While confronting the problems of the present, I often find myself thinking back to the world of books as it was experienced by the Founding Fathers and the philosophers of the Enlightenment.
It simply is not true that everything is now on the Internet, but it is true that the digital resources available through the Internet have enormous potential for education and even for self-empowerment of individuals.
The American revolutionaries believed in the power of the word. But they had only word of mouth and the printing press. We have the Internet.
My work has taken me from historical research to involvement in electronic publishing ventures to the directorship of the Harvard University Libraries.
We need librarians who can handle this tremendous jumble of information that is in cyberspace.
When you tell people you’re in history, they give you this pained expression because that was the course they hated in high school. But history can be exciting, intellectually rigorous, and fun.
I worked for a brief spell as a journalist, but soon I discovered that I didn’t want to be a journalist – I wanted to be a historian.
As a graduate student at Oxford in 1963, I began writing about books in revolutionary France, helping to found the discipline of book history. I was in my academic corner writing about Enlightenment ideals when...
Texts are always in flux.
As president of the American Historical Association, I started a programme to make dissertations into e-books in 1999. Before I knew it, I was involved in other electronic projects. Harvard invited me to become director...
The fact that I spend a lot of time in the 18th century doesn’t mean I’m not concerned with the 21st.
I want to continue to strengthen Harvard’s fabulous collections in old printed material, but at the same time, I want to help Harvard move into the world of digitized information.
I believe we should celebrate new possibilities of combining the printed codex with electronic technology… The information ecology is getting richer, not thinner.
The notion of ‘history from below’ hit the history profession in England very hard around the time I came to Oxford in the early 1960s.
I would not minimize the digital divide, which separates the computerized world from the rest, nor would I underestimate the importance of traditional books.
People think that when you use Google you’re finding exactly what you need, but really, you need expert help.
I arrived from Harvard, where I had studied philosophy and the history of ideas, with a bias toward literature and formal thought.
The idea of a national digital library has been in the air for a long time, and there was a danger that some people would feel that it’s their property, so to speak.
People sometimes announce that we have entered ‘the information age’ as if information did not exist in other times. I think that every age was an age of information, each in its own way and...
It’s important to make clear to all the schools at Harvard the central role of the library.
We are living in one of those rare moments in history when things may come apart and be put back together again in ways that will determine the future for decades or more, despite the...
Thanks to modern technology, we now can deliver every text in every research library to every citizen in our country, and to everyone in the world. If we fail to do so, we are not...
All of us are citizens in a republic much larger than the Republic of America. It is the Republic of Letters, a realm of the mind that extends everywhere, without police, national boundaries, or disciplinary...
Digital data are more fragile than printed material.
I was very fortunate to be elected to the Society of Fellows at Harvard, which is, in effect, a small research center where you are given three years to do whatever work you want.
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