The New York Times Magazine has a really great essay on the future of books–you really should check this out. Kevin Kelly states that as books are digitally scanned, a universal library will be created that is open for all to use (well, at least non-copyrighted material will hopefully be free, alongside the assumed “contextual ads”)–not just the well-heeled people in developed nations (welcome news also for graduate students eating ramen noodles and beans out of a can saving up the little scraps of extra cash for the next SBL conference so he or she can purchase books at significant discount).
This is by itself is not that radical. What is radical is that Kelly states that instead of having a compilation of all individually published material into a universal library, we will actually have one book. Books will be indexed by search engines, tagged by readers, contain hyperlinked references and bibliographies, etc. Furthermore, people will be able to cut and paste snipets from multiple books together to create book mashups similar to what is now seen with video, music, and Google maps. This will lead to a sort of “liquid knowledge” whereby one can completely exhaust all publishable material on specific topics through search engines. So, if this interests you, check out the essay.
What do you think about all this?