About this project
We made it this far, thank you all! But there's still so much more to do and so much further to go. If we can raise another 20-30%, we can start work on our multilingual apps and more. We're already talking with some software engineers about doing just that! See below or here about our Fourth Phase and what we can still do with your ongoing support!
-- Who We Are --
We are the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research, founded in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, in December 2011. We provide liberal arts educational opportunities to local communities, as well as material and intellectual support and space for young scholars to teach, write, research, publish, and work.
-- The Goal of our Project --
The goal of our Kickstarter fundraising campaign is to raise at least $7500 in support of our ~Archive project. The ~Archive will enable easy electronic access to out-of-print or hard to find academic texts.
-- How Your Money Helps --
Your money will help to fund our three phase, proof-of-concept plan. In Phase 1, we procure and reproduce a single pre-1923 book whose copyright status is not in question. In Phase 2, we procure and reproduce a single book published after 1923 whose copyright status is questionable. In Phase 3, we procure and reproduce an out-of-print book with clear copyright ownership and that is unlikely to be printed again in the near future.
Okay, the ~Archive is a tool. How does it work?
It happens every day. Mostly to academics, journalists, and other knowledge professionals, but also to anyone who is conducting independent research or simply trying to figure out something that's just beyond the reach of Google, Wikipedia, or even the local library. You find a reference to an important but impossible to find text. It could be old. It could be out of print. It could be rare. All you know is that you need it and you can't have it. These are not the old books you can already get for free on your Kindle or iPad through Project Gutenberg, or what you can find, sometimes incomplete, on Google Books. We love these services and wonder how we ever lived without them. We are talking about a lot of other stuff. Stuff that fell through the cracks. Works that history forgot to record, except for a tiny reference in an essay or a newspaper review. Books that are crumbling in an archive or private collection, which normally couldn’t be reproduced without permanent damage. And that's where our ~Archive comes in.
But let’s back up a minute. We’re the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research and we are creating new spaces, new tools, and new possibilities for scholarship in the 21st century. We teach classes, run a podcast series, and support researchers and scholars in the strange new world of the 21st century academy. One of the tools we realized that we and a whole lot of other people need is a way to get access to these kinds of texts. And we wanted to find a way to open up this access to anyone else who needs them, too. At the same time, our good friends at Singularity&Co were developing some of the physical and legal technologies to rescue old science fiction books that were out of print and often in legal limbo, and to recreate them as e-books, all without destroying the original books and while striving to compensate authors for their hard work. They agreed to lend us some of their technical and legal expertise to help get our project off the ground. But we need your help to get us not just over, but miles past the finish line. Here is our proposal, outlined in concurrent phases.
Phase 1: A single pre-1923 book (Estimated Cost: $2000+): 6 Months
In Phase 1, we get off the ground. We procure and reproduce a single book published before 1923. This avoids copyright complications and allows us to focus on getting our servers up and running; to evaluate the feasibility of the physical process for the kinds of materials we will be reproducing; to develop easy-to-share software to display the works, redeemed and fully searchable, in the ~Archive; and also to allow for separate e-book authoring in more convenient formats. While the full content will always be available online for free, these e-book versions, whether for iPad, Kindle, computers or other devices, would be available for a small fee to help keep the project sustainable and scalable.
Phase 2: A single post-1923 book with questionable copyright status (Estimated Cost: $2500+): 8 Months
This is where things start to get tricky. In Phase 2, we procure and reproduce a single book published after 1923 whose copyright status is in question. This means not only carefully researching the copyright status of the desired work, but also navigating the choppy waters of copyright law as it applies to academic works and pertinent existing institutions. This phase also potentially involves negotiating a fair and respectful arrangement with an author or other copyright holder. This may prove to be difficult, time-consuming, and costly. But it is also worth it: if we want to make these methods replicable on a meaningful scale, to benefit a diverse community of users, it will be necessary to develop bodies of knowledge, strategies, and relationships that can be easily shared and repeatedly utilized.
Phase 3: An out-of-print book with clear copyright ownership (Estimated Cost: $3000+): 12 Months
This is where things get really difficult. In Phase 3, we procure and reproduce a single book, which is simply out of print and not likely to come back into print in the foreseeable future. Costs could potentially skyrocket here. But this phase is a crucial step toward the goal of producing an easy-to-share and self-sustaining tool. The technologies and methodologies we will develop in the first two phases will hopefully allow us to make an enticing and equitable offer to a copyright holder who might not otherwise be interested in reproducing the book electronically, let alone issuing a full-on physical reprint.
Phase 4: Beyond! (Estimated Cost $????+)
What? I thought we were supposed to be finished at $7500? In a sense, we will. We will have procured and reproduced our three proof-of-concept books and honed our technologies and methodologies. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. We would love to push our tool to its absolute limits. For example, we would love to produce new dual-language, or even multilingual, editions of texts, to develop the technology to show not only the original language and a translation in clearly connected and easy-to-navigate ways, but to legally procure and display multiple layers of translations all in a single e-edition. Imagine the excitement of an edition of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason that displays all the most prominent English translations juxtaposed with the original German. Okay, so that might excite us a bit more than it does you. But imagine other possibilities that are more to your tastes. In fact, please, tell us about them! What's more, we could give scholars who hold the permission to reproduce their own work -- anything from monographs to data sets to book reviews and essay collections -- a platform not only to make their work widely available and easily searchable, but also to be able to earn some money from those who download their work in the more convenient formats.
We have already begun the hard work of experimenting with new ideas and modes of teaching and conducting research in the 21st century, in ways that respect learning, respect scholars, and respect scholarship. We are working to help bridge the gap between "the public" and "the ivory tower." Our ~Archive is the next step in this project.
With your support, our ~Archive can help to preserve and spread knowledge in a way that both democratizes access to it and respects the rights and hard work of authors. With the proper backing and development, it can become an indispensable tool in the lives of countless people. Thank you!
(Proud to be part of "Kicking it Forward")
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