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Home :: Archive :: 1993 :: November ::
Re: Electronic Scholarship
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 848. Saturday, 27 November 1993.
 
From:           Timothy Bowden <
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Date:           Friday, 26 Nov 93 22:29:15 PST
Subject: 4.0843  Re: Electronic Scholarship
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0843  Re: Electronic Scholarship
 
> From:           James McKenna <MCKENNJI@UCBEH>
 
> In reply to Timothy Bowden's suggestion that reading bound books is
> analogous to trudging uphill in the snow eight miles -
 
No, no.  Not the reading of the text, but the secondary search, the
wonder at where `incest' appears elsewhere and under what context and
how it is used.  Ain't nobody excpected to leave the hearth to find the
scripture proper, my man...
 
> Books, like us, are partly tangible, real objects.  There is virtue in not
> straying too far from that peculiar balance of material and ephemeral.
 
Somewhere, before they fly over the wires at the speed of light, the
lines on your screen are stored as millions of simple answers to basic
questions, yes or no, on or off, .5 + or -.
 
> Electrotexts are virtually infinite, instantaneous.  They accelerate
> the movement of information, but at the same time debase that
> information by making it totally ephemeral, immaterial, as it were.
 
My CD-ROM has weight, though less, and occupies space, though least of
all the storage devices, such as inky papyrus.  Any object, sexual or
otherwise, is never degraded when diminished.  See Jenny Craig.
 
It is here wise to point out the justified prejudice against those who
figure books as tangible textual objects.  They carry volumes in their
hands, always with their fingers marking the place to radiate close
study, and less and least in their heads.  A physical presence may well
diminish spiritual attainments (attempted meditation while suffering the
heartbreak of `fisherman's seat'), but in no instance might the souls
of objects be measured by the pound.
 
>   While searching for something in a book, I must wait a lot.  I can't
> find things immediately.  Often I have to go find another book.  While
> searching, I find other things, I am open to a world that I had not
> counted on.  And I must wait, and in waiting learn patience.
 
This method my high school English teacher referred to as `dalliance'.
Though I described it in just your terms, she marked out her own
patience (and my lesser results) in six-week periods.
 
And the times they are a'changin'...
 
I see a term on a screen.  Click.  I mark before my eyes moving like the
dead trees of yore a wealth of material others have noted on just that
idea.  I can at a sitting avail myself of the swarm of western thought
on the subject, then move east, if I dare. I can construct a platform of
the sturdy hides of all the world's best minds who have traced their
passages before me.
 
Then I can dream.  Then I can write.  Then I can exercise all the
world's proud patience.
 
Timothy Bowden
 

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