Ding-dong. Your friendly neighbourhood Britannica calling. Okay, not really. How about an annoying, pushy, slimeball dripping with condescension? Perhaps with a possessed hairpiece that doesn’t quite match the greying fringe.
Hard to believe that just over a decade ago, Wikipedia didn’t exist for all your late night quandaries over the origins of velcro or what year News of the World hit turntables. Back when Marty McFly wreaked havoc on the timeline, grade school children that researched the culture of Indonesia or the irrigation of ancient Egypt wiped off thick layers of dust and cracked open musty Encyclopedias to hunt down information. Most sets housed in libraries serviced entire schools and communities.
Like Penn knocking on apartment 19, those who could afford the luxury of even a single volume – Joey and the letter V – fell prey to that sleazy salesmen that solicited door to door promising a wealth of knowledge for their children with the purchase of the latest set, fresh off the presses. But therein lies the rub. The information held within a set became historical before the ink dried. While ancient information etched in stone may still carry relevance, in our modern age, scanning & digitization technology has accelerated the dissemination of information. News of the godly Higgs Boson circled the globe in a matter of minutes.
Learning and communication stand at a crucial junction. Elementary schools provide their young students with tablets and iPads, and handwriting and long form mathematics are being phased out. Mega media conglomerates have taken a running leap with the supposed benefits to educational advancements through technology. Internet providers now boast their superior service directly correlates with a child’s ability to learn. With their superior high speed internet, children may now gather infinite amounts of knowledge faster to further their education and achieve higher grades. Absolute tripe, or is it?
To a certain degree, online sources provide limitless resources to an university student gathering information for a 30 page paper on the relation of Canterbury Tales to the Bible when specific volumes of scholarly journals required for citation rest in a library thousands of kilometers away. A few clicks of a mouse, and tada. The digitization of information has nearly rendered card and library catalogues obsolete.
That the integration of technology in daily activities will only grow, and the convenience of the circulation of information — whether for school, work, or pleasure — is inarguable. Digitization of documentation provides universal accessibility far superior to the costly storage of hundreds of boxes full of materials that degrade over time. A few strokes of a key and the information for that client meeting in half an hour is in front of you, no swimming through mountains of files or Harold crying in a corner after being Litt Up.