Saturday, January 23, 2010

Printing the internet

There is an old joke about some CEO who heard about how the internet was going to be the next big thing and asked his secretary to print it out for him so he could have a look for himself. I was thinking of that joke when Blogger waved an advertisement for Blog2Print under my nose. That service takes any blog RSS feed, and converts it into a printed book. So if I wanted, I could print out my blog.

Sounds nice, but there are some problems. The obvious one is volume of content, leading to cost. I created an example "book" from my blog feed just for one year, 2009, without comments, and the book had over 500 pages, and would cost $200 in soft cover to print out. Then of course the entries of a blog in their original order do not make a good book at all, because for example the chapters on my characters in WoW aren't subsequent, but interrupted by blog entries on other games, or about blogging, or other subjects.

The less obvious problem is intellectual property. Morally speaking the content on my blog is my intellectual property, but technically it is in the public domain. Thus if YOU want my blog in print, there is nothing to prevent you to pay those $200 to Blog2Print to have all my posts of 2009 in a nice softcover volume to read in the train. But I wont see a single cent of that money, it will be the Blog2Print people who keep it all. That seems somewhat unfair to me, even if legally there isn't anything I could do about it. And technically the only thing I could do to prevent it is to shut down my RSS feed, but that would close out half of my readers.

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