Well… I’m not surprised it’s confusing… it’s a thinkpiece not a finished argument. I very much appreciate the feedback from folks like you that help make the argument better.
There are lots of things that have been written down that have done wonderful things for lots of people. It was an incredibly useful way of allowing us to replicate processes exactly. That’s great. Superuseful like in circumstances like the double ledger example that you mention.
A quick wander through the comments here are pretty representative of the feedback i tend to get on this like this… or the “books is making us stupid” piece i did a couple of years ago. For some people it seems to speak to their own intuition that content is about power and replication and that this restricts us in some way. For others, content is a journey towards or to (depending on your inclination) perfection. Getting it explained right in the best possible way.
It’s interesting to me how you found something so close to capitalism (double entry ledgers) to describe value in content. That’s one of the things that concerns me about the word… the commodification of ideas into things that ‘are’ rather than things that are connected to people.
Texts certainly changed the world. In some very valuable ways – as you described. The textbook described (not all textbooks all the time) is one of the first places that i have seen the purposeful de-professionalization of the educator for the purposes of scale. A move from “i’m going to pass on my knowing” to “there’s this content you need to get to”. If you look at the government schools in England in the 1870s (the ones for poor people, not the rich ones) you see ‘reach this objective, reach this objective and you can go into the factories’. I think we now ‘believe’ that there is a ‘content’ that should be covered for ‘schooling’. I think we got that idea from print. When you separate the story, decontextualize it, from the human.