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This was a ficticious corporate entity in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, that came of a merger between the Library of Congress and the CIA as the US, or at least the government, fell apart. The seperate branches of government saw in each other that the CIA was masterful at obtaining information from even the unlikliest sources, and that the Library was the foremost authority in information storage, organization, and retrieval. They therefore merged, incorporated for profit, and therefore charge fees for access to their database. (For a real-life parallel, see Jane's Information Group.)

Information comes from a varitey of sources for the CIC, but most promentent in the book are the "stringers", freelancers who hunt out information (or, in some cases, wait for it to happen to them, as in the case of Hiro Protagonist, the book's protagonist.) and upload it into the massive database. Should someone find the information useful, the person who uploaded that information gets paid a commission; naturally, the number of people who find it useful increase the amount of payment, and presumably there are other factors, including length, information density, accuracy, etc. Other services provided, beyond raw information from the field agents (for additional charges, of course), are such items as Earth, a program which presents the subscriber with a 3-D model of earth that displays weather, geographic, political, et al information; the Raft report, as an aid to those in the path of hoards of refugees; and the Librarian, an extraordinarly advanced and heuristic database search tool.

It has always struck me, since I read the book, that there is at least a moderate level of similarity between the CIC and databases such as Everything, at least in so far as it is added to, and essentially maintained, by free agents who see fit to add more information to the database. Beyond that, though, the lack of access cost and preponderance of philanthropy is to be prefered--the only pity is that Everything write-ups are not yet considered by my teachers to be valid for research-paper bibliographies.

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