As we’ve learned more and more about book history in class, a question that has mounted within me has been: what will book history be like when scholars years from now are studying us? We’ve studied texts that track library catalogues, diaries, trading records…but what will happen now that all of that has become digitized or fallen out of practice? Will it be easier to compound and analyze information due to digitized resources or will it be more difficult when perhaps smaller slivers of historical evidence become buried in the overwhelming information that the internet has to offer?
I think maybe a little bit of both.
Considering what we’ve read these past few days about digital texts and how we as readers consume them, I would have to believe that book history itself will change immensely simply for the fact that books themselves will change. There have been many arguments about whether the internet makes us smarter or dumber, but the undeniable truth is that it changes us as a society. Some of us now read in an “F” pattern, some hyper-read or use the “control-F” function to quickly find the desired information and ignore the rest. This all has me thinking back to the article that we read about the phenomenology of reading. Those processes will probably change as well – and might have already – and will make it necessary for that field of book history to alter its course.
At any rate, I’m going to play on the optimistic side when thinking about the future of book history; with more digital texts available and more ways to compile large-scale data, the possibilities will be endless for anybody – even amateurs like me! And let’s face it: if the world continues along the road of digitizing information, we can’t stop it. But I think it will be worth it.
Unless Apple and Google take over and everything ends. Then, God speed.