On Permanence: An Epilogue of sorts

In a previous chapter, I used the word “grow” for the evolution of a chapter. The choice of word was important and carefully made. It also applies to the book as a whole.

The written word, once written, has some permanence. This should not be any different for a book that is not “printed”. What is written, barring new editions and new discoveries, is written. It can be corrected but it shouldn’t be seen as so malleable that it can change between today and tomorrow. That’s one of the reasons why Wikipedia is often used as an example of a place not to get answers from when you are researching a paper for university or some other school. It’s not that the information is necessarily always bad, it’s just that from one moment to the next you can’t tell if what you are looking at is good. It may have just been added, it may be an edit which has introduced an error, and so on.

A serious scientific textbook type of thing, which this work has aspirations of being, is expected to be a resource that is at least correct – for some value of correct – which means that when you look at it, you expect that what you read is not written in error. In fact, of course, errors can and do creep in and can be corrected or expanded on in revisions and addenda. No ‘science’ book is ever ‘finished,’ just like no science endeavour is really ever complete. It’s the nature of the thing.

All of which means this: the ‘book’ you have reached the end of is not finished and (until I shuffle off this mortal coil and join the bleeding’ choir invisible) I would like to think that I’ll potter about in it, adding bits and not taking bits out. Yes, you read that right: not taking bits out because then you won’t know what was written before and why it changed. I’ll just strike it out and explain why, which seems to me to be a much more sensible way to manage and understand the evolution of information in a digital document and gives you, the reader, the context with which to learn more. Bear in mind that Hypothesis is also enabled for the book, at least on the Pressbooks site, so you can annotate to your hearts content, and share the same with others.

Which bits am I working on now? (A list that will likely change!). Further reading sections, much more in the Pioneers chapter and a chapter on security and trust, to link with the trustless systems and webs of trust chapters as well as more on attacks and defences. But right now, you have reached the end. Except for a list I am curating of further reading for the interested which, as the Pioneers chapter states, is based on a few decades of thought but is also a tad subjective.

Thanks for getting to the end. I would love to hear from you if you liked, looked, hated, didn’t find what you needed, or just plain didn’t care for what you did find. It will mean a lot to me as I potter about in it.

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Trust Systems by Stephen Marsh is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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