Please to automatically upgrade my books

In an OMG-I-can’t-believe-I’m-linking-to-Nick-Carr-moment – he’s worrying and lamenting and passing along plausible scare tactic scenarios of the brave new world of e-books and the potential for updates.

I totally get the fear. Although I don’t trust it one iota coming from Nick. The one publishing model that changes everything here is the one model he fears more than revisionism – at least in its Wikipedia form.

But here’s the thing, here’s what changes the revisionist fear. And here’s what makes the e-book demonstrably better than the printed version. And of course, you can come to the same worst-case scenarios about modifications here too – but the solution to all of this?

The change log.

Give me the updates. Make the changes. Keep the copy updated – change it totally in the middle of the night while I wasn’t looking. Change your mind a thousand times about the meaning of the word “is” But give me the revision history. Give me the who, what, when, and how. Give me the diffs. Give me the discussion. That changes revisionism completely.

Now I don’t think we’ll be getting this either. Because revisionists fear transparency. And those that fear revisionists seem to fear transparency more than they fear revisionism.

History isn’t and shouldn’t be immutable – but the revision history can and should be. And that changes everything.

What did it for you?

11th Grade by XKCD
comic by the fabulous Randall Munroe,

For me it was after 11th Grade, and a 6-week summer math program where one class in in the first 3 weeks involved playing with this interesting ‘Assembly Language’ thing (though I totally didn’t get the second session on ‘Pascal’). I don’t remember the platform. It was an emulator/teaching program of some kind.

Admittedly, 12th Grade AP Calculus also really helped though – mostly to begin developing more advanced problem solving strategies – not so much for the calculus.

And getting my first computer in 12th Grade – an Emerson 286 with an AMD 16 MHz 80286 (Intel’s only went to 12-something) and a 40MB HDD – running Compaq MS-DOS 3.31 – or some similar variant because MS-DOS 3.x didn’t support bigger HDD’s than 32MB. And I think 1MB of RAM. I didn’t understand any of the DOS versioning and the fact it wasn’t an Intel chip for several years.

Okay, there was a capstone moment like the weekend of Perl. I managed to get a copy of 4DOS from somewhere – I think this was right after starting at NC State. And 4DOS had a flag for the “del” command that allowed for recursively deleting things. You can imagine where this goes next.

Yep, my career was set in motion by 3 weeks of Assembly Language, AP Calculus, and one horrifying night where I recursively deleted most of the files on my 40MB HDD and key parts of the OS install with 4DOS.

Explains a lot doesn’t it?

The Expert-N-Speak Says

The expert says no way! The cow says moo.

“The sun revolves around the earth” – A whole bunch of medieval theologians, scientists, and 18% of Americans in 2005

“…The automobile is only a novelty…” – President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Horace Rackham (Henry Ford’s lawyer) not to invest in the Ford Motor Company in 1903.

“Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” – Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

“Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?” – H. M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, President, Chairman and Founder of Digital Equipment Co. 1977