Matthew Fisher is an associate professor of English. He is working on a book about library fires. This column appeared Dec. 1 in Zócalo Public Square.
Copying and syncing digital files is easy now — perhaps too easy. A mere $10 a month buys you identical copies of a digital song on every device and computer you own. Hundreds of millions of people possess billions of copies of songs and movies that are exactly the same, each 0 and 1 of the underlying binary duplicated precisely on hard drives across the world. The notes and annotations we make on our computers and iPhones now sync up, so that the note you “scribble” in the margin or the page corner you virtually turn down on one of your devices appears on the others.