and the postal service.

Written in the narrow window when microfilm was growing in popularity and digital storage/sharing was still a distant future possibility, he suggests that the system might only cost a few thousand dollars to purchase, and "could cost far less and be worth more to many of us than those desk-top electronic computers that have been talked about for years."

A delightful piece of historical futurism. But many of the concerns he raises are relevant in 2012. While he bet on the wrong technology, his thoughts on the brain-altering effect of instant access to knowledge, of our inevitable disquiet over moving from print to screen, and of the society-changing potential of so much shared information are interestingly prescient.
Role: I digitised this essay. That's all.
posted by distorte (2 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

FYI, the book this was taken from is called The Step to Man, not Step to Man. You should correct that in the bio graf at the end.

Beyond that, quite frankly it bugs me that people post clearly copyrighted material like this without permission and put the onus on the copyright holder to contact you, rather than the other way around.
posted by beagle at 9:25 AM on November 9, 2012

Sorry you're bugged, Beagle. I sent a Republication Request Form to the original publishers (now Wiley) through their Rights & Permissions department but have not received any reply after a number of weeks. I supposed that they're simply not interested in enforcing copyright on a fifty-year-old essay that is forty-six years out of print, but if they ever get back to me I will either pay their fee and update the footer notice or remove the essay.
posted by distorte at 3:15 AM on November 11, 2012

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