It was said that technology is a threat to the printed book and that the era of the readable book has ended. Is it really possible for the mind to be threatened by a less developed mind?! Or is the real danger to the book is the mindless?
In the past, barbaric wars were the number one enemy of books, as mass incinerations were held for the world’s most famous libraries to confirm the victory of the victor, and obliterate people’s memory.
Today, we are witnessing similar behavior by some savages of haters against Islam who burn the holy Qurans out of ignorance that many Muslims are Qurans walking on the ground and memorizing the Holy Quran by heart. Can the enemies of the books shake his throne?
Now, there is a coming wave of advanced technologies represented in artificial intelligence, metaverse, and fifth generation technology.. This wave comes in light of fears of economic collapse and famine threatening humanity in the future, according to some pessimistic studies. Will the printed book become a burden that is gradually eliminated in favor of the e-book?
Book executions throughout history
Wars and barbaric and immoral conflicts witnessed deliberate targeting of the cultural heritage of nations by burning books and huge libraries that collect various earth sciences. This has been repeated many times in human history since BC; As happened from the burning of the library of Ashurbanipal in 612 BC and the burning of the Persepolis library in 330 BC, and the most famous of them is what happened from the burning of the Great Library of Alexandria in 48 BC at the hands of Julius Caesar.
The Mongols did the worst and the worst. On the way to their invasion of the countries of the world, they exterminated everything that was civilized, including books. Books inks inside the running river!
The Crusades burned dozens of major libraries on their way to Jerusalem, and considered such a heinous act a kind of approach to God!
And such happened when Andalusia fell into the grip of the Motorists.
war against reading
The ancient conquerors were aware of the fact that getting rid of books by burning, dumping, execution and confiscation does not stop the flow of ideas and their continuation, perhaps in a stronger and more solid way than before. What made them take a different approach through which they deliberately confront ideas with counter ideas, or falsify them by inserting what is false in them, or confront ideas with images and visuals in a variety of ways known as intellectual invasion. From sound thoughts to replace them with misleading thoughts.
Such a malicious method was able to do what wars and holocausts could not. Through it, it was possible to distort beliefs, falsify history, spread extremism and subjugate nations.
Television, cinema, satellite channels, and social media are now stealers of eyes and minds. There is no time to read a book, even for one hour every day, but all the time is available to stay in front of movies, programs, advertisements, and songs for hours longer than sleeping hours! That is the biggest challenge facing the printed book today.
According to some recent studies, the Arabs read only rarely, if they do, and that the average number of reading hours they have is between five hundred and six hundred minutes per month, which is equivalent to about ten pages per year, most of which are for reading newspapers and magazines! And that the books that are printed annually, when compared to the number of Arabs in the Arab world, is equivalent to one book for every 12,000 Arabs! On the other hand, Western countries that export the culture of images and visuals have different figures for the number of publications and books and the extent of their spread among the public in parks, means of transportation, and even in prisons. They urge us to consume their biased culture, and they preserve their cultural identity by which they guarantee a lasting civilizational supremacy!
The alleged war between the digital book and the printed book is in favor of the printed book and turns it in reality into a treasure, masterpiece and heritage that the people of today are keen to acquire, for fear that its production will decrease tomorrow.
There are many seminars, lectures and debates that explained the dangers facing printed books due to their high cost and need for writing, printing, distribution, transportation and storage services, and the possibility of their exposure to damage.
While the e-book, on the contrary, is cheap, long-lived, and has little need for services, thousands of it can be stored in a small electronic memory. On the other hand, traditional publishers defend their profession by saying that traditional book lovers cannot do without the magic of a paper book, and that boring e-reading cannot be compared to live and enjoyable reading of a book that you love and accompany and enjoy its look and feel.
Such a state of confrontation does not raise fears or doubts about the loss of knowledge itself, because the difference between a paper book and an electronic book is just a difference in means and formalities, not a difference in substance. Just as writing on stone evolved into bones, wood, and leather, then into parchment and paper, and just as writing by hand developed into manual printing and then mechanical printing. Public and private libraries will turn into a new type of heritage museum, and the acquisition of printed books will become a kind of luxury that only wealthy people possess.. Printed books will then turn into real treasures!!
Media and publishing.. with artificial intelligence
The latest experimental writing and publishing trends are ChatGBT technology developed by Open AI by training artificial intelligence using text databases of various sources including books, magazines and Wikipedia texts, so that 300 billion words have been entered into the memory of the electronic mind for the purpose of re-presenting it in Any image you ask for.. Thus, GPT Chat can, upon request, draft for you a complex text that looks as if it was written by professionals… whether this text is scientific, literary or journalistic, which may open the door to dispensing with a large sector of labor in Writing fields of all kinds, including research and academic writing, especially publishing, journalism and media! Indeed, the capabilities of such a form of artificial intelligence reach the extent of the possibility of reproducing the method of ancient great writers, as if we find novels by Naguib Mahfouz that he never wrote! If such enormous abilities in writing were generated by artificial intelligence while it was still a young boy, then what do we think if it matured and developed more?!
The most important question in our case is: How do we cross that gap between cognitive, cultural and technical illiteracy and an intellectual invasion that has corrupted the Arab mind to jump into a coming era in which the form of culture differs from what it is now?!