Which is one way of explaining Paul Graham’s work on his hundred-year language, which he named Arc. The project is ambitious, perhaps even megalomaniacal. Which may be why it works equally well to interpret it as a project based in altruism or as a project bred from selfishness. Whether his goal is to start a project that he’ll never himself get to finish or use in its realized form, or his goal is to use the best programming language on the planet even if he has to write it himself, his goal is to create something so spectacularly good that it will benefit everyone. As is clear from his essays and other writing related to Arc, he’s willing to fail, publicly, in its pursuit.
I hope libraries are ready to do the same. I hope we’re ready to work individually and together to identify the hundred-year library for ourselves. And I hope we’re ready to work publicly and without fear of failure to bring it about in a span far shorter than a hundred years.