“One might say that users of the World Wide Web today resemble the students in an art history lecture who sit facing a screen and consuming slides of prints of paintings as if they were the actual paintings themselves”(Gitelman 26).
Gitelman makes this analogy after she discusses that the “least recently modified” webpage is in fact different than it used to be, because although the title of the page is the same, its location and thus place in the world wide web has changed, making it almost entirely something different. While the paintings shown in an art history lecture are merely pictures of the paintings, they still retain a quality of being those pictures. The internet is quite unique, however, in that it is constantly changing, adapting, and modifying itself, making the identity of the “least recently modified web page” not necessarily valid. This web page by CERN was meant for the Internet, but the New York Times articles were not meant to be .pdf files. In a sense, as Gitelman writes, the Times pages on the computer are “distilled: they are scans of films of pages” (124). I began to think about eBooks, the Kindle, and various other electronic book readers, and how it might apply to this analogy. While the words of the text are identical on the electronic reader, it is still quite something different, in that they are simply scans or digital versions of the book. In this case it is a fine substitute, unnoticed by the reader; yet still, similar to the pictures of paintings at the art history class, it is “presented in ways that ignore or elide the physical” (126).