I have issues with textbook-free campuses, and so, it appears, does Jesse Jackson, Jr.
And some of our issues are the same. I too have wondered what happens to all the publishing houses, all the paper producers, the raw-material-providers, all the book binders, all the designers, all the office-workers, all the shipping and trucking jobs that disappear if campuses become “textbook free.”
I am also concerned about what happens to our understanding of the past — or even our present — when there are no solid, three-dimensional books with unchangeable, un-deletable, words inside them to which we can refer for facts, for history, for accurate remembrance.
Textbooks on iPads speak of a terrifying “efficiency” that I am not at all comfortable with. Digital words are so much easier to change — I have images of Winston Smith, rewriting history according to the day’s narratives, only he won’t be getting his orders via pneumatic tubes; he’ll just go to his email and find his “Ministry of Truth” or “MiniTru” assignments for the day — which could change hour-by-hour.
MiniTrue indeed. Can’t wait to see what sort of garbage a “digital textbook” will contain once people start fiddling with content in order to bring it in line with their ideologies. And you know that’s going to happen. It is inevitable.
Those of you who are considering replacing your libraries with ebooks; think again. Your books are yours; you buy them, you own them, and they are the same, yesterday and today. They will not change, and they will not disappear, or suddenly be “pulled” or “unsourced” from you, as ebooks can be. And someday you may NEED them, to show your children and your grandchildren what the realities of life, of war, of social upheaval really were, before the digital age.
There is something about the freedom to own books, and all of the words and ideas they contain, that goes hand-in-hand with what is Eternal and unchanging. New books may be produced with new ideas, but once written, they are part of something larger and connected to our inalienable rights — they can be accepted or rejected, loved or hated, embraced or discarded, but they will not be changed. A world where books become changeable things is a world where objective Truth cannot live; where “truth” becomes a relative, changeable thing and everything comes under the provenance of the air.
And the Prince of the power of the air, of course, loves chaos and sows confusion.
What a thing to think about, as we approach Pentecost Sunday, the day that Jesus breathed on the Apostles, and they received the Holy Spirit, who also moves on the air.
Here, perhaps, is our battlefield, then. The very air and all that moves upon it.
I’m no neo-Luddite; I know technology is a wonderful thing; I know it’s fun to consider that our books now look like Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s. But it’s all-too easy to see that there be monsters in our tumbling acquiescence into the digital page. A book is a stable, non-changeable thing. We need that stability.
There is no stability in an ebook; it can disappear in an instant. It can read differently, tomorrow.
Here’s Jesse Jackson, making his points in the video below, and then Renee Elmers, sent my way by Lorie Byrd.
I can’t take Jackson seriously when he chastises the congress on job-creation. The Democrats held congress from 2006 forward, and created not a single job, and it his his party and his president that have created onerous regulations that make it more difficult and more expensive for small businesses to hire workers.
Large businesses are hamstrung, too. You want to create jobs? How about let’s start drilling for oil in the Gulf, and in Alaska — how about building new refineries, so we can process that oil and stop living at the mercy of OPEC? How about building some nuclear power plants? All job-creators! Where are all those “shovel-read” infrastructural jobs? Why are we giving money to Brazil for oil drilling, or bailing out Greece, when we’re broke?
Jackson is doing the usual partisan-blame-gaming, here — he’s not offering a single job-creating thought, himself — but he’s quite right that iPad campuses will destroy jobs. They’ll destroy more than that. They have the potential to redefine the past and wholly affect the future.