As a consequence of living a digital life, there have been many times that I wish I was able to magically do a Control/Command F (find) to locate a particular section or term in a physical book. As if it would spring open to that page, and highlight the term I sought.
As seductive that particular idea is, Google’s plan for Book Search would allow that to happen in the virtual world.
When I had heard about this effort a few years ago, I instantly thought it was a fantastic idea. Being able to digitally search books would make knowledge acquisition so easy. I hadn’t put much thought into it beyond that.
But, after reading this weeks assignment in Carr’s ‘The Shallows,’ I firmly believe that doing so would further erode our mental ability to “decode” and “deep read” material. I think Carr’s right, and I read with fascination in the prior chapter about how reading online versus print affects not only understanding but re-trains our brains. Based on my personal experience, I believe it to be true.
Even if Google does digitize every book, I can’t imagine that physical books will go away. As consumers we have choice, and I hope we will continue to have the choice to pick up a physical copy when we want. Books are often my refuge not only from the glare of the screen, but from the distractions that erode my comprehension.