Upon reading the articles, listing reasons on why or why not digital scholarship should be held to the same level as traditional scholarship, I was wondering what all of the fuss was about. The answer seems obvious, they are different paths that overlap and can complement each other, with one no lesser than the other.
Trying new things is difficult, and what has worked in the past, by which I mean articles, book, journals and the like, will continue to function as they always have. New media entering the fray doesn’t change that. What is changing is how people come to expect information, and by the means of which they get it.
Books are slow moving. It takes years to write one, months to publish one, and decades to change one. With the internet, things move much faster. The collaboration is easier, the feedback is almost immediate, and fact checking is a necessity, if only to keep the commenters happy.
On the other hand, the internet’s reliability in terms of truthfulness can be rather suspect, as opposed to articles, which will have gone through an extensive peer review process. Anyone can put up anything, and make it look just as creditable. There is so much information put up, it is impossible to fact check everything.
Digital scholarship is rather recent, and there are not real standards yet as to what counts as ‘scholarly work’ when compared to books. This allows for a great deal of freedom and innovation into what can be accepted. The only thing is the fight that it takes to ensure that the piece is held to a similar standard of an article or book. It would not be to the same standard, because it would be too slow to adapt to all the changes made in a digital media.
Already, books are becoming digital, through electronic readers and the like, for the ease of access and the cost of printing make it more feasible, cheaper and wider spread. Opposed to traditional print mediums, which can drive up costs and make it hard for publishers and authors to break even, electronic texts have less risk for the same information, and more direct profits. If the technology is there, people will use it. Books can be boring, when compared to an interactive, fun website that can tell you the same information, at the rate the user wishes, as opposed to reading, or skimming, through a text to find what fact you want.
Books will never die out completely, but the allure and appeal of the new ways of distributing information are clearly here to stay. The trouble is with finding a middle ground for both mediums to put their best foots forward.