Is wood pulp obsolete?

I've been worrying this year about whether the fact Will & I have a lot of books means we are really old.  This started when my final-year dissertation students (undergraduates) were asking me about all the book in my office -- where did I get them, how much did it cost to have so many, did I actually read them -- I mean, reasonable questions, but in aggregate I realized they were alien objects that the students vaguely lusted after like the latest Apple gadget but weren't sure they were worth the trouble.

Will suggested at some point that we should think about collecting books as an investment.  I thought it was a great idea.  But I don't think he has, at least not deliberately. 

Today I met Alastair Gill (who was in town for a talk, but had Will as a tutor when we were in Edinburgh) an Etienne Roesch for lunch.  It was  a fantastic day & we wound up having tea in the tea garden of the assembly rooms, which is normally impossible, because they never open the tea room.  However, there was a book fair.  I picked up a few books and was surprised to see how much the type of thing I used to pick up in Chicago all the time is now worth. I bought a couple over-priced books that I wanted to read.  And now our books are not really books like they used to be, they are art we enjoy collecting.  It's kind of cool, but kind of sad.  Books as, you know, books -- as information you couldn't get any other way, that was a great idea for a very long time.  That idea changed the world.

Speaking of, I got a copy in the post of the first book that Will & I both have book chapters in.  The inside of the book is great & I think they could have sold a lot of copies.  But the outside is utterly lame and clearly the publisher is not even going to try.  But really, the chapters are not very academic, and the whole idea is very interesting -- what will it be like to have artificial companions?   But the top of the book says that it is about natural language processing, even though hardly any of the chapters even mention language.

My chapter is called Robots Should Be Slaves.

And I guess it should be obvious, but this blog post & my new books are in honour of my being made a Reader.