Sometime in the late 15th century someone must have said “Now Gutenberg has invented the printing press, the university lecture is doomed”. Before books, the lecture was an incredibly efficient delivery system, The Guardian reports. Someone in a cassock, reading at dictation pace to rows of younger, equally cassock-clad men, was the best way of spreading the word. But in the age of printing, why bother? Yet the lecture survived the book. It survived the cassette recorder, although students did occasionally record their lectures, as I did once as an undergraduate. Sadly, I fell asleep at exactly the same place in the re-run as I did in the lecture. I predicted the end of the live lecture when VHS tape became popular. Who would want to hear me when they could watch a tape of the great contemporary philosophers such as Bernard Williams or Philippa Foot? With a heavy heart, I bought a series of video recordings of philosophy lectures for the departmental library. As far as I know no one even borrowed the tapes, and 10 years later we chucked them out to make room for more books.

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