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The Confederate Lawyer
October 16, 2013

The End of Ink
by Charles G. Mills
fitzgerald griffin foundation

GLEN COVE, NY — For several thousand years, ink has been the glue that holds our civilization together. This is about to end, and the consequences may well be disastrous.

Civilization is built around permanent things. Many permanent things require permanent records to endure. Most permanent records are written or printed with ink. Permanent records are never written with pencils; pencils have a different purpose. Computers are more like pencils than fountain pens. What is written on a computer can be changed, just like pencil writing can be erased.

 

In George Orwell's 1984, old newspapers were constantly destroyed and replaced with false newspapers containing false history. Today, we can make this a reality.

 

In George Orwell's 1984, old newspapers were constantly destroyed and replaced with false newspapers containing false history. Today, we can make this a reality. The online versions of newspapers have replaced the printed versions as the main product. They can be updated all day long. This is more difficult to track than buying five editions of an afternoon newspaper was 50 years ago.

Law libraries now have computer banks but no longer get the recent volumes of key sets of books. Lawyers who want to read the more recent cases are expected to read them online. If a law book accidently publishes something politically incorrect, it no longer has to send out replacement pages; it simply changes the online edition.

There is a computer somewhere that changes all of Nancy Drew's frocks into jeans so that today's young women will buy the e-books. It is a lot easier to clean up the language of Tom Sawyer or Penrod.

 

The number of people who can read handwriting is shrinking. Someday it will be as small as the number who can read papyri or medieval manuscripts.

Little did George Orwell know how easy it would become to carry out his fantasy.

Seventy percent of this year's graduates of the University of Georgia Journalism School never read a book, magazine, or newspaper. They only read online.

The number of people who can read handwriting is shrinking. Someday it will be as small as the number who can read papyri or medieval manuscripts. The original Greek and Hebrew Biblical texts will never change, but few people today can read them. Shakespeare and Dante will never change; instead, modernized versions will be available for the non-scholars who cannot read the originals.

School children use computers a lot. Before too long, they will not know exactly what a book is. There will be few books in homes, schools, or libraries, but huge electronic libraries will be accessible from computers in every home, library, and school. Only scholars will actually read ink on paper. Everybody else will read online.

 

Seventy percent of this year's graduates of the University of Georgia Journalism School never read a book, magazine, or newspaper.

They will, in other words, read from the electronic equivalent of pencil on paper, and they will not know who has the eraser.

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The Confederate Lawyer column is copyright © 2013 by Charles G. Mills and the Fitzgerald Griffin Foundation, www.fgfBooks.com. All rights reserved.

This column may be forwarded, posted, or published if credit is given to Charles Mills and fgfBooks.com.

Charles G. Mills is the Judge Advocate or general counsel for the New York State American Legion. He has forty years of experience in many trial and appellate courts and has published several articles about the law.

See his biographical sketch and additional columns here.

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