157 years ago today, a man named Melvil Dewey was born in Adams Center, New York. The youngest of five children, Melvil was gifted at math and amazed his family with his quick calculations. He also organized his mother's cupboards. He saved the few pennies he made by doing chores and bought his first book: Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. It remained his favorite book throughout his life, and he would one day have five copies of it scattered in various rooms throughout his house.
He went to college at Amherst where he worked part-time in the library and also taught classes on shorthand writing. He was also the business manager for the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He was firmly against the use of alcohol and tobacco, and for a short time considered the life of a religious missionary.
In his 20s, he worked with the American Metric Bureau and argued for the adoption here in the States of the metric system. He also was involved with the Spelling Reform Association, wanting to change how we spelled words so they would be more phonetic. He thought that was more efficient. He was also one of the founders of the American Library Association.
He's credited with inventing the vertical office file cabinet but his most famous invention came in 1876 when he published the Dewey Decimal System, upon which every library in America is now organized.
NEW TECHNOLOGY: BIO-OPTIC ORGANIZED KNOWLEDGE
Or, as it will be known, B.O.O.K.
The B.O.O.K. is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It's so easy to use, even a child can operate it.
Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere - even sitting in an armchair by a fire - yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM.
B.O.O.K. is constructed of sequentially-numbered sheets of recyclable paper, called pages, each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are then locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.
Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now B.O.O.K.s with more information simply use more OPT pages. Each sheet is scanned optically by the user, registering the information directly into the brain. A simple flick of the finger takes you to the next page.
B.O.O.K. may be operated at any time and is fully powered up the moment you open the cover.
B.O.O.K. never crashes or needs rebooting though, like other devices, it can be damaged if coffee is spilled on it or it is dropped too many times on a hard surface. The "browse" feature allows you to move instantly to any other sheet, and move backward or forward within the device as you wish. Many come with an "index" feature, which helps pinpoint the exact location of any information you may wish to find.
An optional B.O.O.K. "mark" accessory may be purchased which will allow you to open the B.O.O.K. at the exact place you left in your previous session, even if the B.O.O.K. has been closed. B.O.O.K. marks are made to universal design standards and will thus fit into any B.O.O.K. made by any manufacturer.
You can also make notes in text along the margins of your B.O.O.K. sheets using another accessory, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli, or P.E.N.C.I.L.S.
Portable, durable, and affordable, the B.O.O.K. is being hailed as a precursor to a new entertainment wave. Thousands of content creators have committed to the new platform, and investors - most notably Mssrs. Barnes and Noble - are flocking to support the industry.
[Mikey's Funnies with edits and abridgement by Mark Raymond]
WONDER for YOUR WEEK: How come pages in a book never become cat-eared?
If you've enjoyed what you've read today, get your own subscription for free by clicking here. Mark's Musings is also sent each weekday via email and is available via RSS feed.