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One of the greatest treasures of Western scholarship has been made available for the public to view at their leisure, in such stunning high resolution that you can zoom into the very grain of the paper.

Absolutely anyone with a web browser can instantly access what was once available only to a select few scholars, and even then only under the least convenient of circumstances.

A mere handful of years ago, the only way the average person would have even seen one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks would be in a museum display, assuming they knew of the display, had the wherewithal to visit, and the resources to get there if it wasn't in their own city.

Now, the British Museum has made literally hundreds of priceless manuscripts, from da Vinci to Beowulf, available to even the most casual reader who happens to click on a link, thanks to their careful preservation, curation, and digitization, all at no cost to the viewer.

What's the response? Complaining. "Yes, fine, but I wanted to _download_ it, not just see it!"

Yup, this is the Internet, alright.

Complaining is the main source of progress. The British Museum wouldn't have done this without anyone complaining. The British Museum wouldn't even exist without anyone complaining "but we need to save all this knowledge ..." and so on. People always lament the complaining but never praise it as the source of progress it is.

If the image viewer they chose wasn't garbage I'd be okay with only being able to browse online.

It's a humongous, impressive step that the notebook has been digitized and made publicly available. Surely the step to be able to download is only a trivial slight further step, the flicking of a switch, that has been prevented probably just for some bureaucratic reason.

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