English, Department of


The Internet Jitters: Lessons from Technology Revolutions Past

Stephen Ramsay, University of Nebraska at Lincoln

Document Type Article

A talk given as part of the Sagan National Colloquium speaker series at Ohio Wesleyan University in 2000. Sven Birkerts had recently published The Gutenberg Elegies, and subsequent speakers were asked to respond to it while at the same time presenting their own thoughts on the digital revolution. The title of the talk was given by the organizers in advance.


Sven Birkerts's 1994 book The Gutenberg Elegies considered the future of reading just as the World Wide Web was rising to prominence. This essay, written in 2000, approaches Birkerts's encomium for traditional books and reading practices from the standpoint of one equally enamoured of both technology and literary study and draws parallels between Birkerts's worries and similar concerns during previous technological epochs.