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The Battle Of Print Versus Digital

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You have been running in this epic race for a very long time, almost since the beginning. Your exhaustion knows no bounds. And now, the semester is about to come to its logical end. Besides that truckload of syllabus already parked in your backyard, there are copious, unread notes, essays and diagrams still crowding the room. Even in those few precious moments before the exams, when your finish line is in plain sight, there is a ton of study material to skim through. It is at these moments that an ancient debate (one involving all teachers and parents) spurs back to life—should you get everything photocopied or download the pdf versions on your phone?

The age of the internet and free wi-fi is here, people and it has got all the students and teachers hooked on to its wireless universe. Random study guides can only take you so far in this era. Education at the university level has itself transformed, especially for the social sciences, where it is impossible for many students to ‘learn’ without Google’s help. “In our college library, one can never find a book in its proper place. Who has the time to scan through all those shelves for one book? I’d rather look for material online,” says a source who would prefer to remain unnamed. There are many who choose the easier, quicker path by downloading books, essays and videos in the digital format.

It is a natural human instinct to fall for freebies. Who wouldn’t be attracted to the prospect of downloading a free pdf instead of splurging five hundred bucks on a book? Many see curriculum books as a waste of money.

But joining in the debate from the other side too are scholars and students who still root for the old-school tradition of libraries and hard copies. “Staring at the screen for a long time causes me a headache,” is their primary slogan. They treasure the ‘feel’ of books instead of intangible pdfs. In fact, if bad comes to worse, they would rather get their notes photocopied than strain their eyes over screenshots and countless pictures on the phone.

And thus the endless battle continues. One side argues for moving on with the times, using free internet resources to save up on (already low) student money. The other side believes that books never went out of style. They would rather get their photocopies and mark important lines using pens, highlighters and pencils—something a pdf does not allow. Even as this debate rages on, it must make us ponder why photocopy shops in DU still make profits despite websites offering free material. In fact, can the internet indeed be a better alternative for explanation than study guides? It should make us think, essentially, how a 21st century college student functions today. Time will be a testament to whether that is a good direction to follow or not.


Featured Image Credits:

Deepannita Misra

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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