Saturday, October 8, 2011

Digital vs. Print

After reading both Dustin Harris and Hannah Weissman's papers, my opinion concerning printed vs. digital publications has changed slightly in Weissman's favor.  Having originally heard each pamphlet's thesis, I thought to myself, "Well, of course digital publications make more sense. They would be cheaper, more accessible, more convenient, and would waste less paper."  But having heard from either argument, I came away more skeptical of an all-digital world of publications for three reasons:

1. Copyright infringement would become a major problem for writers in a world in which chapters may be copied, pasted, and distributed for free.  This would mean smaller revenue streams and profits for writers, which would significantly decrease the incentive for academics to publish their work and findings, seeing little profit and fearing that their work may become attributed to someone else. 

2. As Weissman points out, readers have been shown absorb and retain greater amounts of information from printed than from that on a computer screen due to the amount of different stimuli visible on a computer.  Reading exclusively from the computer would therefore impair young mind's reading comprehension, not to mention hurt everyone's eyes.

3.  Going entirely digital assumes that everyone not only in the United States but also the rest of the world has access to a computer, which is simply untrue.  If information sources usually available in print became available only through a computer, many poorer people around the world, including Americans, would have little to no access to this information.  The poor's access to information is critical to sustaining any democratic society or form of upward economic mobility, and therefore this issue proved my biggest concern.

Because of this, whereas before I took Harris's side in this argument, I have now taken a middle-ground between to two writers, believing that access to inormation digitally should be greatly expanded and emphasize, but that books should by no means abandoned, with access to published works available in bookstores in an equal if not greater amount than online.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with you and take the side of Print. Here is why: Dustin's argument largely centers on the environmental advantages of digital publications. But are we so certain digital readers are great for the environment? Books are at the very least biodegradable, and composed of a renewable resource. With the constant tech upgrades which rule the present age, and likely will continue into the future what is going to happen to all the outmoded kindles, Ipads and android tablets? Although the Ipad may be marketed as recyclable in practice they will go straight to landfill I should think. And what of the rare earth metals needed to manufacture smart electronics? There is not an inexhaustible supply of these materials. It is possible print is greener than we've been told.