Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Instant collections.

Once upon a time, many of us ancient Sherlockians indulged our fondness for the great detective by collecting print references to Sherlock Holmes in scrapbooks. We'd clip them from our local newspaper, magazines to which we subscribed, bar coasters . . . basically, if it was made of wood fiber and flat enough, we'd add it to our books.

Enter the digital age.

The digital age began with some folks printing web articles out and collecting those in scrapbooks. At first, it was a bit like before. You had to stumble across references to Holmes, and there were few enough of those that finding one felt like something.

Enter Google. Amazon. Alibiris.

Suddenly the joy of hunting and finding, whether it was references or books or whatever, pretty much vanished for most of us. You actually had to be interested in something very specialized and work to find it. The random encounter collection was gone.

But today I discovered a new sort of Sherlockian collector out there, who has taken the place of us old Neanderthals . . . the digital collector presence of the web.

scholar.google.com is out there, making any human collector look like a mere insect of collecting. The Google scholar collects references to Sherlock Holmes in scholarly articles. It also collects references to Sherlock Holmes in case law. You just say, "Hey, Google scholar, let me see your collection of mentions of Sherlock Holmes in legal matters, and boom!" There's it's collection.

The robots may not have taken over just yet. No metal men are selling you Starbucks coffee. We may not have artificial intelligences roaming our digital pathways of their own free will just yet. Usually it still takes a real person to carry on a relationship with you on Facebook.

But we mere humans are in for a very interesting time of it ahead. Even as Sherlockians.

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