Monday, October 09, 2006

Learning to love Google book

When Google book was first launching, I did a little search for something or other, didn't find it, and decided that it was a limited tool that didn't much interest me.

Somehow, I hadn't thought about old books. I hadn't thought about all those books I have to request from storage, renew at the desk rather than online, etc. It just hadn't occurred to me to check to see if they might be there, until, out of pure laziness, I looked. I just didn't want to have to bother to go to the circulation desk to recheck some texts. So I did a search, and found a goldmine.

Among the texts I found: Herbert Spencer's "Philosophy of Style," edited, with an introduction, by composition's own Fred Newton Scott. (The "Philosophy of Style" was a very popular text in required composition classes in the nineteenth century. Somehow, few people have noted this. Seems significant to me.)

And all I have to do is download the file, and then I can cut and paste from the pdf right into my notes. Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, at some point I'll have to actually key in some selections from the longer extracts. But that's ok. Right now, I'm just in love with these lovely little text images. Here's one from ol' Fred's introduction. In it, he argues that everyone who interprets Spencer to emphasize the importance of economizing words for the sake of individual economy has it wrong. What Spencer is really saying, says Fred, is that we have to take the corporate body into account:

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