As I was saying, thinking about materials for a reader I went online. Who needs a reader, a hard copy one, I mean. I didn’t have even to go that far into the mess to be overwhelmed by mass of materials out there on every subject known to humanity.
And Wikipedia is turning into a really useful instrument, especially if you are looking for info on current stuff. They have decent references on the diverse subjects they treat and unlike your regular encyclopedia, mostly because their space is unlimited, there’s no filtering device, i.e. a certain limited number of pages.
I wonder if one might construct sort of a knowledge ratio to the effect: limited amounts of documentation, limited space, high or low, produces a greater or less constricted knowledge hierarchy. In the old encyclopedia Britannica for example one might possibly have found an entry on Andy Capp and his creation, Little Abner, but I don’t think one would have found much more than that Capp drew a comic strip called, Little Abner, that appear in such and such number of newspapers. Certainly not, as one may find in Wikipedia, a list of every damn character that ever appeared in the strip along with a short “biography” of each.
I wonder if some sort of knowledge flow chart or graph could be constructed: data base plus space plus labor. The greater the factor under each of these items the more the knowledge curve or knowledge hierarchy would tend to flatten towards infinity, while the less under each category the more the chart would approach a perfect pyramid. The very peak of the pyramid would consist of the longest of all documents, as the determinative of their importance, with as one went down more and more documents with less and less space devoted to each.
In any case, on the web, there’s plenty enough to go around. Within minutes, I had located articles, magazine and journal, as well as video on the “topics” I was trying to look into. This is the “death” of the reader. Already, one can think of the reader as a portal to web based research, reading and viewing. Eventually the portal will disappear into the very thing it is opening up.
The web not the book is, without a doubt, the future of reading and writing, barring of course some natural or unnatural disaster that sends this whole electrical thing into the void. But barring that, the teaching of writing has to become more and more rooted in that digital universe. The web of course can not teach people how to read and write, but the fact of it will alter individual’s relation to both and the purposes of each.
One of my lit. teachers back in the 60’s let us write extra credit papers on the Death of the Novel. I forget what I concluded. But clearly THE NOVEL is dead; or rather the novel has found itself a niche market. The Book too will die, if it is not already dead, that thing I grew up holding in my hands, the pages of which I turned, slowly or quickly, whatever you did the pages had to be turned—The BOOK will find its niche, but it won’t be where the big bucks are.
Information, not contemplation, is the name of the game these days.