Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hebrew Books in the Digital Age


I’ve written several posts about Hebrewbooks.org.

It is my belief that digital learning is the wave of the future. There will come a time when printed matter will be in short supply, and almost all learning will take place on Kindles, or the like.

Of course seforim will never really go away because of Shabbos etc., or at least until they figure out how to run these gadgets without violating any of the 39 Melachos. But as seforim become rarer and rarer, and as OCR gets better and better, I see a time when the only existing copies will be in electronic format.

The concern then becomes, who will maintain these digital libraries? How will we know if the electronic data matches the original? The opportunity for forgery abounds. The “1984” scenario will allow for those who control the data to change any text that does not fit with their current ideology.

Which is why Hebrewbooks.org is so important. Keeping copies of seforim in PDF format will allow us to view the originals. Allowing anyone and everyone to download any sefer will ensure that there will be multiple copies available everywhere to confirm the original text.

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