What These Lists Are.These book lists are provided to giver you a place to start, or continue on the road to literacy. They are works of 'literature,' wherein the concept of literature, a recpicle of culture, language at its peak, is defined with a small'c.' INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE Select a book. Get a copy from your local librarian, or book emporium. Sit in a quiet place. Open the book and begin. If after fifty pages or interest has waned, that is disappeared, then close the book and return it from whence it came. Then, repeat the steps listed above. Continue this process untill you have had sight of at least fifty pages of each book on this list. Then move onto the next list.
"Orality," that is the propensity to express oneself in speech," is an ancient technology, having evolved over aeons into a fundamental trait which defines the human species. The spoken word enables collaboration between individuals and groups. It provides for the elaborate communication of thought. Speech enables shared intelligence among individuals in a group. In all human cultures, orality is the closest sensory equivalent to fully developed interior thought . Speech is immediate, direct, and local. Orality is inherently inclusive, allowing full participation by all who are present. Orality is a necessary skill for participation in the culture. But the skill is not highly technical. It is acquired over time through the natural course of human interaction. Speech precedes action. It functions to plan, determine and shape human activity. In the solution of complex problems, the path from object to individual and from individual to object passes through another person using the technology of language.
Literacy is a new technology, having been with us for only five thousand years. An elaborate encoding scheme introduces a level of abstraction in written text which separates the knower from the known . Literacy entails formal technical skills beyond orality. For most of five thousand years, this was the exclusive realm of priests and princes. Not bound (like speech) to the present and the immediate, writing augments long-term memory, spanning time and distance. It is not a mere coincidence that the great religions of the present era all took root early in the age of literacy. Writing bestows upon the word the immortality of the Word. The written word introduced stability and permanence of language. Literacy gave birth to History. The technology of literacy enabled humanism and the accumulations of archived knowledge. Papyrus and sheepskin manuscripts were fragile and volatile and those who controlled access to a scroll were highly protective of its use. This gave the text a mystical quality, exalting its contents and its author. The reader consumed the text out of a sense of privilege and awe. Important texts were copied by scribes - not to disseminate the text, but to compensate for the fragile, temporal nature of the substrate.
Printing extended literacy beyond the cloisters and ushered in the Modern Age. Gutenberg's invention enabled broad dissemination of written discourse. Knowledge became an instrument of power in the hands of a new emerging class. It enabled the likes of Luther to challenge priestly authority. It provided a forum for the bourgeoisie to rationalize its own ascendancy. Gutenberg's invention spawned new applications for writing: newspapers, pamphlets and posters. The printed word became the primary means for the propagation of ideas and ideologies. Western liberalism was articulated in printed text with analyses of self-evident truths, truths that were derived from mythical states of Nature, truths articulated in the rhetoric of universal freedoms. Among these was freedom of the press, a freedom which had significant meaning for those who owned the presses.
It requires capital and considerable labor to convert a manuscript into a book. But the market value of a book is not a function of its paper, typesetting, ink, and binding. It is the ideas and unique expressions of the author. When liberalism established freedom of the press, it extended the tangible rights of property to the intangible. Copyright laws were established early in liberal governments, transforming words and ideas into a commodity that can be owned, controlled, bought, and sold. However, authors rarely own the copyrights to their own work. These are owned by publishers who provide the capital and infrastructure necessary for broad dissemination of the work. In some cases a stipend is granted to the author, in many cases not. But apart from the stipend, the publisher who prints a manuscript bestows status upon that writing as a work of value. The writer is benighted with the title, "author", bestowing the mystical air of "authority".
Today we are moving the archive of our knowledge from paper to metal oxide. It is an economic move that is irreversible. The cost of printing a 300 page book is about five dollars and forty cents. The same information can reside on a rotating disk for about fifty cents, or it can be transferred to a segment of tape for less than a nickel.
Fifty years ago technicians at the University of Pennsylvania were harnessing cables and inserting vacuum tubes into the world's first digital computer. Eniac filled the space of a large university laboratory and it consumed the power of a locomotive. The first
computer had as much memory as today's inexpensive calculators, and its functional capabilities were not much greater. The memory for the early computer was a rotating drum with metallic strips at its surface. This device could store about five kilobytes of data, etched in magnetic domains along the metal strips - enough storage for about a page and a half of text.
Five decades later, computer storage is measured in megabytes, gigabytes, terabytes and petabytes. One megabyte is the equivalent of 300 pages of text, the size of an average book. Today's common desktop computer can store the equivalent of about one hundred books. It can retrieve any page within milliseconds. If the disk becomes full, data can be archived to an off-line device using magnetic tape. Current technology such as StorageTek's Redwood, can store fifty gigabytes of data in a small tape cartridge. That is the equivalent of fifty thousand 300-page books on a single, compact reel of tape.
Place six thousand such tapes in a Powderhorn library and you have the equivalent of three hundred million books in one storage module eight feet high and twelve feet in diameter. Any book in this library can be retrieved and transferred to online storage in less than one minute. The total cost of the library amounts to less than one penny per book.
One problem with centralized storage is the provision of multiple access. How can thousands of users access data from a single machine? The solution is to distribute the data. There is no reason that I cannot keep the fifty or so books I use the most on my local disk drive. My department might invest in a central disk server which can store three or four thousand books online (a cost of fifty cents each). Access is instantaneous for anyone in the department. Using a local area network, resources can be shared between departments. Using the Internet, resources can be shared between universities, between research libraries, between businesses, between nations!
In 1994, the world-wide computer industry sold nearly one petabyte of data storage capacity (the storage equivalent of nine hundred million books). That number will have tippled by the end of 1995. The world market projection for the year 2000 is 140 petabytes and the accumulated digital storage capacity will total 500 petabytes. When we pass into the new century, it will be technically feasible to place the world's archives at our fingertips. Within seconds, anyone with a terminal or PC will be able to access any lexia from the entire store of human knowledge!"NB.
These Book lists are an infinitesimally small part of that store. The Book Lists are Freeware, but not public domain. This means, that it may be used without paying a fee for it, for non-commercial
purposes. All rights to the program remain reserved to the authors.