Well first off, FYI - dude's name was Gutenberg, not Goot..
Second, the short answer to the question posed by your title - No, this does not herald the end of the printed word anymore than the pen heralded the
end of the pencil.
There are a number of logical reasons to preserve the written word, and a couple more ephemeral ones that are, nonetheless, factors which must be
One concrete reason to preserve hard copies is that data corruption is a fact of life, as anyone who works with computers knows all too well. If
there's software out there that doesn't glitch/crash/bug out, I'd like to know about it. With the printed word that isn't necessarily an issue
(depending on the medium, 'ink' and 'language' - wood pulp vs. cotton rag vs. vinyl vs. solid gold, etc., ink vs. oil paint vs. acid etching, and
Forgetting software, the hardware is touch-and-go as well. Once a book is printed, it takes a lot more than a momentary fluctuation in current or
temperature or humidity to change what's on the page. Most modern, so-called permanent electronic data storage devices are anything but - they wear
out a lot faster than books as a matter of fact, require more upkeep, and are generally harder to maintain in good, working condition.
I'm no luddite, and I think it makes perfect sense to maintain and disseminate digital copies of important writings, to both increase availability
and preserve integrity - it can be a lot easier than maintaining thousands of physical copies in storage, a lot cheaper, and they can be shared/moved
with greater ease.
I realize survival isn't the thrust of this thread, but I thought it a worthwhile tangent. If/when the lights go out and people are forced to turn
back the lifestyle clock to several hundred years ago, a single book on blanket weaving or dye preparation or home construction or hunting or
skinning/tanning or philosophy or battle tactics will be worth more than thousands of multi-terabyte hard drives full of data on every subject
CDs/DVDs/CD-R(W)s are not a viable method of storage - the discs decay (how fast is up for debate, I've read statements of experts in the field
stating as little as two years from date of manufacture, while the manufacturers claim 100 years of viability). The answer is probably somewhere in
between - and that's in storage, forget about regular use (the average life of a CD/DVD is about 3.5 years
) So that leaves you one (1) longterm
option, multiple, redundant 'live' (powered/maintained) storage networks, a series of hard drives left plugged in, basically.
Finally, with the standard written word, one can at least hope that later civilizations will have the ability to translate the data from stone or gold
(or vinyl), and garner some wisdom out of your effort. What are future archeologists going to do with a dusty old removable drive, or a RAID bank
that hasn't had juice in several hundred (or several thousand) years?
Those are just a couple of the practical reasons why we shouldn't do away with books in our mad scramble towards the future. I'm not saying we
shouldn't take advantage of new technologies, but we shouldn't overestimate them, or underestimate tried and true methods (like books).
Anyway, practical concerns aside, there are plenty of bibliophiles still left roaming the earth (I should know, I am one).
I love books. I live in a veritable library because I want to be surrounded by them. I grew up with them, I live with them and, God willing, I'll
die with them. They mean more to me than computers ever could, and to a great extent, they mean more to me than the information they convey.
I read constantly, books and internet both, and while I prefer the speed and accessibility of the internet for day-to-day reference and catching up on
current events, things like that, reading on a computer screen can't compare to the feeling of a book in many instances.
So, there are a multitude of reasons, tangible and intangible, why books are here to stay, IMO.
[edit on 21-1-2007 by WyrdeOne]