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Some texts and references are quite venerable, having survived many editions. The Materials Handbook sometimes has statements in it that betray great age; references to porpoise leather, chalmoogra oil and the like. That stuff is fun but would be more fun if I knew more of its provenance.
colored text is a little too frufru for a paper text. But it would be easy (and easy to turn off) in an electronic text. I propose that different colors correspond to different editions, so one could learn the vintage of statements which had made it thru to the present. If there existed electronic versions of the previous editions this would not be that tough to do, either.
I can imagine clicking on the purple text about the tanning properties of Asian dog dung and lo! - the text changes to mostly purple. It is the 1951 edition from which that text hails. There are fewer colors because of fewer previous editions. But now I can dig into the uses of dung that are only hinted at in the more recent edition before switching back to the present.
an older, but related, invention [pertinax, Sep 28 2015]
||In these more eco-friendly days, perhaps publishers
ought to be required to manage end-of-life reuse of
old textbooks. Rather than simply pulping them,
they could be scanned, laser-cut, and the words and
sentences pasted back together to create newer
||You could treat email spam, junk mail, and currencies in a similar way, but it would not be as interesting to me as Asian dog dung.
||There have been some entertaining stories of the bollocks Darwin added to later editions of the Origins of Species, which have been surpressed by the media.
||But how do species evolve without bollocks?
||It occurs to me that The Handbook Of Chemistry And Physics
has undergone extensive revisions on many an occasion.
Whole tables in old editions were declared obsolete and
excluded from later editions. I for one would like to see
ALL the different tables that had ever been in it.