Sunday, December 13, 2009

One blink or two?

An imaginative look into Google Books & Magazines

How about checking out two new trends over at Google Books that are destined to benefit family historians?

#1 - Google Book's Magazine section
It didn't occur to me to look for magazines at Google Books, but an Inside Google Books blog posting titled List of all magazines now available in Google Books by Jeffrey Peng, caught Ol' Myrt's eye and reads in part:

I'm a software engineer on Google Books. One of my main projects is adding magazine content and features to the site. In September we were excited to announce the availability of over 1,860 issues of the iconic LIFE magazine on Google Books. One of the feature requests that I got from friends and family was to add a way to browse all the magazines available. Someone even created a Facebook group called Get Google Magazine Search to provide a list of indexed titles. The group has 45 members and growing, so before it reached millions of members and there were protests in front of my house, I decided that I better act fast. I'm happy to announce that last week I coded up a page on Google Books that lets you browse the available magazine titles. You can view the page here.

Now Life Magazine would be great for adding historical context to the compiled genealogies of our 20th century ancestors.

But then Ol' Myrt here got busy and checked. YES, Ancestry Magazine is found on Google Books. One may read the Jan-Feb 2009 issue online, browse all issues, add an issue to your Google Books Library and subscribe. Not so with Family Chronicle or Family Tree Magazine that rely on the paper format model.

#2 EPUB vs PDF

Make note of last summer's Google Books announcement of the "free downloads of [...] more than one million more public domain books in an additional format, EPUB. By adding support for EPUB downloads, we're hoping to make these books more accessible by helping people around the world to find and read them in more places. More people are turning to new reading devices to access digital books, and many such phones, netbooks, and e-ink readers have smaller screens that don't readily render image-based PDF versions of the books we've scanned. EPUB is a lightweight text-based digital book format that allows the text to automatically conform (or "reflow") to these smaller screens."

In the future, we'll all be reading books, magazines and newspapers via a Kindle, a Sony or some other e-book (electronic book) reading machines. Some cell phones have this capability now, but this exception will become the rule before long.

Maybe in my lifetime, if not by the time my 2nd great-grandchildren become avid readers, some will laugh that we consider e-book readers ultra-modern methods of information distribution. Perhaps by then my descendants will have brain implants that project the headlines of a newspaper or a magazine's table of contents on the inside of their right eyes. Would that be one blink or two to expand on a title?

[As always, Ol' Myrt here intends to be the first in line for a spell-check brain implant chip. Those surely would come out first, but I digress.]

Does this mean that on stormy days in the late 21st century we will have to give up curling up with a quilt, too? Ol' Myrt here certainly hopes not.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
Your friend in genealogy.

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