The Guardian: British Library digitises Chaucer for the internet. Aside from the lowercase i, what’s interesting about this story is that they’re not talking about making the text available (it’s already pretty widely available), but high resolution images, as they helped to do with the Gutenberg Bible project.
There are two interesting things about this project:
- Typography freaks like myself will get to see in glorious hi-res the work of William Caxton, who was one of the earliest printers in England.
- The existing books are pretty fragile and this will make sure that people have an alternative to viewing them in person, which exposes them to additional damage.
I used to work at the Electronic Text Center when I was an undergrad at Virginia. I was reading Beowulf in Old English at the time, and was blown away when I saw the British Library’s first digitizations of the Beowulf manuscript. I could look at the passages that were debated by scholars and understand why they were debated (generally, the manuscript was falling apart in places).
Among file sharing programs, one strange menage a trois stands out: Morpheus, KaZaA, Grokster. All three run essentially the same software, owned by KaZaA. Last week something happened to Morpheus — it’s not clear what. According to Slashdot, the ownership of Morpheus (Music City) has claimed that individuals “launched a DOS attack and tampered with the morpheus network in order to disallow logons to the FastTrack P2P filesharing network through the client. ” According to this message, KaZaA sold out to another outfit and started kicking the Morpheus clients off the network.
Where’s the cautionary tale here? Well, there are two parameters that determine how well you can capture the value you create (i.e., stay in business). Is your product’s uniqueness easy or hard to maintain? Do you hold the complementary assets you need to realize that product’s value tightly or loosely? Well, let’s see. Morpheus licensed its technology wholesale, so uniqueness was hard to maintain. And their network was connected to its competitors (all three P2P clients connected to the same big FastTrack network). I guess they didn’t have too tight a control over their complementary assets. So how was Morpheus going to capture any value??? Somewhere, though, someone thought they were a good idea…
So everyone seems to be junking their tables these days and going to CSS-based layouts. I’m working on it … right now I’m getting close on the basic CSS layout and am going looking for pictures. Maybe I’ll launch the new look soon… we’ll see.