Sunday, August 9, 2009

Books as Decaying Media/Medium (As If We Didn't Already Know This)

A great piece in the New York Times, In a Digital Future, Textbooks Are History, details what most outside the humanities already know. That may seem like somewhat of a dig at the humanities (and I do believe that there are multi-medium digital humanists out there) but the last stand for the traditional format logocentrically-bound physical monograph seems to continue to be propagated by those mono-medium old school literature-ish professors often found in humanities departments. Oh, there's often collusion with the management of school bookstores too. At least that's been my experience at North Carolina's flagship institution, as well as at a few other spots along the way. My take is that it's a losing battle and I'd be worried about what relevance I'd have when the last salvos are placed. I guess there is always room to expand the teaching pool in Classics departments. And, important to note, it's not possible for curriculum to stricture students into affinity for traditional textbooks. Pretty soon, the students will choose to boycott such courses and spaces. We already see this in declining statistics for humanities majors and minors. The NY Times piece is a good profile of where students are "at" these days, especially en route to post-secondary education. I've pasted a telling blurb below.

Textbooks have not gone the way of the scroll yet, but many educators say that it will not be long before they are replaced by digital versions — or supplanted altogether by lessons assembled from the wealth of free courseware, educational games, videos and projects on the Web.

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