Print to Electronic: A Problem?

There have been times when reading was regarded with suspicion. Some among the ancient Greeks regarded the rise of reading as cultural decline: they considered oral dialogue, which involves clarifying questions, more hospitable to truth. But the transition from an oral to a print culture has generally been a transition from a tribal society to a society of self-consciously separated individuals. In Europe that transition alarmed ruling elites, who thought the “crisis of literacy” was that there was too much literacy: readers had, inconveniently, minds of their own. Reading is inherently private, hence the reader is beyond state supervision or crowd psychology.

Which suggests why there are perils in the transition from a print to an electronic culture. Time was, books were the primary means of knowing things. Now most people learn most things visually, from the graphic presentation of immediately, effortlessly accessible pictures.

This is an interesting assertion, but I don’t see where the proof is. Why is there a peril in switching from print to the electronic culture simply because the elite thought reading let you know too much?

The fact is that online education is fast and often self-correcting. Minute by minute updates of information are often available.

It is true that the quality of online information varies considerably, but doing a little research will isolate the useless from the useful.

I do not see where the change from print to electronic is necessarily bad. IF all the print is available as electronic.

And with millions of Harry Potter being sold on the day of release, you can’t say books are dead.

Original quote from George Will, 2004.

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