This following selection was, to me, the most interesting part of our reading of “Promises and Perils”:
“A more serious threat in digital media, which runs counter to its great virtues of accessibility and diversity, is the real potential for inaccessibility and monopoly. The best-known danger—the digital divide in computer ownership and Internet use between rich and poor, white and non-white—has diminished somewhat, but it persists despite politically motivated claims to the contrary. And on a global basis, the divide is wide indeed; two-thirds of the people in the world have no access to telephones, let alone the Net. Moreover, even as more and more people acquire computers and Internet connections, they do not simultaneously acquire the skills for finding and making effective use of this new, free global resource.26Another concern stems more from the production than the consumption side. Will amateur and academic historians be able to compete with well-funded commercial operators—like the History Channel—for attention on the Net?”
As someone who falls on the pro-book side of this debate, I found the above segment from our first reading interesting on several levels.
First, it makes a case in support of the cause to refrain from “burning” the books. Accessibility is a real problem that is not going to be fixed anytime soon, so let’s not get rid of a highly accessible means of communicating historical information.
The following selections from the above segment stood out to me in regards to concerns about digitization:
“A more serious threat in digital media, which runs counter to its great virtues of accessibility and diversity, is the real potential for inaccessibility and monopoly… Another concern stems more from the production than the consumption side. Will amateur and academic historians be able to compete with well-funded commercial operators—like the History Channel—for attention on the Net?”
As I sit here wearing a t-shirt of my favorite Austrian economist, Murray Rothbard, I could go on and on about this “threat” of monopoly, but I’ll keep it brief, in saying that in regards to competition with corporations such as the History Channel, that will be the main struggle and goal of these smaller digital media providers. They will have to present their product, and the market will decide who survives and who doesn’t.
Yet another reason to keep the books, while making an attempt at successful digitization of historical content and education.
Topics of Interest:
This semester I would be interested in studying several different historical events. In my study of the Cold War, I have focused a good deal of attention to the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis. I would enjoy the opportunity to continue my study in those events, especially as U.S. foreign relations with Cuba have recently changed.
Another Cold War topic I would enjoy studying is the defining moment that brought an end to the Cold War: the fall of the Berlin Wall.
As for an event that happened on U.S. soil, I would be interested in studying the events surrounding the Boston Tea Party, as a pivotal moment on the road to the American Revolution.