Friday, October 27, 2006

Virtual or Physical?



I was in the university main library’s stack today and thinking about the size of all the printed materials which are out there. We may have all these materials stored in electronic format some day in future. However, whatever we called it such as electronic resources or virtual libraries or whatever, it is still physical! In fact, imagine once we reproduce all of these printed materials in the electrical format, but at the end the hardware that contains these resources are physical. In fact, in an ideal world all resources of a big library can be converted into electronic materials which of course require much smaller place but at the end of the day this is still physical and not totally virtual and we need physical devices to get access to them. Of course, I have not forgotten other important issues like remote access, multiple users, one copy for the whole world and things like that. What I am trying to say is whatever we have in the virtual environment like electronic materials, or like this weblog that you are reading are somehow physical but in a different size and with different features. Perhaps you think this is too obvious to explain, but we sometimes get overexcited about the virtual world and forget the virtual world is still physical.