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The E-Sylum:  Volume 9, Number 9, February 26, 2006, Article 27

ON ELECTRONIC BOOKS AND NUMISMATIC ANNOTATIONS

Michael E. Marotta writes: "Electronic books" need time to
mature and develop.  The ILIAD and ODYSSEY were memorized and
recited.  There is an upper limit to how effective that can be.
Yet, as powerful as writing is, memory remains important.

I am working on a degree in criminal justice and I have a
class in college algebra which is calculator-based.  We use
the same TI-83 (or 89) boxes at Washtenaw Community College
in Ann Arbor that my daughter uses in her classes at Miami-Dade.
I did not buy a calculator.  Unlike these kids, I had 5 1/2
years of high school algebra in four years of high school.
The instructor recommended that I get a $10 button box just
in case I have not memorized all the square roots between 1
and 100.  We just finished a section on linear regression
(fitting a line to a set of points) and the kids only know
how to press buttons: they do not know the formula or where
it comes from.  I looked it up, learned it and understood it
well enough to explain it to the instructor after class.  On
the test, I only got partial credit for that problem because
I could not do the arithmetic fast enough by hand, and had to
let the problem go before time ran out.  So, there are always
trade-offs.

Last semester, I took a class in symbolic logic for a philosophy
requirement.  It was all electronic, online, including the tests.
This semester, our math book had some wrong answers in the back
and that cause a bit of anxiety -- but we got it straightened out.
The symbolic logic e-book also had a few bugs and glitches, but
being software, they were manifested as failures in the operation
of the program.  Those failures had consequences in the grading
-- which was also electronic.

This term, I am taking a class in criminal investigations and
our textbook comes with a CD-ROM of supplemental materials.
The CD also has the same short-comings as the e-book in symbolic
logic: a "typo" causes an operations failure.  Imagine a book
that does not let you read page 32 until you have read page 31
-- or paragraph 2 on page 394.

If print were to be as expressive as the spoken word, the result
would be a typographic nightmare, IMHO (:-), with dozens of fonts
and styles in play to mimic our gestures and gesticulations.  No
combination of (;-) (:-) (;-) waggles an eyebrow as well as I
do in person.  *Print* _does_ have ^many^ "advantages" over the
SPOKEN word, =BUT=  is not one of them (!).  So, too,
does electronic communication offer more power in some modes and
less in others.

On February 12, at the Lansing Coin Club show, numismatist Paul
Manderscheid (oftentimes president of the Michigan Token and
Medal Society) told me that there are some books he would never
dream of making a mark in, such as the BREEN ENCYCLOPEDIA.  I
replied that I had felt that way until I saw the polite penciling
in the Coin World Library copy and I made the same notes in my
own.  Paul then said that his copy of MICHIGAN TRADE TOKENS by
Paul Cunningham is highlighted and underlined many ways to show
quickly the topics across locales.  Manderscheid said that when
Cunningham saw his work marked up he quipped that if he had
intended a coloring book, he would have included crayons."

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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