If you’re not online, you don’t exist. If your book is not available in electronic format, you stand no chance. If your paper is not in a journal which can be searched online, you won’t get too far in your academic career. Many would find these statements silly and unfair.
And yet. Rewind to the 1500s.
If you’re not in print, you don’t exist. If your book is still only available in manuscript copies, you have no chance of getting known. If your essay, tract or scientific treatise is not printed in widely-circulating books, you won’t get too far in your pursuits.
On the cusp of the digital age, we are renewing fears which have been entertained before – each time a new technology threatened to take over, we fall back on the status quo and begin erecting walls around it. It’s no surprise, as conservatism has always been a key element of human progress. What is surprising is that the more we know about this fundamental truth about human culture, the less inclined we are to heed it. And we fall in new traps over and over again, pitting one against another, despairing of the present and expecting the worst.