In the 21st-Century University, Let’s Ban (Paper) Books
Banning paper books is all well and good in theory, and many supporters of this have valid points (real books are bulky, there is no ability to share margin notes with a wide group of people instantly, and the connections that are possible between ebooks and other media forms, etc.). But I don’t know if anyone else experienced the JSTOR server crash last week – it caused a minor panic here at the post-secondary institution where I work. Within a few minutes of the crash, we were receiving concerned calls and emails from patrons. And if solar flares are as much of a concern as some are making them out to be, then the first flare will fry your ereader, cause massive power outages, and I imagine there is also a chance it could destroy the servers hosting the websites that allow access to ebooks. A nuclear war situation (which is entirely possible, as most of the major countries have the bombs on standby) would cause even more widespread power problems, and how will we learn to live in our new world without paper books to guide us through the knowledge of 19th century farmers and townsfolk? All these electronic gadgets are fantastic, until we realize exactly how fragile they are – a power outage has the potential to shut down an entire city, and what will you do to amuse yourself without an ereader, smartphone, computer or gaming system? But, fancy that, paper books can be easily read by the light of the sun, or a candle. I’m keeping my paper books, and I hope that educational institutions have the forethought and insight to do the same.
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