Twenty years ago, I decided to learn to touch type. Struggling with conventional classes, I looked for an alternative and discovered that the psychologist Robert Dilts had just invented a computer program that could teach me. No Google in those days; it was fortuitous that I already knew Robert, having trained under him. So I bought a copy and became the first person in the UK to learn to type without tears. Such programs are now commonplace (e.g. Mavis Beacon) but Robert was the genius behind them.
The relevance of this is that I was trying to find a copy of Robert’s book Strategies of Genius III to give context to the photomontage. Volumes I and II are out of print but available from AA Books. Volume III has, however, disappeared into the Twighlight Zone.
I feel really sad that this book is no longer available. It is a valuable contribution to our thinking about Leonardo (also Freud and Tesla) and the beginnings of a discussion, at least, about how we might teach ourselves and our students to think like he did. In a rational society, such books would not be permitted to simply disappear.
Which brings me, in a roundabaout way, to Google Print. Google has taken upon itself to digitise some 10 million books, the vast majority of them out of print. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. American libraries alone list 32 million books of which just 4% are in print. Even allowing for duplications, translations and so forth, the total number of books that exist as at least one copy somewhere in the world must be in the range of 100-250 million.
Even using these amazing machines, it’s likely to take Google a while to get around to my particular book, or to the one that you feel equally strongly about. After all, to quote the Kirtas promotional video, we have a 500-year backlog.
Update: Look what Miranda found!
Click to enlarge
Strategies of Genius