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Putting It all Together

Sorry for the late post, I’m a crappy blogger but a good son to my mom : )

In Jerome McGann’s article he discusses the inevitable future of compiling data and scholarship online. As I read this article I thought about several different points that were made. The first is that he describes this future as “sobering.” My initial reaction to this was that yes it is a bit daunting to consider that it may not be much longer before paper and other forms of tangible records and media are digitized and then only created in digital form but at the same time it isn’t. It almost seems a bit naive to think that the future is not upon us, its not rapidly approaching and more and more the digital world becomes the worlds ultimate tool. I’m old fashioned and while I love technology and enjoy reading and writing on a computer, iPad, etc, I also LOVE  the feel of a book. So I get it but I don’t know if sobering would be a word I would use, it shouldn’t be a surprise at this point.

The other point that stood out was the concept of influence in an undertaking such as this. The NDPL says that its for our “cultural commonwealth” butWith so many “cooks in the kitchen” it is not far fetched to believe or expect varying communities to want to exploit a compendium such as this for their own reasons. Of course we (America) won’t have to worry about something like that, because while I love America I do have my issues with out zeal to constantly establish ourselves as the authority on everything known to man. Will we have the most influence? Absolutely. Will we make it appear as if it is a worldwide effort? Of course, who are better diplomats than us? I suppose the conclusion I am drawing here is that I believe that such a tool is a necessary evil. I say evil because with all its good will come bad, what scholars will include what? What will be excluded? Once this is achieved what purpose does print versions of ANY of the documents included serve? Is a classic a classic anymore once its digitized? I think not.

I suppose my only other concern is accessibility. will this be a “go-to” site like wikipedia or will it be a thoroughly deep and expansive research engine like ebsco and the Academic Search Primer? The truth is that the reason we all love and flock to wikipepdia is because its fast, simple, easy and we like the way the information is presented to us. Other sources provide obviously more detailed and more accurate, albeit very specific and obscure information but its not laid out in such away that I can just consume what I please and move on. Nevertheless If such a database is at the worlds fingertips and is easily accessible then all of my gripes are outweighed by the simple fact that more people will be able to learn more faster and easily. I am at this point being a bit lofty in my presumptions but nevertheless these are the questions that run through my head when I see such a project in the works.

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