Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
The Buffalo Public Library in 1983 (1883) (wikisource.org)
99 points by polm23 7 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 22 comments

>I found there an apparently full collection of the Buffalo press and the journals of the neighboring towns, but no other American papers. I expressed my surprise. My guide said that half a century before the preservation of newspapers had become one of the most perplexing problems of library economy.

This was interesting to read! It turns out, per https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microform, microforms didn't really get going until the early 1900s.

> We have not yet escaped the preponderant use of fiction though we have diminished it since your day. It used to be 75 per cent. Thanks to our training the school children in good ways it has fallen to forty

The dreams of yore...

Amazing. And what will people think of our targets for literacy, numeracy, etc in a century or two?

Interesting how much emphasis is put on ventilation. I guess the soporific effects of stale air were well-known in 1883, though they didn’t have CO2 monitors of course :)

Also maybe they knew things about cooling buildings without AC that we have forgotten.

An interesting quirk of old buildings is a structure called a "transom" - a space above a door which could be opened to allow for the free flow of air. Regrettably, it also allowed for highly effective oxygenation of fire, resulting in countless deaths, and so has been excised from the architectural lexicon.

I came here expecting to correct a typo in the title ;) But this is amazing. I love the late 1800s. TFA has electricity from Niagara Falls, HVAC and mechanical automation.

According to Wikipedia, hydro power was in use for some time, but electricity was relatively new. The generator opened in 1881, just two short years before this was written.

Not enough time for its full usefulness to be seen directly, but plenty to stoke the imagination.

Living during the advent of electric power must have been a fun time. So much that was impossible was now possible, a big door just opened.


For context, Cragside[1] in the Northeast of the UK was the first electrified house in the world, and was powered by hydro, that was in 1870, it got incandescent light bulbs in 1880, so this is definitely forward looking.

[1] https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cragside

It was even more fun to live during the advent of the information superhighway :)

Indeed — but what is the next big one? Maybe AGI?

Assuming AGI is possible at all,which, the theory says, is undecided conjecture.

As someone with a physics background, I'm struggling to think of a theory under which AGI is impossible. We have an existence proof for GI, and no evidence from neurology of structures so unique that we could not build an analog of them.

Yes, I don't see why AGI would be impossible. All you need is Turing completeness, and a workable approach, right?

Still, coming up with a workable approach could be very difficult. We and other animals are the only existence proof. And that's all based on a billion years or more of ~random variation and selection. So it'll likely be way overcomplicated and inelegant.

... which will also be the last big one...

That depends on how you look at it. From the perspective of meat machines, sure. But from the perspective of general intelligences, which have some ancestry in meat machines, not at all. Just something that happened way back when. Like electrical engineering.

With respect to the insistence on low ceilings, the actual Buffalo Public Library has a hidden floor between the main floor and upper floor which is mostly for storage, which I recall had a disorientingly low ceiling and spartan lighting.

Sounds like a datacenter couched in 19th century terms.

Libraries are the original datacenters, I suppose.

That area in the late 1800s and early 1900s is in my top 3 destinations for when I get my time machine.

Me to, especially as a Buffalo native.

“Spade husbandry” is such a wonderful term!

Applications are open for YC Winter 2020

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact