I understand the romantic notion of clutching a book to breast — some clutch their laptops with the same passion but one can also embrace electronic revisions of writing in the same way. Scholars need to be vigilant in protecting their process of creation and thought and that means saving revisions and first versions so future generations can track the mind process of those who marked paths first. Imagine our scholar’s website that not only catalogues a C.V. and Bibliography, but also every nuance of every correction made in each published article or book.
Publishing on the web generates an enormous wealth of goodwill because our scholar’s verifiable thought patterns become accessible to anyone with the impetus to make the discovery and the thinking process is no longer limited to those who live within human reach of the scholar’s in-class voice. Learning how to use a computer begs the same curve of learning for those who moved from horse to car: Change or get left behind and it is the job of everyone to make sure equal access to information is a right and not a privilege.
Technology encourages revision and rewriting more than ever and the preservation of the process needs to be honored. I’m sure someone can always print out hardcopy of the early revisions of our scholar’s work for those who prefer breast-clutching.
We may be careening into a modified Monitorial system of education where brilliant icons in academe appear live on videotape across national classrooms while gangs of Ph.D. folk roam the rooms to do the follow-up tutoring. A provocative scholar might wonder if there a difference between learning via reading and learning via watching and listening if the information is the same and does not change in universal distribution?
Recorded virtual teaching may be the first uneasy step into a theory of “universal education” because, for the first time, the information will be equalized across cultures and classes and even the illiterate can be included because they can at least watch and listen. Current university pedagogy is live theatre.
Virtual teaching, via CD or DVD or videotape is the movies. Theatre is always changing and is never the same experience twice. Film is, frame by frame, exactly the same each time it is shown. I prefer the theatre, but film is more dependable and more democratic. Technology is always bending time and compressing spaces.
The history of the world has been to get faster, not slower, and those who long for “what used to be” instead of what needs to happen run the great risk of being left behind with black and white television and the telegraph and the card catalogue while the rest of us are doing blazing Lexis-Nexis web searches for meaning in the next online-only Opus.