Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Urgent call to a medieval Help Desk

via Roger Ebert's journal:


Ole Phat Stu said...

Imagine user looking something up in the index. Opens book to page 1. turns over all the pages 1 by 1 until getting to the index at the back. Looks up page number of indexed item. Notes it. Turns book upside down. turns pages singly again all the way from the back to the front (just as you would a scroll).Turns book upside down again. Turns pages going forward until finding the page number he noted.

Thank god for ISAM ;-)

Now imagine the helpdesk guy having to explain to user how to do a binary search for the page number...

ellroon said...

Lol,Ole Phat Stu! I had to go google ISAM.

When did the printers of books discover numbering pages helped? When the common man could afford a book maybe? When printing the Bible?

Bryan said...

That is so true it hurts, Ellroon.

From what I have seen of old manuscripts at museums, the concepts of page numbering, tables of contents, indexes, or any of the other aids we take for granted today, are all recent developments in printing.

It took a while before they started printing on both sides of the page.

ellroon said...

The things we take for granted and think have been this way for a millennium often are only a few generations old. At least we grew up reading books.

What would this generation's life be like if we lost electricity?... All those sad forgotten blogs and emails, ipads and ipods and cellphones and nooks..

Ole Phat Stu said...

First Printing of bibles? Around 1430 by Caxton in GB and 1450 Gutenberg in D.

First alphabetically sorted dictionary? 1604. Newton 1642-1727 is known to have used binary lookups in sorted lists.

So presumably page numbers no page numbers used at the time?
Page numbers enabled indexes and ISAM searches. But Newtons Principae had page numbers. A good place to research your questions would be in the Bodlean Library in Oxford, Uk. (I was there in September).

When could the common man afford a book (that he could read?). 1430 William Tyndale's English translation of the Latin bible. Sold like hot cakes.

I have about 7000 books in my house; but generally in our village people own only about a couple of dozen books :-(

Sometimes, I sarcastically say to village farmers that I've written more (8) than they've read ;-)

ellroon said...

Think we're close in this house to your collection of 7K, Ole Phat Stu! I have boxes out in the garage of books that I have no more space for.

We had a neighbor once who had about 6 or 7 books on her shelf...mostly titles of books that had become movies. She was very proud of her display....

oldwhitelady said...

Ha ha ha - that was pretty funny. It kept reminding me of the Nook type thingy that a lot of people use nowadays. I wonder why they decided to make that film??? Perhaps, it will be useful for people who don't read actual books. How amusing it was. I, too, have lots and lots of books kicking around. I have boxes of them, and bookcases overflowing. Perhaps, I should invest in a nook. Then I wouldn't collect more books.

ellroon said...

Ha! Oldwhitelady, I will blame you for this terrible ditty:

How many books could a bookworm look (at) if a bookworm could look (at) books? No books for a bookworm to look (at) if a nook was all he had to look (at)... (and the battery ran out or the subscription was hacked or the program crashed....)