One morning a few weeks back, I ran into Brewster Kahle at the SFO airport before an early morning flight. The 2nd such coincidence of SFO x Brewster, the previous event being last January. I was off to a sales call in Arkansas, and he was off to testify at a DMCA hearing in Los Angeles. We were both tight on departures, but that didn’t stop Brewster from steering me to the nearby waiting lounge.
“You’ve got to see this, it’s really cool.” He proceeded to pull an aluminum-cornered hardcase box from his back pack. From the box, he lifted out an original VisiCalc package still in shrinkwrap. “Look at this, this started it all. They want us to destroy it. They don’t want Libraries to preserve it!” (He also showed me a box of MS Basic for an Atari.)
A few days later, John Markoff wrote a New York Times article, but already the content seems stashed away behind a feewall.
Are we in the era of Digital Libaries yet?
It’s been ten years since the NSF stirred up the academic research on digital libraries by calling for proposals. The theories and innovations aside, bring on the real world messy wicked problems. And Brewster continues championing with insane energy for sanity.