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Nightmare anthology

I noticed a remark by John Updike in the same article:

"John Updike...complained that book digitization is destroying reading, by turning long reading sessions into searches for snippets."

This reminded me of something I sent in long ago to an SF Chronicle columnist, who was discussing the impact of the internet on reading.

I wrote:

"I just had a cosmological insight while sitting at my desk here at Stanford Libraries, thinking about Google, thinking about Podcasts: Yes, everything will become digitalized, all books, all journals, all magazines, all chat, and as a result, we'll all become illiterate. Now, like many cosmological insights, this may be pure bunk. But maybe not. Think about it: Through digitalization, all knowledge, all word stuff, becomes a giant, unlimited anthology, and we can "look up" anything, anytime, instantly. We go through life with an unlimited supply of quotes, but no real reading, no context. Everything will simply reinforce our prejudices and appetites of the moment: what instant gratification is all about.

Literacy is context, a universe of meaning, or rather an ocean of meaning, where you can swim around, learn new ways of thinking, see new dangers, acquire new skills. Hearing Mozart makes us seem better than we are. Reading a great book does the same thing, both subverting and improving us at the same time. A perfectly digitalized universe of meaning?: 'I need, I want! Here it is!' Speed kills, it also breeds illiteracy. Maybe."

Eric

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