But, in the meantime, the fear over AI is leading to some crazy and sometimes unfortunate outcomes. Benji Smith, who created what appears to be an absolutely amazing tool for writers, Shaxpir, also created what looked like an absolutely fascinating tool called Prosecraft, that had scanned and analyzed a whole bunch of books and would let you call up really useful data on books.
I Would Rather See My Books Get Pirated Than This (Or: Why Goodreads and Amazon Are Becoming Dumpster Fires)
We desperately need guardrails on this landslide of misattribution and misinformation. Amazon and Goodreads, I beg you to create a way to verify authorship, or for authors to easily block fraudulent books credited to them. Do it now, do it quickly.
MI Right to Read is a six-month campaign designed to build a coalition of people in support of libraries. It comes at a time when people nationwide are calling for the removal of books that deal with themes of sexual orientation and gender identity.
"What we saw in the last couple of years is a more coordinated effort by outside groups to ban certain types of materials," said MLA President Scott Duimstra.
The history of the printed book stretches back well over a millennium, the title of the oldest known book currently being held by a Tang Dynasty work of the Diamond Sutra. But what about the most beautiful book? As a contender for that spot, Michael Goodman (previously featured here on Open Culture for his projects on the illustrations of Shakespeare and Dickens) has put forth the Kelmscott Chaucer, including the testimony of no less a literary figure than W.B. Yeats, who called it “the most beautiful of all printed books.” Goodman has also made the book freely available for our perusal on his new web site, The Kelmscott Chaucer Online.
Alternative platforms already exist: one promising place to start might be the Palace Project and the associated Palace Marketplace, which right now mostly seems to let libraries buy ebooks and audiobooks from indie authors, and access out-of-copyright classics. The company behind it, Lyrasis, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; that doesn%u2019t mean it%u2019s immune to mismanagement, but it%u2019s a better legal framework than a for-profit B corp. And its board is teeming with actual career librarians, instead of one token librarian and a handful of investors and executives, like OverDrive. The Palace app is designed to combine content from multiple vendors, including OverDrive, which could help with transition. But the Palace Project so far has relationships with less than 5% of US libraries.
Early modern printed books are a much wider category, encompassing the entire period between ~1450 CE and ~1800 CE (I tend to date the end of the early modern period to the end of the Napoleonic Wars, 1815). Printed books from this period cover a huge range of topics and dozens of languages, but for me at least, they have one thing in common: I almost always find them far more interesting — more beautifully designed, more strange, more intriguing — than modern books.
Houston’s plan to convert some school libraries into discipline centers is criticized
Dozens of public schools won’t have traditional libraries when classes start. Teachers and parents criticize reforms turning some libraries into centers for students with disciplinary problems.
Why This AI Moment May Be the Real Deal
1. It’s generalized, not specialized.
2. It can understand natural language.
3. It understands context.
4. It is responsive.
5. Its apparent grasp of the world is flexible, implicit, and general.
6. The way it gains its grasp of the world is flexible, implicit, and general.
7. Its errors are not nonsense; they are alien.
It is too early to say that the new AI class is an inherently antihuman technological paradigm, as social media has proven itself to be. But it is not too early to suspect that AIs will dwarf social media in their power to disrupt modern life. If that is so, we had better learn some new and unfamiliar ways of interrogating this technology, and fast. Whatever these entities are — they’re here.