I was listening to the news on the radio today at work and came across this story:
It would seem that after 244 years of printing their trademark annual Encyclopedia series, that 2010 is the last year there will be a 'hard' printed version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. All the rest from here on out will be in digital form only.
This got me to thinking, is the written word in steady decline with the advent of widespread digital information? The answer I came to the conclusion on my own was an obvious, yes. From books, taxes, bills, magazines, newspapers, and a myriad of other forms of media and information everything that was once written or printed is now (or already has been) converted to digital copies. In other cases, some forms of media are obviously digital only with Encyclopedia Britannica only being the latest one to switch totally to digital information distribution.
Now, this was briefly touched on a few months ago by a similar thread found here:
But thinking in more specific terms, will civilization as a whole benefit from an increasingly digital form of written language? In the future, is a fully digital form of written language a good or bad thing for civilization? It seems increasingly likely that the days of printing and writing are on their steady way out the door and that the written word, as it is, will be the digital text at some point in the (possibly not-so-distant) future. A quote from the above linked article intrigues me; it reads:
After roughly six thousand years of human civilization, this is the first time that writing is on its way to being exclusive, not to hard physical copies, but spaces of - relatively speaking - nothingness in terms of the physical world. While having an all digital world would make information easier to transmit, discover, document, store, and obtain; it would also lack any physical remnants or back-ups. As of right now, there are both digital and physical copies, but if physical forms are becoming archaic, aren't there dangers in having an all digital world that contains the very information of human civilization?“It’s a rite of passage in this new era,” Cauz told The New York Times. “Some people will feel sad about it and nostalgic about it. But we have a better tool now. The Web site is continuously updated, it’s much more expansive and it has multimedia.”
What are your thoughts on the increasing digitalization of, not just media, but all forms of human writing and information? Is the written word, one of the most - if not the most - important aspects of our civilization, on the way out in favor of the digital text?