“One professor from MIT reports a new technology, a ‘book’ made of electronic paper which needs only to be plugged in and charged up with a text downloaded.” So wrote Michael Fahey, SJ, the late editor in chief of Theological Studies, in his December 1997 column.
Those electronic pages have long ceased to be a wondrous oddity and are now a normal feature of how most of us read and research. My suspicion is that the technology has impacted not only the platform that scholars use to read but also how they access texts—researchers often do targeted keyword searches and are less likely to simply stumble upon articles (or editors’ columns!) by flipping through whatever scholarly journal has arrived in the mail. If so, what could justify that extra, annoying click now required to access the column—especially given the information noise confronting us all? Does the editor’s column still have a role in this new research world?