We were talking this week about online research, and the astonishing things that are available online. (I mean, holy cannoli, the folks at Medievalist.net have got it going on: look at the Ghent altarpiece in 100 billion pixels.) And it seems Tristram Hunt’s position on the subject got more than one person’s dander up.
Writing in the New York Times, journalist James Gleick mentions Hunt’s snit, and says, “It’s a mistake to deprecate digital images just because they are suddenly everywhere, reproduced so effortlessly. We’re in the habit of associating value with scarcity, but the digital world unlinks them.”
A discussion of that statement is a whole other blog post, but for now you can read what Gleick thinks here. He says the old relics—like this copy of Magna Carta—are only talismans: “The real Magna Carta, the great charter of human rights and liberty, is available free online, where it is safely preserved. It cannot be lost or destroyed.”
To which I would add, sir, the real Magna Carta exists not on paper or online, but in men’s hearts.
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