Reading Asimov and wikipedia..

I treat myself to Asimov’s “Foundation” once again today.  It is one of the books that I have been re-reading all my life and always find something astonishing. Today, this passage jumped at me:

The Empire will vanish, and all its good with it.  Its accumulated knowledge will decay and the order it has imposed will vanish.  A Second Empire will rise, but between it and our civilization will be one thousand generations of suffering humanity.  We must fight that.   – How do you propose to do this?   – By saving the knowledge of the race… my thirty thousand men with their wives and children are devoting themselves to the preparation of an Encyclopedia Galactica. They will not complete it in their lifetimes.  I will not even live to see it fairly begun. But by the time the Empire falls, it will be complete and copies will be exist in every major library in the Galaxy.” 

Which brings a lot of questions to my mind… Would librarians facilitate this process? And what is the knowledge of the race, what’s its nature and where does knowledge lie? Is it in books that take a few years from the inception of an idea to print and distribution, or the journal articles that get published much quicker? Or is this type of knowledge already dead by the time it gets published and the only live and current knowledge really exists in our heads and we talk and think it minute by minute, second by second.  How to capture this knowledge and record it?  Give the free tools to thirty thousand men with their wives and children who will devote themselves to the preparation of an Encyclopedia Galactica….

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Filed under Future, Libraries

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