Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hitler Loves Cushing and E-Books

More about Cushing! I previously mentioned it in my first real post in September.

Sounds like things went pretty much how I thought they would, except the thing where people compare the headmaster James Tracy to Hitler. I really should have seen that coming, though. Has fifteen years on the internet taught me nothing? People love bringing Hitler into any argument. Any argument. Back in 1990, a guy named Mike Godwin said, "As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." Voila, Godwin's Law.

Here is an example from the article, taken from a blog at*:

"Save the books, fire the instigator of the book-burning. Let Hitler stay dead."

Contrary to the impression given back in September ("When I look at books, I see an outdated technology, like scrolls before books"), James Tracy now says:

"If I look out the window and I see a student reading Chaucer, to me it's utterly immaterial whether it's a paperback or a Kindle. I'm just glad that they're reading Chaucer."

Scrolls are okay! Just not for research, which he says was what he was talking about. As for reducing his library staff, apparently that's not true:

Actually, he says, he has hired more librarians to help students navigate the electronic stacks and tell "what is valuable information or reliable from what is junk."

Not all the students love it. There's a comment by one student about giving people coffee in a library, and another about how annoying using an e-book version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was to take notes on.

While Kindles themselves are expensive, the books are less so:

Corbett [Tom Corbett, Cushing's director of Media and Academic Technology] says he can purchase many e-titles much more cheaply than traditional books. Often he pays just $5 apiece, so for the price of a $30 hardback, he now orders six e-books.

That's a pretty good deal.

More Hitler comparisons, from Paul Biba at TeleRead, who got it from someone named Danny Bloom: Amazing Luddite protest against ebooks. I saw this a while ago but was too astounded to comment or quote. If it's okay for Paul Biba, it's okay for me. Here is the Hitler reference in an essay, Protecting the Printed Word, by author by Alan Kaufman:

Which teen or twenty something in their right mind is going to opt for paper over electronic texts? No one of course. That's just the way of evolution, goes the narrative. Publishers and readers, writers and agents, are well-advised to get with this truth or perish. As to the bookstore, it is like the synagogue under Hitler: the house of a doomed religion. And the paper book is its Torah and gravestone: a thing to burn, or use to pave the road to internet heaven.

Surely book concentration camps are just around the corner. Sure, guy.

* No link for you. Look it up on your own!


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