Many topics in the book were real eye openers. Items that I should have known or things I really didn’t understand. For example, the description of the Patriot act is chilling. He poses the example of FBI agents asking for library records. The librarian can’t complain, protest, or inform the person investigated. They are bound to secrecy. Congress doesn’t know how often the act has been invoked due to these secrecy conditions. “The Patriot act is a blank check to a government institution – the FBI – that is notorious for overstepping its bounds, being ineffective, incompetent, and racist.”
Another example: the duplicity of the government efforts to keep strong encryption out of the hands of its citizens, in the name of security, but then cracking down on programmers for cracking DVD encryption.
Reading the description of the ‘anarchy and oligarchy of science and math,’ as a scientist, was very interesting. I experience the situation he describes daily as I work to create intellectual property for my company, while pushing the limits of human knowledge. We constantly have to address what we can and cannot share.
It would be interesting to hear more of Mr. Vaidhyanathan’s comments about the recent Google/China issue, as he discusses The Great Firewall in his book and mentions FreeNet as a solution…. Very interesting that Bill Gates defends the Google policy. And related, Google Print is often in the news…. More things to learn about.
And as one interested in knowledge management, “The Perfect Library” had many interesting insights. “In the absence of good information, consumers, voters, and soldiers all make bad choices. Conversely, with good information, good decisions are at least possible.” The ‘at least’ implies the unspoken: just because good information is available doesn’t mean people will use it. This reminds me of the discussion in Peter Morville’s Ambient Findability, where he describes people satificing for the information available, and Mooers (not Moore’s) law which paraphrased (found here) “people will not use an information system if it is more painful and troublesome to have the information than to not have it. Therefore, “we cannot assume people will want our information, even if we know they need our information.”