The Digital Shift: Allowing People to Continue the Legacy…

After going to the “From Print to Pixels” event at the Ashland Public Library, I’m convinced of one thing: e-books are just allowing us to continue the legacy of paranoia. The speaker pointed out that people have been saying the same things about every new technology since before the printing press. He even cited Socrates in a discussion of how the alphabet and writing in general weren’t always widely accepted concepts when people started shifting from spoken to written traditions.

As the youngest person in the room, I enjoyed hearing everyone around me talk about the digital shift since I typically only hear from people my own age. Most of them had some level of concern over how the digital shift in the publication world would affect the reading experience. I, however, seemed to be the only one who didn’t own an e-reader. For fearing a future with technology, they’ve certainly embraced it on various levels.  None of them said they exclusively read on their readers (except one who had to due to sight issues) but they’re still supporting the shift by using them.

That’s not to say I’m against people accepting what seems inevitable at this point. It’s just interesting to hear people speak against the digital age when they’ve embraced it, to whatever extent.

On a slightly different note, one person mentioned that, through the technologies available, he’s been able to make friends around the world. Many people discover this opportunity, though not necessarily thanks to reading alone. With the countless forums and sites for all interests (books included), the world has shrunk thanks to the internet, reminding me of a quote by Marshall McLuhan cited early in the presentation: “Print technology created the public.” While print technology may have created the public, but the digital shift has expanded it beyond city limits–for good or bad, I’m still not 100% sure.

About Ed Battistella

Edwin Battistella’s latest book Dangerous Crooked Scoundrels was released by Oxford University Press in March of 2020.
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