Sunday, July 20, 2008

100,000,000 Authors, Will You Read?

There used to be a time when reading involved picking up a book and, you know, reading it. The library was the place to get information, and people planned their entire lives around their proximity to one (especially college students). In fact, just as recent as the mid '90s, when my dad was working on his master's degree from Eastern New Mexico University, a three or so hour drive from our then home in Carlsbad, he would literally have to go there to do research and things of that sort. In fact, it finally led to him having to relocate to dorm life for one summer in order to complete his degree.

Now, I could do my degree entirely from here at home, where I write this. All of the information, research and otherwise, is literally at my fingertips, brought to me at lightning speeds. Yes, the internet has changed our existence. I will be able to do a Ph.D. with ease unimagined just 15 years ago (I'm not saying it will be easy, but definitely easier than it was before the internet become widespread). Just thinking about the internet boggles the mind. This web of information continues to grow by the second. Anyone with a connection can participate, for free, and throw information to the world.

With all of this participation by humanity, we have a different literary experience than our parents and grandparents did (heck, even than WE did). Yes, books are out there, and they're being published and printed with greater speed than ever before in the history of humanity. Over 3,000 new and unique books are published in this world every single day. On top of that, over 800,000 videos are uploaded to Youtube every day, over 4,000,000 blog posts are made every day, and if all of the internet users were put together to form a country, it would be the biggest in the world, even bigger than China.

This is a lot of talking (probably too much, congratulations if you're still with me). What does all this mean then? It means that this isn't 1965, it isn't 1985, and it isn't even yesterday. This world is dynamic, and it's changing. Thanks to the internet, change is instantaneous and world wide. The world is so small we can see it all at once through the windows that are our computer screens. If schools don't adapt, we will die, and we'll drag our students to the depths with us. The time has come and passed, put down those textbooks, pick up those computers, and start preparing your students for the future, as crazy as it will be.