I love books, always have done (as long as I can remember) and hopefully always will do. What’s more publishers and bookcase makers should love me as I like to buy my own and generally like to keep them. That said in the past few weeks I have had a revelation. The fact that I have too many isn’t the revelation, the revelation was actually that I have 3 types of books:
- Books I have read and will never read again
- Books I have read and would consider reading again
- Books I have kept because they contain information I wanted access to
With a new objective to reduce the number of books I have in my home 1 and 2 are easy – give category 1 to a charity shop and find more efficient ways to store category 2. In reviewing the entries in category 3 I had a sub-revelation that actually most of these are now redundant as the information they contain is out to date versus that available online. Which got me to thinking….
When I was kid calculators were becoming cheap and widely available, so we all nagged our Mums into getting us one and a generation of people were amused by typing 55378008 into a small machine. In thinking back I remember arguments about why would you need to learn mental arithmetic when you could work it out on a calculator but now with hindsight it’s abundantly clear that a) mental arithmetic is far more valuable than just “doing Maths” and that b) my Dad is better than most card games than me due to his superior mental arithmetic.
Likewise when I was a kid if you wanted to access knowledge you needed either something or someone who gave you access whether that be parents (or other such grownups), a friend with the Encyclopaedia Britannica or for that tough to reach stuff a trip to the local reference library. Therefore, when you got some knowledge you tried (or at least I did) to retain it, whether that be in your head or in a book for future use.
In reflecting on my revelations with books the thoughts that I spiralled into involved the digital natives (or generation Z whichever you prefer) and their evaluation of and access to information and from that knowledge. Given my generation’s attitudes to mental arithmetic given access to calculators, will the natives given access to Google/wiki etc dismiss the need to learn and retain knowledge relying on the fact they have easy access to it?
This leaves me with 2 very pressing concerns:
- What happens when there’s no signal?
- How will they ever know the satisfaction of winning a pub quiz without cheating?