Of the three chapters assigned for this week, I found the first one to be the most valuable for my research paper. I found myself spending a lot of this reading time nodding in agreement with what Darnton was saying rather than nodding off in exhaustion. Now, I'm not saying that the other readings have bored me to sleep--all I'm saying is that I'm more rested now and I'm more invested in the text. Anyway, here's my analysis...
When strung out in this manner, the pace of change seems breathtaking: from writing to codex, 4,300 years; from the codex to movable type, 1,150 years; from moveable type to the Internet, 524 years; from the Internet to search engines, 17 years; from search engines to Google's algorithmic relevance ranking, 7 years; and who knows what is just around the corner or coming out the pipeline?
He's absolutely right. I think it's just amazing to look back and see just how far we've come in the past decade, let alone in the past few thousand years. Like Dr. Jerz always says, everything's really coming together for us, since we're nearing the end of the semester. I think we all have a greater appreciation for the digital aspect of writing now that we've experienced all of the other fields as well.
Darnton also mentions that blogs now create news rather than just report on it. This is a pretty important thing to keep in mind, because it fits in with the argument that blogs allow "anyone to become a journalist."
As a spoof, a satirical newspaper, The Onion, put it out that an architect had created a new kind of building in Washington, D.C., one with a convertible dome. On sunny days, you push a button, the dome rolls back, and it ooks like a football stadium. On rainy days it looks like Congress. The story traveled from Web site to Web site until it arrived in China, where it was printed in the Beijing Evening News.
I found myself laughing quietly as I read this part of chapter 4. Darnton's right when he argues that the internet is both a place to spread information and a place to spread lies and spoofs. These days, I feel like nothing I see is true. I love when I get those emails with the "fantastic" nature images, because I can't help but wonder how much photoshopping was done to the image. Furthermore, anytime I recieve one of those chain-emails with a seemingly unrealistic story, I check it out on snopes.com, because you never can be too careful in the age of technology, can you?
Having learned to write news, I now distrust newspapers as a source of information, and I am often surprised by historians who take them as primary sources for knowing what really happened. I think newspapers should be read for information about how contemporaries construed events, rather than for reliable knowledge of events themselves.
Darnton's comment here makes me think back to last semester in News Writing when Dr. Jerz assigned the class to watch the evening news. Before this assignment, I'd already had a great dislike and distrust of broadcast journalism, but this viewing only heightened my opinion, because I found their "news" to be dismal and more about advertising than anything else. I can see how Darnton might argue that newspapers are not reliable as one would hope, but I still have to politely disagree with him. A trained journalist should know to write a news article with an objective voice. Obviously he or she cannot hope to get every fact and detail exactly perfect as it happened, but Darnton should really give print journalists a little more credit, because they're stuck with the job of recreating an image with solely words and a few choice pictures. They don't have the option to broadcast video--until recently. I see great things happening in the future for journalists. We'll be able to include high-def footage of events as they unfold along with our stories. Some people already do this on their blogs with their media-phones. Darnton's aboslutely right--our new technology is revolutionizing the information landscape.
To students in the 1950s, libraries looked like citadels of learning. Knowledge came packaged between hard covers, and a great library seemed to contain all of it. To climb the steps of the New York Public Library, past the stone lions guarding its entrance and into the monumental reading room on the third floor, was to enter a world that included everything known.
That was then, and this is now. Nowadays, students look to online resources as citadels of learning. We prefer the internet, because it's more conveinent and it provides faster feedback. I use EbscoHost and other internet databases more often than I actually visit a library. I'll even admit that if I can get what I need out of a limited preview on Google Books, I'll do that over checking the whole book out in the library. Darnton furthers this thought by describing how modern college campus libraries are changing their atmosphere to adapt to their students needs, and I've got to say, our library's pretty close. We've got plenty of comfy couches and chairs to relax in. I spent many a day my freshman year reading assigned text for various classes in one of the armchairs next to the big windows in Reeves.
So what can we take away from this chapter of Darnton? The information age is growing and changing the way we access and search for data. Darnton's right to wonder about the future of libraries, as he does in chapter 3.