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They will have a different job from the job we have always attributed to words, we the text snobs who claim we would make everybody a word afficionado but who may secretly shudder at the prospect. As Bill Gates says in his new book, The Road Ahead,  "The exciting aspect of digital documentation is the redefinition of the document itself," but that may not be so exciting to those of us who have made a career using the current definition of "document," thank you very much. As Gates says laconically, "This will cause dramatic repercussions."

The Internet will not make everyone literate in the English major sense; it will make everyone literate in a new sense, one that may not please English majors. This is why one can claim a "new, living, breathing culture of letters" brought on by the Internet and not necessarily sound optimistic, although one can hardly claim such a thing without sounding interested. We, the text snobs, the English majors, will not be validated by the Internet, and in fact we may be buried by it if we don't start working very hard to understand what it is, and most importantly, the new literacy it will confirm.

The "knowledge domain" that will form the core of our discipline will soon exist primarily in electronic form and will be fed by increasingly less "managed" sources. As such it will be much more responsive to the new electronic literacies that will inform society at large, but it will be increasingly less recognizable to those of us academically trained under the restrictions/blessings of print literacy. The ACW and Kairos   and other Internet "agents" (the old word "publications" hardly fits) must come to two understandings, and rather quickly:

Will "formal" learning be pulled from its traditional enclaves, the classroom and the school, and blend somehow with one's daily activities, growing at the same time both invisible but significantly more influential societally? Like the old science fiction "knowledge pill," effortless knowing?

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