[Humanist] 22.665 a billion e-books in Vermont

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Sat Apr 4 07:50:45 CEST 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 665.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Thu, 2 Apr 2009 16:55:37 -0300
        From: renata lemos <renata.lemoz at eletrocooperativa.org>
        Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.662 a billion e-books, and what might happen with them, vermont is great!

dear hope,
you bring hope, indeed!

the clean air of vermont surely adds clarity to the mind.

thank you!

renata lemos

> --[4]------------------------------------------------------------------------
>        Date: Tue, 31 Mar 2009 11:07:43 -0400
>        From: Hope Greenberg <hope.greenberg at uvm.edu>
>        > with them?
>        In-Reply-To: <20090331052755.230BB307C3 at woodward.joyent.us>
> Willard asked:
> So, I'd guess, we should start looking for new behaviours with the amounts
> of digital written stuff we have. So, what's new?
> Which is better: more books online or fewer books online? That question
> is less interesting to me than the one Willard asks. History is rife
> with examples of events that altered our perception of the world around
> us, that moved societies and cultures in new directions. These examples
> occur in context with other events, however, so while we can look back
> and say "yes, at this point this event contributed to this result,"
> predicting the future still remains an exercise in creativity and
> fantasy. Thus, if we do not know how a specific event will shape, or be
> shaped by, concurrent events, nor how these threads will manifest
> themselves in the tapestry of the future, can we at least tease out some
> of them? Looking for new behaviours seems to be a way to do that.
> So, what is new? One of the joys of interacting with people born after
> 1990, or with those who have thrown themselves wholeheartedly into the
> online world for many years regardless of their age, is the opportunity
> to observe how their interaction with that world is shaping their
> perception of information, its acquisition and use. ('d like, here, to
> broaden the conversation from online books, even online texts, to online
> information.) Getting information or building information, when we
> consider the traditional scholarly approach, involved hard work, much
> thought, much time, a willingness to follow specific paths, endure
> established trials, and an immense effort to learn. I will never forget
> the first time I realised that, while Professor X did indeed carry
> around a wealth of information on his given topic, his greater skill was
> the ease with which he could summon up the correct reference volume or
> bibliographic volume related to his subject to find answers. Amassing
> that infrastructure consumed enough time to be considered the basis for
> his, and many others', definition of scholarship. Much of that process,
> that work, is now perceived as the work of a few minutes effort by
> someone with decent Boolean search skills.
> One of the major changes, then, is the idea that "it's all online" (or
> if it isn't it will be soon). We noticed this when all references on
> student papers began coming from online sources. But that is only one
> small sliver. There is joy and relief in knowing that if I have a
> question regarding some minutiae related to a film I can probably
> satisfy my curiosity at IMDB. Or if something comes up in conversation
> or in the media about a topic I can probably get a cursory answer or at
> least some leads at Wikipedia. Regardless of one's belief in the
> fallibility or infallibility of either source, or the arguments that
> swirl around the comprehensiveness of such sources, their limitations,
> the fact that they are shaped by current ideas of what's important and
> that much information is being lost because it is not being put online
> (or will be lost because it is being put online but not managed),
> notions of information literacy, or information silos, etc. etc., the
> fact remains that for many people information is now something that is
> easily accessible, not something that requires a lifetime to obtain. Or
> as my teenage daughter asks, in all sincerity, "how did people manage
> before the web?" A million books, a billion books, read deeply or
> cursorily--the difference in number hardly matters when we are
> approaching and amount that equates in people's mind to "everything."
> How does that kind of perception change the world? Ah, that is back to
> predicting the future. But I put it out here as one of core ideas that
> has, and will, change behaviors.
> hope.greenberg at uvm.edu, U of Vermont

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