I noticed that my last string of posts revolve around video games, which would be a fairly one-dimensional account of all the media I love. I was thus pleased to see an article on the CBC about Alberto Manguel’s books A History of Reading and The Library at Night. Manguel uses the library to discuss the human urge to find meaning in chaos. He also admits to his ambivalence to the Internet, comparing it to a snack rather than the square meal that is the library, and notes that the Net doesn't encourage the type of musing that library reading does.
In my opinion, comparing the Internet and the library can only result in bellicose, circular contention. Thinking of them as companions in a modern academic environment is much more fruitful. Manguel notes that electronic databases can help readers gain access to esoteric or other kinds of works that are difficult to obtain. Not only that, in the process of my own research, I found that the Internet and Concordia's databases of journal articles allowed me to think and brainstorm through research.
In a way I am starting to personally believe Vannevar Bush's premise in "As We May Think". Written in 1945, Bush's article described the concept of the memex (short for memory extender) as an electronic link to a library that allows the reader to easily link and cross-reference associations made by texts. For example, in this blog, this article would have automatically displaying the CBC article, books review and perhaps a bio of Manguel, Concordia's library page, and the Atlantic Monthly archive with Bush's article and some criticism.
A regular library simply cannot do this, not without a few dozen library minions running around for you. But the memex or the modern equivalent shouldn't replace this bastion of peace and quiet, coffee-scented pages and microfilm machines. Instead, it can oriente and organize your library experience, leaving you more energy for your reading and taking some of the hassle out of your research.
I know some of my readers are neo-Luddites and avid bookophiles. What's your stance? Alternately, some of you people scream at the sight of a book. Do you love Wikipedia?