The Public Domain Review, a True Wonder-Room in the Form of a Website
With so many dubious sources of information floating around the Net, this one stands out like lighthouse on a stormy night.
The Internet is a phenomenon which, like literature, does not cease to amaze us. It will continue to unfold endlessly because it constantly engenders to new folds. One can actually become a well-read person, or research an entire Ph.D, without ever having to hold a physical book. But, what happens if you don’t actually know what you’re looking for? The overwhelming feeling we get when we face too many options is one of the issues modern man must deal with, which also makes it hard to establish filters that can control the quality of the flows we receive. We can easily get lost among these unruly seas, and losing ourselves leads to paralysis.
Luckily for us though, there is a long tradition of people who are willing to dedicate their time for universal access to knowledge. Websites like The Poetry Foundation, Bartleby and Project Gutenberg have voluntarily catalogued millions of works and great translations that their users can have free access to. However, one of the most fascinating online websites is, definitely, The Public Domain Review, an Open Knowledge Foundation project that has given Faena Aleph a chamber of wonders to review.
Founded by Adam Green and Jonathan Gray, the website presents the reader with some of the most extravagant and beautiful texts the Internet has to offer. In Green’s words, ‘The Public Domain Review aims to be a kind of web-based wunderkammer of works which have entered the public domain, a cabinet of interesting curiosities with comments and criticism from contemporary writers, artists and scholars.’
Public Domain Review could easily be the digital realm’s ideal library. We do not lose time over there; neither does our attention go to waste. Take De Monstris by Fortunio Liceti, or the Vera Historia by Luciano de Samosanta for example: the bestiaries that inhabited the best minds of the 2nd and 12th centuries are undoubtedly worth pouring over and getting lost in. In sum, Public Domain is a luminous example that represents a sound model of digital curatorship.
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