bookcaseIrregular tapping rhythms fill the gaps in the silence.

Old-fashioned it may seem but I do enjoy using the old style hardware with raised keys over the the flat, projected displays or voice controls that fellow academics use. I am soothed by the sounds, the taps provide a counterpoint to the ideas swirling around in my head.

Researching Old Earth is fascinating. Much of the physical is lost but digital is forever pristine and searchable. My current thesis is family life in the early 21st Century; a time when technology abounded but many people still stuck to the old ways. A curious dichotomy to investigate.

This picture catches my eye. At some point someone took a photograph of their bookcase and uploaded it to the internet. The why is unfathomable, the what is intriguing.

Rows of physical books, lined up on the shelves. Only the spines a clue as to their internal words. How I long to touch them. Books were almost the last thing to become fully digital, unlike music, photography and films. Even when the majority of books were purchased as e-versions the publishers realised they had a niche market and turned from mass-production to specialised limited editions with gorgeous hardback covers and high quality illustrations. For a special price too of course.

I long to stroke my fingers down the spines of these books on the screen before me. Run my fingers over the creases which tell of a much loved and well read book. Trace the images that I can just make out. Frustration. Spines only give so much away. Only by separating a book from its place amongst its brethren can you truly live the experience.

My fingers seem to feel the ghost touch of dry paper, my nostrils to inhale the faint scent of old ink and twitch at the thought of aeons of dust floating upwards as I turn the pages. How many fingers have turned these pages? How many minds were fortunate to explore the contents – transported to realms that only imagination can reach?

What words are printed on the pages? Some I could probably find in digital, but others … others are lost, fading into the shadows of time.

Curiosity impels me to consider why and how the owner selected this collection? Were they gifts, inherited from a previous generation, bought on impulse – all things I shall never know. Some appear to be textbooks, history textbooks. This person was a fellow historian perhaps, researching their past as I now research mine. Did they think as they worked that one day part of their life would be part of my future thesis? Did they regard their life as mundane as I do mine. Will future historians find an imprint of my life to study, will they find it fascinating?

History is constantly being created. Not only the big huge world impacts but the little things that people do. How they feel, what they think. Should we all consider that a fragment of our lives may be of interest to the future, and if it is found what information would our future extrapolate from it?