There’s a particular genre of satirical cartoons that throw shots at the younger generation, mocking their supposed inability to perceive the “real world” outside the technological framework of their smartphones. The “thought-provoking criticism” in these cartoons usually amounts to stereotyping Millennials and Gen Zs as spoiled kids who cannot read physical books because they cannot click or swipe it. The general assumption of these cartoons is that convenient modern technology is flighty and needless and that the younger generation is intellectually inferior compared to their elders because of it. Nevermind that certain device-based appliances, like medical apps for patients on the iPhone, are more useful to have than not.
While the accuracy and fairness of these satirical cartoons can be called into question (considering that their target audience is usually composed of older demographics who know little to nothing about modern technology), the relationship between physical and “clickable” books are worthy of discussion.
Ebooks are possibly the most recognizable form of digitized information, in that plenty of them started life as physical books before being scanned and converted to a digital medium. Google Books, an internet service that lets netizens access scanned books, magazines, and other documents, is one of the most famous databases of digitally-converted information, with novels as old as the early 20th century made available online. On the topic of the younger generation, a study by the National Literacy Trust suggests that a “mixed-reading diet” of digital and physical books is more conducive for children’s learning than choosing an extreme (learning exclusively from digital books or learning exclusively from physical books). This seems to imply that despite the widespread use of modern technology, book-learning and device-learning is not mutually exclusive.
A Wealth of Information
While databases such as Google Books might be hampered by copyright restrictions and such, the convenience of an online library of scanned books from all over the world cannot be denied. Electronic platforms for information are much easier to access and analyze. The best medical apps for android, for example, can reduce the complications of physical medical records or book reading to check the symptoms for a disease. Despite this, physical reading materials do not seem to be in danger of becoming obsolete, because physical books, papers and libraries continue to be used in conjunction with digital data.