A few months ago, I went into our local library, and I saw one of the girls up front who was checking in all the DVDs and CDs which had been lent out to library cardholders. She was using some sort of RFID tag reader to check them in and put them back into the inventory, where then she would take them and put them in the proper order to be checked out again. She had stacks and stacks of this multimedia material to go through, and then re-shelve. Quite intrigued, I asked her some questions, and she said they lend out more movies, and DVDs than they do actual books these days.
This new trend has nothing to do with my local library, it’s happening all over the United States. Indeed, our local library also allows people to check out e-books, to read them on their computers. That’s a pretty cool thing, and it seems that we have a mixing of multimedia and e-books at the Apple Store for those who have iPads, and this seems to be the new way information will be distributed in the future.
Indeed, I have a library with 3500 regular books, controlled digital lending and lots of e-books on my computer, and I have several collections of DVD history books, which give presentations which are similar to that which you might see on the Discovery Channel, or on Microsoft’s Encarta. Also, before Steve Jobs had passed on, he was dead-set on changing the way textbooks in colleges were distributed, lowering the costs and making it easier for students to afford. Most of the new eTextbooks being produced these days are fully multimedia.
There was an interesting article in the Futurist Magazine entitled; “A Future of Fewer Words? Five Trends Shaping the Future of Language” which appeared in the March-April 2012 Edition where the author, Lawrence Baines, stated:
“Natural selection is as much a phenomenon in human language as it is in natural ecosystems. And ongoing “survival of the fittest” may lead to continuing expansion of image-based communications and the extinction of more than half of the world’s languages by the end of the century.”
Yes, we already know this to be true, and the trend line shows that languages are dropping off very rapidly as the global interconnectedness of the Internet reaches all corners of the earth. We have truly crossed the digital divide, but in doing so we are also relishing ancient languages to the cemetery. Of course, the changes are everywhere, not just online, but in the way that humans consume their information, including all the books in the library. In fact, Lawrence Baines also stated in the same article;
“Most libraries today spend more on non-print media than on books and magazines.”
Another point that the author of that article brought up was how our language was becoming simpler, as it is being distributed globally not only for those who are doing the reading, but also for new English speakers who are just barely beginning to write in the language.
With 24% of the world population speaking English, and a simpler version of English, and more and more the educational material being multimedia, we are going through a significant transition period, which may in fact challenge us in the future and limit our ability to communicate our true meanings due to a shorter vocabulary. Indeed I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.