Should we trust books?

I read a great article on on the Gutenberg Parenthesis and its implications. It is a fascinating idea – do we place trust in books, simply because of the way they appear to us – in particular, the idea that truth itself can be contained in text.

In the parenthesis, people like to categorize — and that includes the things they read. So the idea clearly was that in books, you have the truth. Because it was solid, it looked straight, it looked like someone very clever or someone very intelligent had made this thing, this artifact. Words, printed words — in nice, straight columns, in beautifully bound volumes — you could rely on them. That was the idea.

So in a digital-era, where we are moving back to conversation – all be it sporadic, narcissistic digital chatter, should we be thinking the format of books themselves – which have this inherit ‘trust’ as authoritarian information. I wonder as people argue the pro’s and cons of desktops vs laptops vs mobiles vs consoles – if, as teacher educators we are getting in too deep with the wrong relationship.

Perhaps the solution is to make the default ePub, to take what we present in lectures and workshops (lean back, lean over technology) – using mobiles, iPads and eReaders. Should we stop teaching, and start producing accessible libraries of reference, activities and skill-buildings that we simply deliver and facilitate in book like ways.

From this research, it seems we are struggling to know who and what to trust as being truth. It’s no great shock that powerpointing people and laptop workshops are both familiar and un-inspiring to those who simply don’t believe in what is being said. Perhaps we should be thinking about creating iBook libraries of really useful stuff – and just handing it over.