Philadelphia Reflections

The musings of a physician who has served the community for over six decades

Related Topics

Historical Preservation
The 20% federal tax credit for historic preservation is said to have been the special pet of Senator Lugar of Indiana. Much of the recent transformation of Philadelphia's downtown is attributed to this incentive.

Academia (2)

Computers, Digital Cameras, and Cellphones
Much of the early development of the electronic computer took place in Philadelphia. We lost the lead, but it might return.

The characteristic American behavior called volunteerism got its start with Benjamin Franklin's Junto, and has been a source of comment by foreign visitors ever since. It's still a very active force.

Thinking About Thought
There's a yawning gap between concepts of the mind, and concepts of brain function.

Revenue Stream for Historical Documents

{The Economist}
The Economist
The Purpose of this product is to:

1.-2. Save the cost of publishing long bibliographies in every copy of a book whose readers mostly make no use of the bibliography, while still making the bibliography available to those who will use it. The Economist magazine now does this in the form of notifying the reader that the source documents for their articles are available on the Economist web site. This is a suitable methodology for publications with only limited bibliographies, but very large circulation and short shelf life. Essentially, it is a free service to readers which reduces the clutter and intimidation of citations to essentially unavailable sources.


On the other hand, a recent book about Thomas Jefferson had 120 pages of bibliography citations. Unless that book has an unusually scholarly readership, most of the cost of printing and distributing 120 pages were wasted. Printing that book without the citations, but also publishing a diskette, Kindle, or website -- containing nothing but citations --would produce considerable savings for the publisher and reader, and they ought to be willing to pay for it. Unfortunately, there is resistance to anything new, and you may have to do it both ways until the idea catches on. The cost should include the right to some recognizable copy mark on the book, signifying this feature is available. Bowker and advertisers should be encouraged to use something smaller but similar. In that way, the concept can be advertised in advance of actual market penetration.

Some thought should be given to making some use of the searchability of such a bibliography. At the negligible cost, it can be resorted and listed in a wide variety of options(author, date, publication source), since the incremental cost of such additional material is minimal. For example, identifying all the citations available at one location should assist the scholar in deciding where to pursue his work. Perhaps there are ways to produce it which would help the librarian locate the material within the library or to pick out material in the same location before moving on.

{ABE Books}
ABE Books

3. Widen the availability of the text of primary sources. Much of this would be of interest to the non-professional reader if he could get to it more easily, and it would enlarge his sense of participating in the interpretation or "buy in". Unfortunately, most photocopying is still of poor quality, and the most useful version of the original is to use a keyboard. Therefore, I recommend searching for ways to induce the scholar to do it for you; if he really thinks it is an important document, would he please keyboard it for everyone else. If a way is provided for counting the number of "hits" on a document's citations, it will lead you to the popular documents, to begin with. Please don't try to start with "A" and end with "Z". After you have produced digitized copy, then photocopy it if you wish. The local Athenaeum makes quite a lot of revenue from selling reprints of architectural drawings, so there are exceptions.

4. Do not limit yourself to primary sources. There are copyright issues here, but a link to Amazon will get you revenue from Google, and a used copy of a book from ABEbooks will be delivered to your home by United Parcel Service. It's often cheaper than parking near a library.


Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power: Jon Meacham: ISBN: 978-1400067664 Amazon

Originally published: Thursday, January 10, 2013; most-recently modified: Tuesday, June 04, 2019