We are currently in the midst of a technical revolution where we are experiencing everything from new software innovation, to hardware getting smaller while still gaining leaps and bounds in terms of performance. The new iPhone 6s and 6s+, with their processor performance rivaling that of processors that were in laptops and desktops just 6 years ago, comes to mind as an example of this. However, even considering all of this, we are, in my opinion, just scratching the surface of what will be possible in the coming years. It is clear that digital is where the world is going, and, to illustrate that point with an example, think about the last time you used a source for a paper or a project that was not a digital source. How long has it been? A few months, maybe a few years? I, personally, cannot remember the last time one of my sources was a physical book or publication that was not the textbook that I had for the class. That is largely because of the digitizing of texts and the widespread availability of information on the internet. However, that is not to say you can find anything online, and that is one of the main points that Jerome McGann touches on in his article titled Radiant Textuality.
In McGann’s article, he states that “we stand at the beginning of a great scholarly revolution”, that revolution, he summarizes, is to make the resources that are housed in libraries, museums, and archives available to everyone no matter if they have the ability to physically go see these institutions for themselves. He states that to make this happen, this content must be digitized, and it is easy to see why this is the case. To truly make these resources available to everyone who wants to access them, or wants to use them for a scholarly purpose, the easiest way to do this is to make it available online, which will theoretically allow access to these resources with the device that the vast majority of us have in our pocket right now.
Now, to go back to my original point about using digital sources, how much would it help to not only have access to what we already have access to on the internet, but also have access to publications and books that are housed in libraries that many of us will not see, and therefore, will not use? I would wager to say a lot, especially for more detailed papers with the need for scholarly articles and sources. Now it is true that there is a cost factor, and McGann states in similar projects corners were cut, such as the removal of the front and back covers of books, to save money, however, I think the cost will be worth it when you consider how these materials can be used. Also it is important to mention that this article was written in 1996. The costs that were involved with a project like this in 1996 are likely much higher than they would be now, due to innovation and progress with digital technologies. In addition, the information should be even more accessible now than it would have been at that time. Overall I think that this is something that not only should happen, but will happen eventually, as the draw of moving towards digital is just too great.
McGann, Jerome. Radiant Textuality. Victorian Studies, Vol. 39, No. 3 (Spring, 1996), pp. 379-390