Charlie Clark, in The Washington Post today,: considers the case of the vanishing reference book:
"In our digitally drenched age, I find myself fascinated by the 'refresh' function on today's more dynamic Web sites. The steadily blinking, disappear-and-reappear changes to washingtonpost.com and my AOL home page reassure me in a nanosecond that the information I take in is perpetually updated -- with zero effort by me.
"Small problem, however. Computers have so accelerated our thought processes, so raised our expectations and so reduced our patience that nowadays when I consult one of my venerable reference works, I take for granted this same up-to-the-minute 'refreshment.' Instead, it hits me like a punch in the nose when I discover that my research sources are frozen in an era when Jimmy Carter was president, the Bee Gees ruled radio and TV news was a half-hour a day.
"So, you ask, why not go digital? I mean, who still buys their children a heavy shelf of World Book Encyclopedia volumes when you can score a current and searchable version that fits in your coat pocket?
"Truth is, I'm too attached to the glorious objects that give ambiance to my thinking man's study to trade them for a rack of utilitarian plastic and ephemeral data. "