Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Systems of the Book and Alexandria 2.0

Sven Birkerts comments in the Atlantic on what may be lost in the page-to-screen transfer:

The [printed] book is part of a system. And that system stands for the labor and taxonomy of human understanding, and to touch a book is to touch that system, however lightly.

The electronic book, on the other hand, represents—and furthers—a circuitry of instant access, which giveth (information) as it taketh away (the great clarifying context, the order). … My fear is that as Wikipedia is to information, so will the Kindle become to literature and the humanities: a one-stop outlet, a speedy and irresistibly efficient leveler of context.

Speaking of digital books and systems, the Economist has an interesting article on Brewster Kahle and the Internet Archive.