August 14, 2009

Bonfire of the Vanities

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:14 pm by Iain

Future textbooks

It’s so surreal actually seeing this happen. The internet supplanting the written word, que interesante!

The funniest thing about all this is I’ve actually had a conversation about this with my brilliant and also slightly mad professor-mentor. His argument was that Kindle and the internet were soon going to replace libraries and bookstores, despite the fetishism that so many people place on the books themselves. It was actually quite convincing. But, then again, he also thought that  the university would be replaced by the internet after we find a way to directly plug the internet into our brain stems, so take that with a grain of salt.

Being the eminent genius that he is, I mostly just sat and tried to absorb everything that he was saying, but to humor myself, both then and now, I tried to respond in turn: I, perhaps mistakenly, thought that as humans, we need some sort of power structure to filter information to us. To me, the very creation of the university, the imposition of Latin as the language of the learned, and the relative difficulty of becoming a university student all pointed toward this. Or more plainly put, the university wasn’t created for the information, but by the information and the need to render it hierarchical.

But now I think I’m starting to side with my half-mad professor. Maybe we are on the cusp of an even further disjointed internet age. Maybe books are a doomed piece of second millennium kitsch. The cultural ascendancy of Twitter sure seems to support that. But then again, we’re never really going to know until our future grandchildren have to physically show us. Slowly, and with great exasperation.

Peeps should be discussin’ this shit!



  1. tkd00d said,

    I really wonder about these things. In the article you linked to, it sounds like the powers that be are trying to put even more students per class, because with all of the multimedia it would be easier to teach. I have my doubts about that, but even more worrying to me is that non-scholastic teacher-student interaction will fall even farther to the wayside and perhaps completely shrivel and die. Especially coming from my particular background (and yours), being friends and interacting with our teachers was far more important than what they were actually teaching. I think the last thing the world needs right now is to become even more impersonal.

  2. Iain said,

    Well said, Torin. Maybe I’m focusing too much on the book->internet part of it, and not enough on the aspect of efficiency through economy. Or maybe even the topic of communication. Do you think as a society we’ve become less personal than we used to be? Or do you think we just assume that because the rapidity of it all makes it seem as if it’s always been this way?

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