My colleague, Kevin Crowston, is attending the Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS). He has given me permission to share some of his notes from the short keynote address that Clifford Lynch gave for the Digital Media track.
In speaking about "digital media", Lynch "discussed how different kinds of media were evolving as they went digital. He noted that eBooks were still basically books, down to page flips. Journals are also digital, but journal articles look nearly the same. He suggested that the most truly digital medium was the video game, but that there was a lot of resistance to considering video games as the future form of literature. He noted that business documents had really gone virtual: e.g., the shift from a paper airline ticket to an entry in a database that doesn't even necessarily get printed out. He suggested that a real shift is the prevalence of personal libraries--people can carry around basically all of their music, books, papers, photos, and it's not clear how they are managing those." (quoting Crowston's notes. Emphasis added.)
Crowston said that Lynch "then changed gear to discuss problems of preservation of the culture record. He noted that library special collections are important as a record of how a person worked and ideas were developed. [This is] Increasingly problematic as boxes of obsolete diskettes and obsolete word processing files show up. Digital forensics increasingly is about seeing how a machine has interacted with the rest of the world, vs. finding files. Similarly, a person's personal record is now scattered across multiple services."
It is interesting that we continue to create digital versions/environments (e.g., the ebook) that mimic what we have done for decades without the use of computers. Perhaps it is that we haven't lived in the digital age long enough to understand how to take advantage of the technology in a way that is different than what we've done previously. Maybe we're still too tied to the old ways, to imagine how to do things differently. Could it take several generations of digital natives before changes occur?