The Bronze Age Bible and the Digital Debate: These Words May Be Forever, But This Sentence Is Not

I have some bad news for wannabe and up-and-coming prophets. Your words are not eternal. At least not anymore. Humanity no longer has a sense of “forever,” especially with the data it collects. Information is now temporary and relative. People just want to know what comes next.

The written word has always been conservative. Not necessarily politically conservative, but anthropologically conservative.

Since humans began writing symbols, we have viewed the written word as something eternally true. It doesn’t change. It’s been written down. Chiseled in stone. Written by the Creator’s finger. You can open a book, at any time during the book’s life, and the words will appear exactly as they did when they were printed.

But now, when you enter your insurance dealer’s office, instead of saying they will find your name and policy number in a book, they will find you in a computer database.

This is a paradigm-shifting experience few people have noticed.

Databases are not eternal. The written words of prophets are eternal, right? Databases are things that can be amended, changed, deleted, or even wrong. Databases are up for debate. The written word was the final say.

But that has changed.

Words will continue to lose their permanence faster and faster as books evolve from paper to digital forms.

Electronic books are a whole new model in which to view the debate between permanence and disposable.

The meaning of an electronic-book and its author can be debated openly in public forums online. The audience can come to a consensus in real time on whether or not the writer is a crackpot. Facts can be checked. Theories reviewed. All with the help of computers, the same thing that makes e-books possible.

Computers revolutionized publishing. Books are now easy to write, publish and distribute. But these are the same factors that will make the written word temporary and transient and impermanent.

My apologies to the up-and-coming prophets. Unless you are willing to contend with the democratization of your work and your words, and have them openly debated, and allow people to post contrary ideas to your website, you are entering into the wrong field of work.

But there is good news. If you are truly powerful and all-knowing and anointed, get a job on Wall Street. I hear that type of work is going splendidly right now.

And yes, everything I’ve said goes for futurists as well.

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About Blog Boss

Jim MacKenzie and Sarah Giavedoni are the creators of the blogs Stuff Monsters Like, the Incredible Vanishing Paperweight, and more. When they are not blogging, they are devoted to managing the Asheville Blogger Society, watching movies, running a completely unrelated nonprofit, and making money at their paid employment.
This entry was posted in Language and Communication, Relationship to Books. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Bronze Age Bible and the Digital Debate: These Words May Be Forever, But This Sentence Is Not

  1. Margie says:

    Interesting ideas!
    Many old books are disintegrating because of the acid in the paper – same for many more modern paperbacks. Ironically, it might be electronic copies of these books that ensure they can be archived and stored for future readers.

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