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Opening Arguments


Well, good for him:

Tucked away in a small warehouse on a dead-end street, an Internet pioneer is building a bunker to protect an endangered species: the printed word.

Brewster Kahle, 50, founded the nonprofit Internet Archive in 1996 to save a copy of every Web page ever posted. Now the MIT-trained computer scientist and entrepreneur is expanding his effort to safeguard and share knowledge by trying to preserve a physical copy of every book ever published.

[. . .]

So far, Kahle has gathered about 500,000 books. He thinks the warehouse itself is large enough to hold about 1 million titles, each one given a barcode that identifies the cardboard box, pallet and shipping container in which it resides.

That's far fewer than the roughly 130 million different books Google Inc. ( GOOG - news - people ) engineers involved in that company's book scanning project estimate to exist worldwide.

[. . .]

"The dedicated idea is to have the physical safety for these physical materials for the long haul and then have the digital versions accessible to the world," Kahle said.

And it took an Internet pioneer to come up with the idea. It's of course important to preserve the contents of the books digitally, so the knowledge in them isn't lost. But it's nice to know that there might always be  actual physical copies preserved. The collection (or part of it anyway) could turn out to be a well-visited museum for future generations who want to see for themselves if their ancestors really lugged around all those heavy, space-consuming volumes.

Posted in: Books, Web/Tech