• Rich Barlow

    Senior Writer

    Rich Barlow

    Rich Barlow is a senior writer at BU Today and Bostonia magazine. Perhaps the only native of Trenton, N.J., who will volunteer his birthplace without police interrogation, he graduated from Dartmouth College, spent 20 years as a small-town newspaper reporter, and is a former Boston Globe religion columnist, book reviewer, and occasional op-ed contributor. Profile

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There are 5 comments on Mugar on a Microchip?

  1. The wonder of the digital age is the ability to transcend the boundaries of confinement that many of our scholarly works have traditionally been relegated. The Web opens up the possibilities for bold new frontiers of scholarship, helping us to see the connections between seemingly disparate disciplines, investigations, and relationships; curator of a more inclusive narrative of archives than has ever been possible in society. The consequences are enormous.

    The role and the purpose of the library are far from diminished. On the contrary, its role is enhanced, its purpose made ever more relevant.

    As the Web continues to define and carve out public space, as it redefines access, our libraries will continue to be the codex and the scroll by which we navigate and document an increasingly complex and interdisciplinary world that seeks to include all the voices and all the ideas that define who we were, who we are, and where we go from here.

  2. As a computer scientist I have to point out that Hudson’s concerns at the end of the article about computers becoming obsolete quickly aren’t very relevant to this situation. The computer itself hasn’t become obsolete, and I doubt it ever will. Certain computer technologies, such as floppy disks and zip disks have and that will continue to happen. CDs and DVDs have already become obsolete even if some people haven’t realized it yet. The difference is that you don’t maintain a digital library the same way you maintain old budgets and memos, on a floppy disk in a desk drawer. You keep it on one or more servers that are backed up regularly with sufficient redundancy. As long as the server can connect to a network it can be accessed. It’s actually a safer way of storing books than in print form, especially for old or rare books. As the article says, I think the best idea is a balance of print and digital. Both have advantages and there’s no reason not to have both.

  3. Not to be a “THAT GUY” but doesn’t it concern anyone that the centralization of books means things like not yet imagined future censorship could easily make sweeping changes to books? A text is deemed politically or culturally wrong and then just disappears or is legislated away?
    Then there’s this, what about a computer virus or mass unforseen failure of storage systems?
    Sounds paranoid, but I am a Database Administrator working on my MSCIS in I.T. Security and I know enough about computers and human history to understand large, unforseen political upheavals and large-scale technology failure.
    I like the digital idea but I can’t shake some serious reservations.

    1. “Text conveniently disappears” is not a valid concern: there are too many legal and illegal archives, diverse governments and wayback machines for someone to rewrite the ending of George Orwell’s 1984.

      As for a large scale technology failure: having been employed in corporate computer technology and owned a personal computer for over 30 years, I am not interested in living in a post-apocolyptic world where technology fails back to the victorian era or before. If such a fate dooms the world, the struggle to survive will outweigh any concerns about the fate of digital libraries.

  4. It would be great, generouse one if BU put all library of Professor Richard Frye on the web. I am waiting for it. Thanks a lot BU.
    The best idea is a balance of print and digital. Both have advantages and there’s no reason not to have both, as wrote Tom.

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