Friday, March 9, 2012
Post-Apocalyptic Musings of Henry Bemis
Many people are in love with their e-books -- and the convenience is certainly a factor. I'll stick with my print copies.
But when I hear from many friends who delight in their ability to dispose of all their print books -- and many of them are literally throwing their books in the garbage -- I imagine the most-pessimistic scenario: post-apocalyptic, end of the world stuff, and descent into a new Dark Ages.
Maybe it's the aftermath of a global nuclear armageddon, or maybe it's just slow decay into world-wide despotism and economic decline. But suppose before it happens most of the print industry ceases to be cause of e-books. Maybe in the post-Armageddon period most of the print libraries are burned to the ground, or burned for heating. Everybody has their e-books, of course. But there's no way to power the damned things. Industrial civilization is in smoking ruins. No power plants, no chargers.
But it gets worse: the microchips and hard-drives that all the knowledge of humanity is stored on -- those electronic devices die of their own accord after awhile. Atoms move around randomly over time, cosmic rays break down crystal structures, heat de-magnetizes disk platters. Most of it won't work after 20 years, but after 50 years? Not much will remain.
So your world has ended, most libraries are gone, everyone got rid of their print books -- and e-books go permanently dead. Education goes completely in the toilet in the short term, without books. And in the long-term -- the utter lack of books will greatly facilitate the decline into a _Very_ _Dark_ _Age_.