Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Of the making of books there is no end...

"We have reason to fear that the multitude of books which grows every day in a prodigious fashion will make the following centuries fall into a state as barbarous as that of the centuries that followed the fall of the Roman Empire." That is, "unless we try to prevent this danger by separating those books which we must throw out or leave in oblivion from those which one should save and within the latter between what is useful and what is not."

A quote from someone in the 21st century? Nope, the words of a 17th century scholar - and he was only echoing what Vincent of Beauvais in the 13th century said: "Since the multitude of books, the shortness of time and the slipperiness of memory do not allow all things which are written to be equally retained in the mind, I decided to reduce in one volume in a compendium and in summary order some flowers selected according to my talents from all the authors I was able to read."

Even Solomon is known to have said something along these lines: Of the making of books there is no end. The problem ain't new!

The two quotes come from an excellent article by Alan Jacobs on the subject of information overload.

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