What Star Trek got Right and Wrong about Books

What Star Trek got Right and Wrong about Books

When you have to many books

Living in a Silicon Valley cottage it became clear that something was going to have to go.  Unfortunately for me that meant that my wife’s and my rather large collection of books was on the chopping block.  So one weekend we took to sorting what we had accumulated over our many years of reading/collecting, this one we couldn’t part with, that one we wouldn’t re-read so it was out!  We ended-up with many, many boxes.  Some were to be taken to the used book store to be sold, fitting since that was were most had come from.  The rest plus the unsold ones were donated to our local charity where we hoped they would find a new home.  We thought this was likely since my wife, a first grade teacher was parting with many of her children’s books.

Why do so many people have an emotional attachment to books?  We collect and display them even though we know the chances of re-reading them are slim to none.  Yet it is undeniable that many of us get a sense of emotional well being being surrounded by the sight of our books on their bookshelves.  Rarely have I ever even taken any of my old books down to glance through them, yet the thought of getting rid of them filled me with apprehension.  Is it because they say something about us?  More then once I found my friends looking at my books, I can imagine what they were thinking, “Of course he would have that one, that is so him.”  Or perhaps it is because of the emotional investment we have in them, long nights spent reading a good story when we really should be asleep getting ready for the next day.  Or perhaps it is the intellectual investment of puzzling through an authors thoughts to find the meaning, and to judge him or her worthy of our time.

Star Trek and the future of books

Mr. Spock would not be amused.  Realistically given modern technology, even in the 21st Century, books are archaic. They take-up a ton of space, they are heavy and inconvenient to carry, they are expensive and they unnecessarily use resources in ways that are bad for the environment (they take energy of produce and move, the dyes used to make white paper are often toxic etc).

Star Trek’s library computer is a much better way to handle this.  Cheap, efficient and much better at handling information than our stupid books.  In the 1960’s Star Trek was probably the first exposure most people had to the idea of digitizing information.  Indexable, searchable, space and energy efficient, what else would you have on a star ship? Yet it is clear that someone had the same angst as me, hence we have Mr. Cogley. 



“If time wasn’t so important I’d show you something, my library, thousands of books!”

Wouldn’t you think that Star Trek’s technological visionaries would be gong ho about the library computer?  But here we have an anti-technology rant in favor of good old fashioned books.  Of course the people who made Star Trek are artist and writers, who is going to love books more than a writer?  Star Trek has always been about humanism and the plight of Men and Women in the face of an at best indifferent and sometimes violent universe.  With anger lurking around every corner you will need the comfort of books.

And that is why we now have about a dozen boxes of books in our storage unit.


Can Yahoo save democracy?

It is fashionable these days to bemoan the state of democracy, voter participation is weak, public engagement is in decline and many citizens feel powerless and alienated. In fact many people do not even register to vote! Yet it is a fundamental assumption that...

Geek Books!

This is neither Political Science or Science Fiction, but if you know the difference between a UI interface and an SQL server (as I know many of you do) then this post is for you.  Eric Ligman, a Microsoft minion, is giving away a bunch of free e-books.  The really...

A Star Trek documentary?

A Star Trek documentary?  Hasn't that been done to death?  Well, yes and no.  Sure their are plenty of Star Trek documentaries around, but this one is a little different.  It is being done by Adam Nimoy, Leonard Nimoy's son.  I wouldn't expect an unbiased view of...

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to speak at Stanford

As part of the observation of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will be speaking at Stanford University June 25th at 3pm.  Of course this is because Stanford is such an excellent place (although I am biased since I work here)!...

Getting to know President Lincoln

The problem with history is that it is so far away.  Reading about a noble figure such as Abraham Lincoln so often leaves one feeling oddly detached from the very figure that we are trying to get to know.  Reading about his leadership during the Civil War, his great...

Read Edgar Allan Poe (for free)

Sure you could go to the library but what you really want is to stay home in your pajamas and still be entertained. So here is a link to the Poe Museum which has among other things many of Poe's writings available for free. Enjoy!

Science Fiction: Catalyst for Reality

If your going to be in Seattle on May 20th 2015 you might want to check out this get together at the Microsoft campus, Science Fiction: Catalyst for Reality.  With Greg Bear as a presenter and run in conjunction with MIT's Enterprise Forum Northwest it promises to be...

A Magna Carta Cartoon!

Most Americans tend to think that the ideas in the Declaration of Independence were original to Thomas Jefferson and his contemporaries, but as they say, their is nothing new under the sun!  Take a minute to learn about the Magna Carta.  Courtesy of the British...

Privacy Tools: How to Block Online Tracking

Author Name, ProPublica. July 3, 2014, 9 a.m. Many sites (including ProPublica) track user behavior using a variety of invisible third-party software. This means any time you visit a web page, you're likely sharing data about your online habits, from clicks to views...

Poor Godzilla

I finally got to see Godzilla, an enjoyable but vapid experience. Rather then a real review here is a short list of the more outlandish physics problems: (minor spoilers included) When the damaged nuclear reactor core melts down the escaping steam expands at the same...

Donald Duck says, pay your taxes (to beat the Axis)

Do you want to get an Italian mad? Tell them how boring soccer, I mean football, is. That was a hell of a game last night wasn't it Adolfo, one to one, bet you've never seen that before! And lets not talk about the French and cheese. You want to get an American mad?...

See a Real Time Media Map

Data visualization is all the rage these days, usually these sites are an interesting exercise in rehashing someone else's data which is interesting to look at and think about for a moment and then quickly forgotten.  So it is good to see a site that brings something...

Science Fiction

Internet Speculative Fiction Database

Science Fiction Encyclopedia

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

Science Fiction Spaceships

Science Fiction Studies

Speculative Fiction Tropes

Starship Dimenssions




Star Trek


Ex Astris Scientia


Daystrom Institute



Memory Alpha

Trek Today

Star Wars



Star Gate

Gate World

Stargate Command

Babylon 5

Lurkers Guide to Babylon 5


Issac Asimov

David Brin

Charlie’s Diary

Philip K. Dick

Kim Stanley Robinson


Politics and Political Science

Current Events

Key L=left   R=Right  M=moderate

S=Socialist   Libe=libertarian


alternet (L)

The American Prospect (L)

The American Spectator (R)

BHL (libe)

crooks and liars (L)

Dissent (L)

The Economist (M)

FiveThirtyEight (M)

The Hill (R)

Jacobin (S)

Jobs with Justice (L)

Maclean’s (M)

The Moderate Voice (M)

Mother Jones (L)

Monthly Review (S)

The Nation (L)

The National Review (R)

The New American (R)

The New Statesman (L)

The New Republic (L)

People for the American Way (L)

Politics1 (M)

Politico (M)

ProPublica (M)

reason (Libe)

ThinkProgress (L)

Tikkun (L)

The Washington Free Beacon (R)

The Weekly Standard (R)

The XX Committee (R)







National Popular Vote

On The Issues

Sunlight Foundation


Political Science


The Avalon Project

Brookins (L)

The Hamilton Project

Hoover Institution (R)

Political Science Rumors



Social Sciences


Washington Center for Equitable Growth


Ancient History Encyclopedia


The Atlantic






America’s Public Bible


Bible Hub

Pangea blog


Sacred Text Archive

Skeptic’s Annotated Bible



In the Middle


Literature and Media


New Books network

Overthinking It

Purdue Online Writing Lab


Physical Science and Technology

ars techmica

Big Picture Science

Centauri Dreams

future of life institute

ITPro Today



PC Mag

Preposterous Universe

Quanta magazine