For one thing, newspapers have been losing subscribers for years; many are now digital as well as paper. The longest running newspaper in Chicago (1844-present); however, it has had massive lay-offs because of the reduction in subscriptions. And, with online books and such items as Kindle, etc. people are reading novels, historical texts, cookbooks, and much more digitally. Encyclopedias are now digital, dictionaries are digital, bibles are digital. There is information of all types that can be accessed digitally. Certainly, digital means present a simpler and much small format for storage, provided that it does not disappear or be altered. (One thinks of the Ministry of Truth in 1984.
Something as simple as a letter has almost found extinction because one can send an email or text message. So, what will happen in the future when students take a field trip to Washington, D.C., and visit the Library of Congress or a presidential library. Rather than read the letters of former presidents, will they instead look at selfies that these presidents took with other heads of state and read their e-mails and text messages that were not deleted?
Michael Suarez, director of U.Va.‘s Rare Book School, says, “The most important thing to point out is that despite lots of writing to the contrary, the book is not dead.” He points to the fact that there are certain passages and elements of style in novels that cannot be accessed by simply using a keyword search.
In keyword searches, texts can be taken out of context, and a student may not understand the reach and implication of a selection within a larger piece.
Take the 18th-century novel Tom Jones, for example. If a student sought to discover the comedic elements so essential to the book, what words would she type into a search engine?
Added to this element, there are the cultural markings that are in published books: Introductions, covers, layout of pages, illustrations, editor's notes, etc. that contribute to the history of the book as well as the overall impressions made upon readers.
The first example I thought of for this situation is the school system. In my English class we are able to type our assignments and turn them in online. We hardly ever get worksheets in school anymore; everything is technology based. We even read our books online!
All the news we receive about school events, or just world news in general, is online, through apps, or on TV (no more newspapers).
Use of letters has dropped dramatically. We now have emails and texts, so there is no need for sending letters.
These things aren't bad though. Technology has made communication so much easier and more effective.