Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Warning About Digital Publishing

Scott W. Palmer, an associate professor at Western Illinois University, writes today in Inside Higher Education about a number of developments in digital publishing, but questions whether the "emergence of e-books and 'networked books' [will] bring about a revolution in the way that scholars research, write, and communicate their ideas." Palmer fears that technology's ability to transform culture and society is being "oversold" in this case. He feels that the "instantaneous delivery of 'new media' writing is at adds with the solitude, meditation, and patience that are the hallmarks of traditional scholarship." This is particularly so in history, philosophy, and political science, but he says it would be less of a concern in media studies. Palmer doesn't mention science, but it seems logical to assume that scientists would favor the rapid dissemination of information, and that born-digital materials would further this end more effectively than traditional forms of publishing. At the very least, Palmer urges "digital disciples" to "consider the many ways in which a move to all digital content delivery will adversely affect the academy and academic researchers."

1 comment:

Betsy McKenzie said...

Dear Marie,
I just read an old article from the Chronicle of Higher Education's Chronicle Review, Jan. 30, 2004: Sherry Turkle wrote "How Computers Change the Way We Think." She has specific examples from her years of research and teaching at MIT. She also has a book I intend to look at, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, (1984, but re-issued with a new introduction & forward in 2004, by MIT Press).