Saturday, September 23, 2006

too much information!!

So, several things came up in the readings for this week that have served to scare the bajesus (sp?) out of me! Clio seems to have a knack for doing just that. Anyway, I do not have time to go into all of them, but I will address a few.

In the first of Turkel's two Blog posts, ( we read, he intros with this somewhat unrelated topic of Big History. I guess he is trying to make a parallel to the "opening up" of history via digital libraries and such, but the connection is very tenuous. And besides that, I have some severe reservations about Big History in general. I would probably very much agree with Publishers Weekly's review of the David Christian book that Turkel references, that his incorporation of cosmology, astrophysics, etc. was unsucessful and the work was, in general, "superficial." It seems to me any attempt to include ALL of history into one work (or heck, 100) would end up superficial at best and hollow and scholarly inept at worst. Must we infringe upon other disciplines? Can we not leave cosmology to the cosmologists?? Sorry for the rant...

Back to the readings themselves, one of Turkel's points about the transformation brought on by digital history (similar to the one brought on by the advent of the printing press) is scary, in that Matrix-sort of way! He says first (and agreeable by me) that we will gain access to all of the world's greatest libraries (very exciting!) and it will greatly democratize knowledge production (which could bring a learning-curve, but in the end will be beneficial). Then, he says it will force us to think of machines as part of our audience. Now, I think he is referring to making it search-friendly and able to be grouped together by machines for our benefit, but the visual is terrifying! Can you imagine computers sitting together critiquing our books that we toiled over for years? Aaaaaaa!!!!

In the end, it seems to me all of our authors are saying we are at this tipping point (or maybe we already reached it, I'm not sure). While several make these caveats that there will still be a place for paper books and non-digital searches (see tip #30 on Mamamussings Blog and the end of the above Turkel's Blog), the implications are hard to ignore. Are we really on course for a paper-less society? And if so (which sounds good to me as an environmentalist), what happens to all these digital records if something crazy happens? (here I am thinking of some kind of Pulse-bomb a la Dark Angel, and BAM, everything is gone!!). Maybe I am just being paranoid...or am I???


At 25 September, 2006 14:59, Blogger Dieter Stenger said...


I think you hit the nail on the head as it relates to the amount of data out there. Unless you can manipulate the software, I am not sure anyone will be able to access it. I tried CSS over the weekend and am lost. Now I have to work that much harder to first understand how to make a CSS. I don't even want to think about API!


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