Scrolling Forward by David M. Levy. Questions from Group 3 (for Monday Oct. 9)
Levy's "love letter" to documents raised many fine points for debate. We've tried to whittle down our list of questions, but it remains stubbornly long. Here are more than few questions to ponder:
In Levy's discussion of the future of libraries, he cites Francis Miksa. Levy summarizes Miksa's claims about libraries of the future this way: "The public space within which the modern library operated, and which it helped to sustain, is closing down. In its place will come private libraries" (p 134).
1: What are the potential consequences of private libraries taking the place of public, brick-and-mortar libraries?
2: A major mission of public libraries is to provide information and services to all people, including people who are economically disadvantaged. Public libraries help to bridge the digital divide, and offer a "shared sacred space." What will happen to equal access to information if Miksa's prediction comes true?
In his discussion of technology's contributions to the frenetic pace of modern life, Levy writes, "Could it be that we are rushing ever faster, hoping to save ourselves, to liberate ourselves from our suffering and our sense of lack?"
3: Does technology have to play the villain here? How can technology make a positive contribution, and help to eliminate Levy's lack, in enriching the lives of its users?
4: Is technology necessarily devoted to doing things faster and faster, leaving no time for rich, reflective living?
Tree Flakes Encased in Dead Cow: The Printed Word
5: What were the similarities and differences that Levy perceived between his study of computer programs and calligraphy?
6: What do the differences between the various editions of Leaves of Grass that Levy discusses say about our experience of the work? Are they important?
7: What are the similarities and differences between web documents and traditional printed material?
8: Do books, in their physical entity, block information content? Do we need to "free the writing from the frozen structure of the page" and "liber[ate] the text"? (112)
Let's explore his Dewey vs Whitman idea--
9: What is Levy's attitude toward the tension between digital and traditional technology?
10: How does this relate to his discussion of the existential nature of the creation of human culture?
11: How does he think we should "scroll forward"?
To illustrate his points about the history and status of documents in everyday life, Levy draws many examples from popular culture.
12: Can you think of another contemporary document, like the deli receipt, postcard, or greeting card, that might serve as an equally fascinating subject of exegesis/cultural analysis?
13: Do you think that the invention and use of "emoticons" signals a general downturn in the writing abilities of the computer-using population? (Surely, in times past, people were able to express humor, etc. through word choice and writing style?).
14: Levy refers to the 1985 film Brazil to illustrate the dark side of documents. What other films can you think of that deal with this subject?
Finally, some thoughts on the present and future of documents.
15: How do you feel about the assertion that our culture, when compared to others, lacks a reverence for the written word? If that is the case, how does this impact us as librarians? More specifically, is it within the scope of our responsibility to promote literacy prowess & increased appreciation for the document in all its forms?
16: Is documentation a "form of ventriloquism?" (What a fun thought!)
17: Discuss Levy's description of librarians as "practitioners of new book history." What does this mean?
18: Has our attention span collectively decreased? Does the possibility give anyone else a sense of foreboding (it's a suggestive idea)? What are the implications not only for our future, but also for our present state of mind?
19: Has technology truly replaced the notion of god(s)?