I read a recent article equating e-readers with our ever-shortening attention spans. This was a totally uneccessary and a somewhat strange position to take in view of the other. important issues the author stated later on in his article. After all, anyone who can still read more than a thousand words not edited down to a series of acronyms and basic phonetic forms is relatively okay in the attention-span department.
No. there are other issues to concern readers; problems I rarely see listed or discussed. Let’s forget for a moment about the bigger, scarier problems involving e-readers: the amount of rare and toxic elements needed to make as many e-readers as there are book readers, the constant sruggle for the newest,best, reader with the most memory.
Here’s my issue with e-readers: the irrefutable, verifiable nature of the printed word.
Would many of us know or recognize a small change in, say, Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man? Couldn’t a small change or omission in this document mean a great deal of difference to it’s message? How would you reference the similarities and differences without the “hard copy” of the document in your hands? And there’s more: what if, for lack of interest, all the works of,say, Ambrose Bierce became unavailable? What if half the works of Rimbaud fell off the server?
Make no mistake: e-readers are here to stay. But I think the prediction of the paperless society will be, once again,way off the mark.
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