My old friend Patrick Tanguay asked me to write something for E-180 Mag (by the people behind the new education platform, E-180). I wrote about why books, and textbooks will always matter, even if the interface to books and textbooks might change. The core of the argument is:
Books, and textbooks are still at the core of our intellectual lives. Textbooks are the documentation of human knowledge, an encoded record of ‘all the things we believe someone should learn about a topic.’ They are in some sense the operating system for society, and even if we start to build better and more effective mechanisms to transmit the contents of books and textbooks, we still need, and always will need, a written record of “that which should be known.”
You can read more here.
I’ve got a new(ish) article up on Medium. Which I guess I should eventually add here. But in the mean time, here’s the beginning of “What books can learn from the Web / What the Web can learn from books“:
In university I studied Philosophy, and Engineering, in a program called Applied Mathematics. I loved studying philosophy; engineering less so. I found the engineering courses, mostly, dry, and I had trouble getting my term work done.
When the end of term came along, I generally had something like three engineering courses, and two math courses to learn in their entirety, as well as two or three big philosophy papers to write, coupled with the readings I needed to do to feed into those papers.
I usually had to ace my engineering finals (to overcome those mid-term bumps), and writing philosophy papers, no matter when it happened, always took soul-wrenching commitment.
The end of my academic term was an intense time. Intense and pleasurable too, a time when my mind was entirely focused on learning, to the exclusion of just about everything else.
And the conclusion is something along the lines of:
Books can learn from the web that huge value — for readers, for learning, for knowledge, for society — can be unlocked when we allow networked digital content to be itself, to do what it does well — to be liquid, moveable and multidimensional, to be reproducible, sharable, findable, and linkable. And most importantly, to be built upon.
You can find more here.