A very impressive example of the power of digitisation to support ‘book culture’ comes from the creation of the digital version of the Codex Siniaticus, the earliest version of the Christian Bible, dating from the fourth century. No complete version of the original parchment manuscript exists anywhere; the 800 pages are scattered in museums and libraries throughout the world. Now, thanks to a collaboration between between institutions in Britain, Egypt, Germany and Russia, a digital version of all the existing pages and page fragments has been created. The quality is sufficiently good that edits and changes to the manuscript over time can be followed.
A very nice example of the creation of digital information to create something which could realistically not have been realised in physical form (although it’s still reassuring to know that the physical manuscript is still there). At a time when many commentators are seeing a turning away from digital, and back to real things – see for instance a recent article in the London Evening Standard “Enough of digital fun, we want the real thing now” – this is an example of the good side of digital.