Wednesday, January 9, 2013

We have come to the point in our history that the Trekkies (Star Trek lovers) have long since known as one of the most poignant times in human civilization.  It is the time depicted in that science fiction when the world has a choice to allow information to be free.  Why would we do this? Why allow everyone equal access to ancient texts and modern manuals? The answer is rather simple and in science fiction it plays out that free information is able to create a second Renaissance.  A time when innovation is unrivaled because there are countless more minds allowed to use the information that we as a society have compiled.  

Imagine the original, state of the art thinking with access granted to all.  Millions of minds all working together to figure out the puzzle.  Little nuances that people outside the field might add to the thought process.  In Orson Scott Card's Pastwatch he argues that peoples indigenous to Central America might have better been able to repel the Europeans if they had worked together to create things like larger ocean going vessels.  He suggests that a tribe that had good boat design but no metal work couldn't create a ship large enough to go far to sea.  But, a neighboring tribe, that did have the metallurgy necessary to allow for the strength needed to create larger framed boats, working with the first tribe, together would have been able to create boats to repel Europe's navies. 

It is a simple thought.  But it is a thought that has been proved true time and again.  Work together and prosper.  The BBC published an article recently by David Keller ( that shows there is at least one library director thinking in this forward way.  Keller quotes the Cambridge library director in regards to making Cambridge's collection available to all:

"We want to share these treasures with the world.  We want to be surprised at what people do with it and the discoveries that are made from it.  We want to advance scholarship, research, and teaching and we want this to be used and enjoyed."

The second in a long line of Renaissances is upon us, let's ride this wave!  The Oakland branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has a beautiful slogan outside it's library that says, "Free to the People".  Let's live up to that.  

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