New: Information Architecture: There Oughtta be a Law

I recently read an article by London Times writer Alan Brien in which he wrote

"I used to think that I was the first reader, enraged by the difficulty of tracking down a passage in a long work of reference without re-scanning every single page, who proposed that all non-fictional [sic] books without indexes should be denied copyright."

"Indexes–pleasures of; pitfalls in; regrettable absences of; penalty for failing to provide"
Feb 23 1968 London Times

I encountered this quote as I hunted for an article by Mr Brien--an article I might have found right away if only the publishers of the Times had seen fit to provide an index.

To be clear, though this passage pissed me off when I first encountered it, I don't think Brien was being hypocritical. I think he was being humble. I guess he didn't expect that anyone would go through the Arts sections of decades-old newspaper microfiches looking for his old articles. Manual indexing takes effort. It almost seems an act of hubris to create an index of one's own writing.

(It's times like this when I love my job.)

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Posted 2009-06-08