The virtual and the printed, exclusion or complementariness?
Author: César Carrillo-Trueba
As often occurs in any “revolution,” its imminent arrival appears to sweep away all traces of the previous regime, whether in the sphere of politics or in that of science and technology. However, that is never completely true. The French revolution exalted secularism as a core value of the new state, but having taken over government ended up finding popular religious beliefs useful. Something very similar has occurred in the realm of printed media, as the expansion of the worldwide web has appeared to condemn them to disappearance, ushering in a new age in which paper would cease to be used entirely and digital media would reign supreme. At several years’ distance from such a mirage, we find that not only do books and magazines persist, they flourish and coexist harmoniously with their digital counterparts. In fact, the virtual makes the printed visible and alerts a vast audience to new publications, while print media incite readers to go on line to expand their understanding if topics they absorb through paper and ink. Also, as Umberto Eco insightfully observes, the profusion of websites with information of dubious quality makes it essential to exercise criticism in print, like a beacon which helps sailors navigate a turbulent sea, brimming with duplications, falsehoods, and banalities, and helps enhance its value as a resource. The core issue involves the articulation of both worlds, the realization of their complementariness. Based on the experience we have accumulated in the magazine Ciencias, at the National Autonomous University of Mexico -, this lecture analyzes several facets of the debate, which has not yet ended and, due to the accelerated growth of the web, remains highly relevant, while continuing to pose a dilemma for many publications and editors who continue to see a threat to their future in such predictions.