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Our World in Data is Great and Getting Better; or, How I Destroyed Several Billion Medieval Manuscripts

Revisionist History

Thursday, 20:02 hrs

I report an error on an OWID graph in their preliminary collection of information about books. Some of the numbers for manuscript production from the 6th-15th centuries are out by a factor of 1000.*

Cycle Speed

Thursday, 20:59 hrs

I receive an email from OWID thanking me; the graph has been fixed:

This is the internet at its best. What would Gutenberg make of it?***

* The graph reads 1.4 billion manuscripts produced in Italy* in 1450 (an unlikely quantity for a population of only a few million people with a less than 15% literacy rate), with an equivalent margin of error for several other countries based on a misreading of the source.
**Note that Italy as such didn’t exist at the time.
***He might have enjoyed the destruction of the manuscripts.****
****But note that manuscript production actually peeks in the century after the arrival of the printing press.

I'd love to hear your thoughts and recommended resources...