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Old 03-18-2016   #18
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Re: Print vs. EBooks

Quote Originally Posted by qcrisp View Post
One thing I dislike about much of what has happened in the past ten years (in the publishing and writing scenes) is the shift of emphasis from literature as a sanctuary from the world, to literature as just another colony of the allied forces of consumerism and technology (in other words, literature is pushed to the periphery of its own world). For the most part, literature is not shoved in anyone's face. Technology, routinely, is.
Have you seen the following? It's worth reading (which I just did myself -- digitally).

Quote
The novel is, and has always been, a moving target. Once a popular idea about its inner nature or social function takes root, some novelists at least can be relied upon to resist it. The choice of monologue over character perspective, or self-display over empathic connection, is such a refusal. It imagines a different task than the one implied by Rorty’s theory of the novel, of providing communitarian glue, of encouraging the comforting acceptance of difference. Instead, it imagines teaching us how to be separate. We read alone, our received story goes, in order to conjure up what others are like and to soothe our isolation. But if we are not isolated? If we are now relentlessly connected, every marginal identity gaining collective recognition, becoming assimilated, ever more rapidly? If that is where we stand, then something like a stubbornly solitary voice may be welcome, even necessary, telling us that what it means to be human—and what may keep us human—is to feel alone in a strange room, with our seclusion the thing that defines and can save us.

-- "The New Fiction of Solitude," The Atlantic, April 2016

On the subject of ebooks vs. paper books when it comes to the relative durability of the medium, my own thoughts have been influenced by Richard Heinberg's cogent reflections on the matter as it relates to the broad subject of cultural transmission and preservation:

Quote
Ultimately the entire project of digitized cultural preservation depends on one thing: electricity. As soon as the power goes off, access to the Internet goes down. CDs and DVDs become meaningless plastic disks; e-books become inscrutable and useless; digital archives become as illegible as cuneiform tablets—or more so. Altogether, digitization represents a huge bet on society’s ability to keep the lights on forever.

Without precious kilowatts, what would survive? Sculpture and architecture would persist. Previous generations of sound and visual media might be decipherable: old phonograph records could still be made to emit music, given a hand crank, needle, and megaphone, and silent films would be relatively easy to show. Books and collections of physical newspapers and magazines would fare reasonably well for a few decades, but deteriorating acid-laden paper threatens the survival of about 85 percent of books and nearly 100 percent of newspapers and magazines (ancient books written on parchment and acid-free paper could last many more centuries).

It’s ironic to think that the cave paintings of Lascaux may be far more durable than the photos from the Hubble space telescope.

Altogether, if the lights were to go out now, in just a century or two the vast majority of our recently recorded knowledge would be gone or inaccessible. . . .

[F]or librarians the message could not be clearer: Don’t let books die. It’s understandable that librarians spend much effort trying to keep up with the digital revolution in information storage and retrieval: their main duty is to serve their community as it is, not a community that existed decades ago or one that may exist decades hence. Yet the thought that they may be making the materials they are trying to preserve ever more vulnerable to loss should be cause for pause.


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