Sunday, March 19, 2023

Blarg! The Information Please!

Historically speaking, books contain a lot of "non-content information". An example is the author's name, publication date, writing date if necessary, various titles, the publication city, page numbers, and hopefully a DOI or digital object identifier. 

Of late, many books and publications are missing these pieces of data. Typically they fall into two distinct classes: The author/publisher doesn't know better or the author does not ascribe to copyright in principle. The first is just a lack of knowledge, so considered yourself on notice to make this information available in your productions. 

The second is more complex because of an earnest desire to not participate in a convention that is traditional but not obligatory. My suggestion is to do it anyway, convictions be damn. Even if you make stuff up. 

Why? Because what if "Anonymous" pens a document that becomes a significant point of data in history. This means it is the primary point of data in a stream of data. It would become difficult to ascribe it to a title or location in the stream making events prone to confusion. 

Right now, I am looking at dB/dX for an upcoming review. The book is very nice but lacks a real name, and has a nom de plume which is easily confused with a DOI and lacks a date, publication city, etc. 

When citing or referencing such a work, I end up with this: 

C P1R8. (2023). dB/dX v1.0, 1-31,

If my citation looks like that, one has to wonder if I had a stroke. God damn, be kind to reviews and historians and put your name on your work, even if you make something up. 

Homosapien, Funky. (1999). dB/dX v1.0, Save vs Ennui, 1-31,

Anyway, I spoiled the surprise with annoyance. My next review will be of dB/dX v1.0. 


  1. Hey, wow, I didn't expect anyone to review my pet project so formally! I'm flattered that you think this document has the potential to become "a significant point of data in history." :-D

    Apologies if my nom de plume causes annoyance—it is quite common in OSR circles to publish under a pseudonym, however. I take your point about possible confusion with a DOI, though I'm not sure what to do about it since my handle was bestowed rather than assumed.

    There *is* a date in the Change Log at the end of the document, but I can certainly add it to the title or subtitle of the front page in future versions. I'm less sure what I can offer in the way of a publication city without seeming disingenuous. I wonder if you can guess my location and/or background from my writing style…

    Anyway, I hope you find the reading dB/dX somewhat less annoying than citing it.

  2. Thank you! I have been doing reviews for a couple of years now, and a lot of people actually put stuff out there with no name or date at all. I am a history major and social studies educator, it really offends my sensibilities when the basics are left out.

    I'm gonna try real hard not to hand out five stars for just the name, a derivation of dx/dt. That in and of itself is hysterical and more than a epic. I really love the title. I have to stop now, because I don't want a review in the comments section... no one will see it.