March 3, 2011
Of course, the original written scriptures were not even books, but handwritten scrolls. Not books and chapters and verses in order, but a basket of loose writings in columns. I could imagine a nostalgic ancient blogger lamenting the loss of smooth lambskin parchments, scribal handwriting skills, and the serendipitous providence of reading something beautiful after grabbing the wrong scroll or rolling to the wrong column.And now, my most productive method of Bible study is certainly in e-Bibles, where cross-references and insights give instant contexts for understanding. Every technology has side-effects, good or ill. May the Story of God and His People always be told in every technology we can find.
I don't think tangible books will ever go completely out of style. While I've seen a rise of Kindles, I have also seen a rise in people reading books (although no stats or data can back this 'hunch' up).Predicting the end of something usually proves wrong, as we can see with the thousands of sci-fi movies and crazy preachers who thought we'd have blasted ourselves out of existence by now.
Recently Eerdmans Publishers had on their FB wall a youtube film, "How to Open a Book" (aka "Learn the Book" by another poster), describing a similar scenario: the medieval scholar moving from parchment scroll to book, complete with medieval IT-guy taking him through the book, step-by-step . . . . fun stuff.What I worry about with E-books and electronic media are the continual updates in tech, therefore making the previous mode not only obsolete but inaccessible---witness platters and reel-to-reel and 8-track and cassettes in the music industry; the devices themselves wear out; the tech to play them becomes a throw-away or a rare antique. All those CD's I have collected---yet the move now is to iTunes, downloads etc---and files get corrupted; how long a virtual shelf-life does electronic info have?I know that books also corrupt and crumble---but I look in my collection and I have more than a few that are close to a century old, many that are my contemporaries in age and yet perhaps in better shape. My oldest is an early 1700's slim volume by a minor Brit poet---cover and pages in better shape than many of my 20th century books. I absolutely agree that tech has astounding possibilities---a friend said she was able to take "a whole library" on vacation, all contained in her Kindle; back-lit devices eliminate awkward nightlights for late reading, etc, just to name a few basic advantages. One problem of concern-- will E-libraries with all their infinite storage capacity yet limit availability through their technology? Will libraries "purge" out-of-print or rare books without replacing them (or will the Gutenburg Project handle this mission)? I'm not nostalgic for typewriters or telephones, but somehow I just can't see books in the same category as mere communication tools!
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