September 22, 2010

The Terror of Information Loss

I just finished reading This Book Is Overdue! How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson.

It talked of how librarians keep people informed and able to navigate on the search for information. It was all very interesting, but while reading it I discovered something about myself I should have already known.

I cannot stand information loss.

Stories of book burning make my insides twist up. I scream inside my head when I hear of people throwing out collections of old publications. My heart hurts when I click on a bookmarked link and the web page comes up as nonexistent.

All information is valuable, all information deserves to be learned. My favorite part of the book comes when the author talks about people's outstanding actions are archivists. Archivists are usually very specific, but they save so much. Things people would think have no value; the flyers from concerts, the maps from fairs, newspaper articles on prizefights. These people go around knowing very specific information that not many others know.

It occurred to me that everyone is an archivist. Everyone has something they know a lot about. Write it down. Keep it safe. Tell others so the information is never lost.

Everyone is also a librarian. They can tell you where to find information. They can direct you to the best sources to discover what they don't know on a topic. Don't keep it hidden from others. Tell them how to find what they don't know.

The First Amendment of the American Constitution says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances".

I tried to find a word for this love of knowledge and the need to preserve it. Would you believe that I could not find one?

So I had to create one: gnosiphile; from the Greek gnosis, "knowledge" and philos "loving".

If you are a gnosiphile:
  • Keep copies of printed material on whatever your interest is.
  • Keep screenshots of web pages (go to Page on the toolbar, go down to Save As) of the same.
  • Print out information on it from the Internet.
  • File it.
  • Tell others of your knowledge.
  • Encourage others to do the same.

Information should never be lost. Information is too important to be forgotten.

Preserve it.

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