The Great Digitization (Lucien X. Polastron)

Labels are a double-edged sword, if you ask me. They can provide you with valuable information about products, people, and places. But sometimes they are too simple and limiting with their direction.

Specifically when it comes to imposed labels we make for other people and ideas. What many call common sense, I call limiting perception. When we think on these labels of society, we might gain better perspective into our own assumptions and the world around us. Which is why I chose to read a book in the LABEL category this month. I wanted to think on something we are definitely taking for granted.

As always I’m going to offer up some information to remind of this ongoing process of mine, also known as the The 5 L’s of Language –

I will read one book a month from the 5 groupings below, slowly expanding the number of books read so that I reach the point of 5 books a month. A book for each group

  1. LIFE – Biographies/Art/Music
  2. LOVE – Classic Fiction/Non-Fiction/Graphic Novels
  3. LEARN – Business/Leadership/Self-Help
  4. LABEL – Philosophy/Sociology/Psychology
  5. LEET– The Internet

My goal with this of course is to share information with you that might help you avoid mistakes, stimulate your mind, and encourage you to think outside of your typical modus operandi.

Lucien X. Polastron, The Man Who Read Too Much?

Lucien X. Polastron is a French writer and historian who has focused his attentions on paper, books, the process of writing, and the history of libraries. When the National Library of Sarajevo was destroyed in 1992, it triggered his research into the history of libraries and the many examples of libraries which have been destroyed. This is something he had previously observed while working on research of history of paper.

His two most famous books are Books on Fire: The Destruction of Libraries throughout History, a historical survey of the destruction of books from Babylonia through to modern society, and The Great Digitization and the Quest to Know Everything, which examines the consequences (both good and bad) of the digitization of books.

Polastron posits that while the digitization of books is an excellent way to move forward the exchange and breakdown of knowledge, it can very easily creates parallels between book burning by restricting access to books and destroying their autonomy. Effectively removing the idea of free books altogether. For instance, if internet service providers charge for their services and publishers hold the rights to books, who polices the quality and authenticity of the information being shared.

After all, if libraries become obsolete, that means that local governments will have to fund services which they cannot control or leave very easily. It is up to us to not only move forward with technology but to also be conscious of and protective of the accuracy of these words.

It’s books that feature intelligent content and do not dumb down their theories for the reader which allow for proper mental exercise. And while this book is now a decade old, and we still have access to free information, the thoughts which echo throughout are still cautionary and relevant for a globalized marketplace.

Let’s close out this post without resorting to simple labels. Of course digitization has great many benefits. It opens up the world and creates a level playing field of information for many who don’t have access to money. Our education levels are increasing all over the world as this technology flattens and creates transparencies. With that said, I’m going to leave you with this thought.

If knowledge is power, then who is holding all of the cards?

I’m out of theories for today friends, but check back tomorrow when write something timely about Halloween. Should be spooky.