afterward on privatizing science

Chuck Grimes cgrimes at
Tue May 29 20:51:09 PDT 2001

In a follow up on the Ian Murray's `Privatizing Science' thread, here is an amusing afterward.

Today, I went up to Cody's to look around for an elementary Algebra Two text or outline to see if I could con Joe M, my work buddy into continuing. As unlikely as that might be, I thought it would interesting to think about trying.

While looking around the math section, what do I see but a giant volumn called `CRC Concise Encyclopedia of Mathematics', editor, Eric Weisstein! (Its been there for about a year. I just never noticed before) Even though I know this is the devil's own cookbook, evil spawn of the corporate pig hegemony, vile thing that should be surrounded by wreaths of garlic and dead chicken feet, well I couldn't resist it. It must weigh fifteen pounds, and runs 1969 pages in a 8.5 x 11 format and costs 99.99. (Too many nines).

Anyway, here is an excerpt from the introduction:

``...The initial document was written in Microsoft Word on a Mac Plus computer, and had reached about 200 pages by the time I started graduate school in 1990. When Andrew Trevorrow made his OzTeX program available for the Mac, I began the task of converting all my documents to TeX, resulting in a vast improvement in readability. While undertaking the Word to TeX conversion, I also began cross-referencing entries, anticipating that eventually I would be able to convert the entire document to hypertext. This hope was realized beginning in 1995, when the Internet explosion was in full sweing and I learned of Nikos Drakos's excellent TeX to HTML converter, LateX2HTML. After some additional effort, I was able to post the HTML version of my encyclopedia on the World Wide Web, currently located at'''

Don't look there of course since it was changed over to the Wolfram site about a year or so later and then zapped by the CRC lawsuit.

The important thing to note in the above quote is the layout details and how to put them together to produce both a technical book and a web text. I think there are now shareware versions of all these programs for the Winsuck crowd.

In any event, the CRC text is produced in 8.5 x 11 format, which means proofing was done at home on a laser printer and then the dvi or ps files were sent to the commerical printer who produced the film directly off the files. There are off-set systems that make computer to off-set press a single step (assuming the editing was done on the computer).

These little technical details should have resulted in a explosion of very cheap, abundant, and well made books and textbooks---an entire library in both solid (print) and effermal (electronic) forms. Certainly everything taught from first grade through PhD's should be available in both formats. Of course they are not available and what is available, cost more than ever. Of course he single biggest reason is the CPH bottleneck.

Chuck Grimes

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