Digital Humanities and the Future of Print Culture

Print culture isn’t going anywhere. It may look a little bit different than it did several hundred years ago, but it is by no means obsolete. New and emerging fields, such as digital humanities, are transforming research within the academy; however, these new fields still depend on the printed word.

Print culture and digital culture will continue to co-exist with one another. I don’t view these two as competing interests, but more as a marriage. Printed material is being supported by digital technologies more and more over time. Textbooks often come with CDs offering an online copy of the text or extra practice problems, newspapers have online versions, many rare books libraries offer scans of some of their most fragile holdings, and the list goes on an on.

I think the digital humanities are the best example of print culture and digital culture existing in harmony. Put simply, the digital humanities integrate the academic paper-based research of scholars with computer-based technologies. But if you ask ten different people to define the digital humanities, you’ll get ten different definitions.

As long as there are books being published, there are going to be people who read them. Academics still publish literary criticism of Akkadian written on cuneiform tablets, scrutinize scrolls made of parchment, and pore over hieroglyphics.  People read whatever is available and I do not think print culture is by any means becoming extinct.



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