It is a refreshing, but rare, experience to read or hear fromrnsomeone who questions the economic feasibility and practicalityrnof the bookless future envisaged bv the technovandals. Itrnis even rarer to hear someone ask, “Even if we can do thesernthings, why would we want to?” One person who asks thesernquestions to brilliant effect is Walt Crawford, a librarian withrnthe Research Libraries Group with whom I am writing a bookrnon the future of libraries. In a number of recent papers givenrnat professional conferences, Crawford sums up a host of issues,rneconomic and technical, that go to the hollow heart of thernantilibrary movement.rnIt is indisputable that, in Crawford’s words, “no electronicrnmedium can even begin to compare with ink on paper forrnreadability, particularly for sustained reading.” It is also indisputablernthat the best resolution of the characters in electronicallyrntransmitted light is greatly inferior to that of the charactersrnin the worst printed text using reflected light. There is nornforeseeable answer to this problem. This means that, in thernelectronic future of the technovandals, any sustained readingrnwill be done with expensive, resource-wasting printouts that arernthemselves greatly inferior to economical printed texts. Waitrna minute, though. Technovandals believe that the sustainedrnreading of texts is unnecessary and bad. There are only two positionsrnto take logically. On the one hand, you can believe inrnthe power of sustained reading to enlighten, teach, illuminate,rnand entertain and, therefore, must grant that the printed bookrnis the best technology we have and are likely to have in the foreseeablernfuture. On the other hand, you can believe in therndumbing down of society to a state of ignorance for thernmasses and “information” for those who have money and wantrnto make more.rnNone of the technovandals has addressed the economics ofrntheir dystopia in a convincing way. As Crawford points out,rnonly a seventh of the cost of printed materials is due to printingrnand distribution (other estimates put the proportion as lowrnas a tenth). All the remaining costs will be incurred whetherrntexts are printed or distributed electronically. Even if electronicrnstorage and distribution were free (which they most certainlyrnwill not be), the savings would be marginal. This has to be understoodrnin the context of the enormous cost of the destructionrnof the publishing industry and its replacement by an electronicrnsystem funded by . .. whom?rnTo ignore the economic foundations of a hypothetical worldrnof digitized knowledge and information is to ignore the realrnthreat to freedom that such a worid represents. The inconceivablyrnmassive capital required to destroy and replace printbasedrnknowledge and information industries can only comernfrom the government in alliance with mega-industry. Thosernwho have the gold make the rules, and those who invest billionsrnin the new digitized wodd will have control over every aspect ofrnit. The potential for censorship, control of access to knowledgernand information, and limitation of intellectual freedom is limitless.rnIf those to whom the life of the mind is important acquiescernin this destruction they shall, by their silence, be committingrnthe ultimate treason to learning and to intellectualrnfreedom. crn!;fCOlorful phoiorn• Fece pitjscfijnpcyrn’ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ” • • • ‘ ^ ^ weA’Smtmimmitwii;^ find andrni n o ^ ^ 30,000 readefs yidtfarnHave fun with our homeschoirnsections. 6f ‘F-ind ihc Tootrnissue! %.rnS^vcmonjPf-^hourdtigHiei ,-.-,.,-. –rnI ‘ ^ M ^ i ^ ^ P r ^ ‘ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ‘ pTodu’eti^eicH issue]rn^^’^”- ‘ ^ the Iflost ideas &r techniques foT all ages. Unitrnstudfl^iUgfessicale^caiion Early education “Great Booiss.”rnA c c e l ^ W education (one of our columnists has kids whornrouijnely get an accredited Masters degree b age 16!).rnOur latest issue was 96 pages!rnfS«;rets,s2-,