In case any of you book-spurning technolators out there are reveling in the hope that our digital manifest destiny is close at hand, take a look at the cautionary evidence that the Wall Street Journal's John Letzing put forth before you forsake your local academic library for the Google Book Search.
Tales of the Internet's unreliabilty as a research tool have been swapped for years, and you may have noticed that Wikipedia has recently taken quite a beating in the press. Tackling a different angle of this issue, Letzing talks with Geoffrey Bowker, author of the new book Memory Practices in the Sciences, about how infomation is getting marginalized or lost. The digitization process is unavoidably incomplete, leaving certain realms of scholarship behind. If scholars fail to get out and scour through the stacks, the users of digital databases are left "hoeing the same kind of territory."
Pablo Boczkowski furthers this point by accusing many academics of "failure to get out of their chairs." He is dismayed that people don't go to libraries anymore to research and thus cheat themselves of the "serendipity of accidental discoveries" and the "unexpected gems" that so helped him research his book, Digitizing the News.
The Wall Street Journal Online has the digital article. Your local libary has that lovely old book smell.