The Role of Books in Protecting History

Nowadays, books have become such a ubiquitous and almost obsolete object, that it is interesting to re-trace the evolution of books and the impact it has begotten upon societies throughout the centuries. Books, particularly before the invention of the internet, have played a major role in the transmission of information between generations and the spread of new ideas. Without books, history is silent, knowledge does not get passed down, and science never evolves. Like author Barbara W. Tuchman claimed, “Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. […] Books are humanity in print.”

I found Mr. Goodwillie’s explanations of how various civilizations invented their own idea of how a book should be created and what information it should contain fascinating. Although starting with the desire to spread the truths found in the Bible, written contents slowly deviated from religion and Christianity to share practical knowledge (seen, for instance, in Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie) and/or knowledge about the world (Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry). It’s interesting to think that without book innovation and the constant improvement civilizations added to it, our current society would know nothing about history. It makes me question if the digital age we now live in is going to play a similar role in protecting history, or destroy what books had been accomplishing for centuries.

One Reply to “The Role of Books in Protecting History”

  1. This idea also came to my mind when we looked at the archives during class yesterday. I was thinking about how funny it is that we take for granted how easy it is to record our thoughts, feelings, experiences, stories, etc. today both digitally and by hand. We are surrounded by platforms and tools to write on/with and a few hundred years ago transcribing was a major privilege and a groundbreaking process that only few had the opportunity of participating in.

    I think the digital age will continue to favor technological means of recording history due to convenience, but I don’t think we have to worry about books ever going away. There is something about holding a book in your hand that makes the reading and visual experience special.

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