2007/09/18

The Singularity Is Near - For Free


Since it was published a couple years ago, I wanted to read Ray Kurzweil's book titled The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology. Unfortunately, local bookshops just sell books in Spanish and this title has not been translated so far. Moreover, I don't have an international credit card to buy it online at known places like Amazon, where shipping charges are close to the book's price, which renders the transaction costly.

Luckily, while browsing some blog posts including "youtube" as one of their tags in a blog titled LifeHacker, I found one post presenting a new site named Scribd, where people can publish any kind of document and read and browse it online using the site's Flash based reader, as well as download the document in many popular formats, even as an mp3 text-to-speech file.

What do you imagine the first keyword I typed in Scribd's search box was? Yeah, I looked for "singularity" and found that some good pirate soul has digitized the whole book preserving the original text format and uploaded it to the site last june 14, complete with bookmarks. The only thing missing are the graphics many graphics and tables the book has, which are replaced by boxes with corresponding alt-text.

Well, that's more than I expected from a scanned copy of this book, so I gess I will enjoy this anyway. I wonder for how long will this and other ilegally published materials be available in this or similar sites before lawyers start to attack. Really, I don't think publishers will be able to do much about this kind of book piracy, judging from the poor results music and video corporations have attained so far fighting to clear hughely popular sites like Youtube.

So, may be sites like Scribd are the early signs of the Singularity, the point of no return.

* Foto: vestido parte de la colección "Singularity Point" invierno 2010 del diseñador Mark Liu