Leaving the Books on the Shelf

It is hard to remember the delighting smell of the pages of a worn book. The aroma of literature is fading alongside the capacity for more than ten minutes are dive into the adventures of classic heroes. Perhaps in the near future, we will have forgotten how to comprehend large works, and only summaries will satisfy our literary needs. The age of “summer reading lists” is ending rapidly. By writing this blog post, I feel I am only continuing to promote the downfall of books and the knowledge in each page.

“We are turning into ‘pancake-people’– spread wide and thin as we connect with that vast network of information accessed by the mere touch of a button.” — Richard Foreman

Google is a blessing and a curse. In a 2008 article in The Atlantic, Nicholas Carr asks the questions, “Is Google Making Us Stupid? What is the Internet doing to our brains?” The vast network of information readily accessibly through the myriad of hyperlinks and clicks is astounding. We can easily type our thoughts into a search bar and receive so many links, we will never have the time or want to put in the effort of clicking all of them. We don’t need to. Google has connected itself to our brains in a way we do not even realize. By tracing and monitoring our online habits, the online giant bends, folds, and molds for our personal use. I find that to be unbelievable…and frightening.

We have become people of convenience and driven by an “I-want-it-now” attitude. Everything in the world is shifting to digital media. I’m surprised someone hasn’t invented a way for humans to jump into screens. [Then again, the Oculus Rift comes pretty close.] The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal were once driven by print sales. Now, it’s all about number of clicks and page views. The news is truncated for the convenience of hurried-readers who seek a simple summary of what is happening in the world. I often scroll through Twitter and Facebook seeing links to summaries of the day’s news from major news sources. This is the driving force behind rising media sources that provide glimpses into whatis happening on a daily basis. The Skimm, for example, prides itself in being an online source where others read the news for you, providing brief insight on top news and trending stories.

“theSkimm makes it easier to be smarter. We’re the daily e-mail newsletter that gives you everything you need to start your day. We do the reading for you – across subject lines and party lines – and break it down with fresh editorial content.

We read. You Skimm.”

Have we really lost so much of ourselves and our education that we have allowed only a select few to use their brains to read and comprehend our news? Perhaps this all started when, in our early years of education, we sought summaries of our classroom readings on sites such as Cliff Notes. We’ve come to disregard the importance of books and physical pages. We have become as spineless as e-books. We, as so-called “readers” have allowed Electracy become the new norm of the literate world. Without the aesthetics and briefness of an article, reading becomes unappealing and “too much effort.” Gregory Ulmer insists that we take for granted the skill sets readily available for literate people to use and grow from.

“‘Electracy’ is to digital media what literacy is to alphabetic writing: an apparatus, or social machine, partly technological, partly institutional.” — Gregory Ulmer


Ulmer presents a call to action for us to fully delve into and exhaust all uses of the digital web through all forms of media available. Arguably, this is seen as the prime way to utilize and learn from its complexity and satisfy one’s quest for information and knowledge. So, instead of melting our brains on the Internet, we must utilize it to learn and grow. Electracy holds an aesthetic appeal that mold itself to the new innovative media in our growing digital world. Ulmer wants us to take hold of this opportunity. I believe most of us have not yet learned how to fully use the means we have been given.

We are losing our ability to learn, memorize, and comprehend the words we reading. We are losing our old skills and replacing them with digital skills. Essentially, we are become the artificial intelligence in human form. Many fear the robots seen on film screens will rule the world in the future. If we look in the mirror, will we not see our own eyes reflecting the squares of computer screens? The natural lights in our eyes will be generated by the latest LED technology. The most disheartening problem will be…what to do with all of the books left on the shelves.


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