When my dad offered to buy me a Kindle a few years ago, he was surprised when I refused to give up my collection of print books for a more convenient option. I explained to him that while I could sit in front of a book for hours, I am rarely able to watch through an entire five minute Youtube video. Technology distracts me because of the constant flow of information and content.
There are now more content creators than ever because of the facility to publish work online. However, when doing research, how are we able to distinguish between true and false information? In the article “Promises and Perils of Digital History,” Cohen and Rosenzweig ask: “Could we stop a thousand historical flowers—amateur, professional, commercial, crackpot—from blooming on the web? Would we want to?” While I encourage people to use the internet as a source for self expression, I do worry about obtaining false knowledge. Many professors refuse to allow their students to use Wikipedia as a source because anyone can go in and edit the information.
As an English and Writing major, I have hopes to be published one day, and have my work be displayed next to authors that I admire. It now seems like anyone can publish anything online. Having a book published is not so rewarding anymore. My friend self-published his own book when we were still in high school. Although it was a great accomplishment, I can guarantee that his public Facebook posts received more views in comparison to the number of books that were purchased.
However, there are a lot of positive attributes in obtaining scholarly and educated resources online. Anyone can access them, so if a child is being homeschooled, or if a student decides to take a year off, they can still learn alongside everyone else, without physically being in the classroom.
My parents constantly remind me how lucky I am to have technology as a tool for school, as when they were my age, they had no choice but to go to a library, and search through thousands of books. With the internet, it is so easy to type in a keyword, and find what you’re looking for. In the eleventh grade, we were told to do a research project on a philosopher. I was given the philosopher Samuel Scheffler, and as he was currently a professor at NYU, and his information was public, I was able to contact him directly. It was surreal to me that I was able to communicate with a philosopher as a way of research for my project. Without the access to distribute information publicly, opportunities like that would be impossible.
I was shocked to discover that four out of my five classes this semester didn’t require me to buy any textbooks: all of the readings were to be found online. I was thrilled with the news: I would save hundreds of dollars, and I would carry less to class. But while there are clear advantages to the public humanities, I still prefer to read my books in print.