The Death of the Document

“The Death of the Document” Program for Cooperative Cataloging, American Library Association Annual Conference, Chicago, IL.

Abstract: When a book becomes an ebook it looses more than simply its physical binding – it looses hard boundaries that separate the content of the book from its use. Online journals are not simply pictures of a traditional journal on a screen, but rather the foundations of intellectual communities. While today we hold on to terms such as book, journal, magazine and simply affix “e” to them, in truth, these terms of simply metaphors, an echo of an earlier analog reality. Online narratives, theses, and “how-to’s” become living documents bound closer to a multitude of contexts that defy traditional notions of information organization, already strained to the breaking point of scale. What is needed is a new approach to organizing knowledge, one based on context that occurs in the space between artifacts.