“From Papyrus to Pixels” discusses how the predicted downfall of the book never quite came to be. Books never quite had a singular definition, and they are still useful, widely purchased, and don’t seem to going anywhere anytime in the near future. Electronic books offer unique advantages in some situations (lighter in weight, more discretion, etc.), but they have not replaced print books completely and it seems that they won’t do so. Audiobooks and other digital reading formats also offer unique opportunities and challenges for readers, authors, and publishers, but again have not completely replaced the print book. This reading was particularly interesting to me as a librarian, because I often get questions like: “Do libraries still exist?” “How long do you think libraries will still be around?” “How are you adapting to everything moving to a digital format?” Most of the these are poorly veiled inquiries that are really trying to get at the perceived demise of my field (and my job). These questions seem to lack the understanding that this article presented of technological mediums always being in some state of flux, with each format presenting new and unique challenges and opportunities.
The so-called digital age presents more opportunities for self-publishing as there is a relatively low barrier to entry, which is access to an Internet connection and some sort of device. While this levels the playing field to some extent (at least while net neutrality is still a thing), the sheer volume of content produced also presents its own challenges, which leads into Sardar’s work and the idea that we, as media consumers, are always behind in catching up on web content. In “Why should we study the Media?,” Sarsar mentions Lazarsfeld of the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University, who said that one of the functions of the media was to “reduce active public action” because “people are too busy consuming.” Perhaps all of us have felt burnout on social media and seen the popular idea of social media breaks or “cleanses.” While this overwhelming consumption was discussed as a function of the media during the 1940s, its implications can still be seen in the present day media. While reading this, I immediately thought of a very recent example in the news, which was the appearance of Kellyanne Conway, Counselor to President Trump, on Meet the Press, in which she stated that the White House press secretary was offering “alternative facts” rather than admitting to lying about the size of the crowds during Trump’s inauguration. This example plays into an overarching goal of the Trump administration, which seems to be aimed at making the truth and facts convoluted and ultimately difficult to figure out. Perhaps this is all centered upon the hope that Americans will simply be too overwhelmed with all the media input to investigate and find truth, to trust any media source, and to continue any meaningful engagement in politics. Before reading this, I hadn’t thought of this truth-evasion as some sort of strategy, but it makes sense as we all probably face at least some level of technological fatigue in all of the emails, tweets, and other notifications that happen throughout our daily lives.