While skimming through my RSS feed this morning, I ran across Scott Greenfield’s post called “This (pointing) Is A Book”. Scott discusses the issue of libraries slowly disappearing and being replaced by technology like the Kindle. He also mentions that the Millennial Generation has a general distaste for physical books, that this is a major flaw in their development, and that those that have electronic collections rather than books have no soul.
I don’t know, Scott… a lot of the books I have on my shelf, I “intend” to read some day (especially those from the Dalai Lama and former Presidents), whereas all of the books I have in my Kindle I “have” read. Don’t get me wrong, as a librarian and a GenX’er, I do appreciate personal library collections, but I’ve found that many (especially people with large personal collections) view their libraries as piece of art rather than information resources. Judging a person’s soul by the library they collect is like judging how good a lawyer is by the suit they wear to court.
Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital, told a story at the TEDxTO conference last week about his meeting a Rhodes Scholar from Florida who told a panel of University Presidents that he “doesn’t read books.” Although, this was a gross overstatement (he ‘skims’ books by using sources like Google Books to find the core information, or he flips back and forth from the index to portions of the book to glean the relevant information… or as we call it in academia — “Research.”)
The language of information is changing and Don Tapscott refers to this as Generation Lap where the way information is being created and distributed is changing. It is similar to children of immigrants who learn the language before their parents. So, when you see statements like Mary Grabar’s saying that Millennials made comments like “the teacher thought she knew more than the students,” you have to think of it in the same way that the immigrant children who think they know more “about the new language” than their parents. If you take the comment with that background, the statement isn’t as asinine as it seems on the surface.
Take a look at Don Tapscott’s interview about the “Grown Up Digital” generation and I think you’ll gain a better appreciation of what really is the good and bad about how this generation learns and contributes. Those that you are categorizing as “Slackoisie” may be reading, learning, understanding, and contributing more than you give them credit.