Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"Toward a New Alexandria"

Take a break, kick back, and read a fascinating article appearing in The New Republic titled "Toward a New Alexandria: Imagining the Future of Libraries," by Lisbet Rausing. The first part gives a mind-bending view of the rapidly expanding universe of information made possible by the digital revolution. But the meat of Rausing's essay is her argument against the restrictions in place for accessing scholarly work. While the argument is familiar - the harm done by such restrictions defeats the creative growth of new knowledge - it benefits from being well written. E.g.:
Excepting the odd Wykehamist or yeshiva boy, our children—always on, multi-tasking, mobile—will not engage with a body of scholarship their elders have incomprehensibly surrounded by barbed wire. But they will remain engaged in learning. The question is not whether there will be future scholars. It is how these future scholars will remember and integrate previous scholarship. And in pondering that, which means pondering our own scholarly legacy, it is worth remembering that “the generational war is the one war whose outcome is certain.”

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