Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 855.  Sunday, 28 November 1993.
From:           James McKenna <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Saturday, 27 Nov 1993 18:33:17 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 4.0848  Re: Electronic Scholarship
Comment:        Re: SHK 4.0848  Re: Electronic Scholarship
Reply to Timothy Bowden:
I see that I must speak by the card lest equivocation undo me.
I had assumed that research, and not simple reading, was the topic.  But still
I maintain my point.  The ability to put one's finger, or pointer, on a fact
assumes two things: 1) that one understands what one is searching for, and 2)
that the source in which one is searching is reliable.  Electrotextual research
encourages us to ignore these assumptions because any search at all yields so
much detailed information that the assumptions appear to have been correct. The
database blandly spits forth data in proper, credible form.  Who cares whether
it's apropos to anything?  It hangs together; it's scholarship.
Mr. Bowden cavils with my points about weight and tangibility.  I am not
unaware of the actual existence of data-processing and -storage devices.  I own
a few myself.  You might notice that I am replying via the very same medium you
use.  My point, in a nutshell, is that books are on our scale in both speed and
size.  They present information as quickly as we turn the pages; they are
identical with the notebooks we carry around and write in (those of us who
still do that).  We can quibble about the intellectual content of a dead thing,
but my point remains that books are records that we pass around and share and
that bring us together, while electrotexts disperse us to sit alone listening
to the whine of our computer fans.
As to patience and waiting: there is a time for haste and results.  It is not
always.  A very good piece of advice I got was to allow time to sit in the
stacks and browse.  Read the marginalia, the inscriptions; muse on the hands
that held the book before my own.  Pull them off at whim and just _be_ in the
library (or the resale bookshop).  A certain roundedness comes from browsing in
the stacks, an evanescent awareness of one's crawly little place in things.
Finally, as to changing times, there is no doubt.  But are you, my friend, so
sure of your weathercock that you will throw in lock, stock, and barrel with
the flashy new ways?  Belt _and_ suspenders, I say.
By the by, where can I get 1-meg, 70-nanosecond simms for cheap?
James McKenna
University of Cincinnati

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