Knowledge in the margin

This article was written in 2013. It might or it might not be outdated. And it could be that the layout breaks. If that’s the case please let me know.

When I was young I used to read books from my parents’ library. In the margin of these books I’d often find scribbles, written with pencil, by my father. They’d either mark a grammatical error in the text, or they’d complement the underlined text with a remark. This could be a shout of joy, a disagreement or a title of a source where more information about the subject could be found. My parents have a library of thousands and thousands of books. Not all of these books will have highlights in them, but many of them will. That’s an incredible amount of knowledge, packed into the margins of books. It’s also an incredible amount of knowledge that’s inaccessible to the world.

A few minutes ago Sjoerd Kranendonk liked one of my highlights on Readmill. I think that’s funny. But if all my father’s notes could somehow be imported onto the web. That would be amazing, that would be so valuable for everybody who’s reading these books. But it will never happen. It’s just too much work to check every page in every book in my parents’ house. And — this is why it will really never happen — my father’s handwriting is just terribly hard to read.

That’s why I read interesting books with Readmill.