Printed books freeze the Zeitgeist

I came across this interesting criticism of a project to continually update a 1907 dictionary in a new online edition:

More importantly, and this is my real issue, the online-only presence of The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology means that we lose Zeitgeist, an important historical insight that we won’t see for decades, perhaps centuries down the line. … Being cast in stone, printed resources provide future generations with a specific snapshot of a specific age. An online-only, “ever new” resource lacks that tangibility, and with it we lose a mirror into our present-day cultural construct.

I appreciate how authoritative ‘a book published in year‘ is as a statement of exactly what people believed or knew at a point in history. This is an interesting thought about one of the (few) disadvantages of always-up-to-date content. Thankfully, we have the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

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