I have a kneejerk reaction to strong-or discussions of print/publishing technology, and that is not because I disagree with online publishing (I’m a nerdblogger in several ways, I appreciate that) but because when the discussion gets often fatalistic in a way. Books or digital. One must die to allow the other. (There can only be one?)
As I alluded on Twitter, so many discussions like this make me frustrated because the tone can be derisive. Yes, everyone has access to digital publishing mediums. Yes, some of what gets published is less “consequential” than others. But describing content in such terms as below strikes me as a bit snobbish sometimes. “Less valuable,” “trivial” – not entirely untrue descriptions, but they do carry a certain judgment, sort of implying that official publishers serve as a gatekeeper of what is “valuable” and “serious.”
As access to easy-to-use and inexpensive publishing technology increases, it becomes economically feasible to publish smaller and less valuable pieces of content. We have reached the point where anyone with access to the Internet can easily and cheaply publish trivial, tiny pieces of information — even single words.
Maybe that’s just my social justice side talking, though. No, not everything that gets published online is of the same significance as a history textbook, per se, but – on the other hand, single words sometimes chronicle history as it’s happening and through the eyes of those experiencing it, not just an editorial gatekeeper removed from the situation with untold personal slants, and as a librarian, I celebrate equal access to perspectives, and will do my very best to maintain, organize, and apply metadata to all of those perspectives as necessary.