Retrocon Notes: An Alternate History

https://i0.wp.com/www.computermuseum.li/Testpage/UNIVAC-1-FullView-B.jpgWhen I was up at the State Library, stuttering to a panel just why we thought we deserved public funds for the improvement of our “private” library, I also stated, to a room full of people, that I have no idea why this sort of things costs as much as it does.  While everybody favors orthodoxy when it comes to automating a catalog, I can’t help but post some of the interesting “elegant solutions” we entertained, if only for a second.  Here are some of the craziest:

Smart Mob Cataloging: Organize, via cellular network, Facebook, and the collective technological consciousness, a spontaneous gathering of people who find cataloging enjoyable.  Let’s face it: the “Interweb” is little more than a giant engine for helping like-minded people with dubious proclivities get together to do the strange, even constructive, things they like to do.  Whatever floats your boat, I guess.

Completely Automated Public Turing Test:  So this is kind of like Bladerunner, except instead of proving you’re not an android by eliciting an emotional response, to prove you’re not a spam bot,  you log onto a website and fill in that box with your interpretation of the distorted letters with the squiggly lines through them.  Only the distorted letters are our catalog cards.  You just accidentally did free data entry for us, sucker!

Not OCD, OCR: Buy an industrial scanner, scan all of the cards and wait for OCR technology to reach the point where computers can read chickenscratch.

Get our hands on a second-hand Univac.  Those things ran on cards, right?  And there’s plenty of real esate available around the library…  we could put our Univac in the  Bartlett Building, right? -Ed Scripsi

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