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Re: The end of books
- To: BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
- Subject: Re: The end of books
- From: Thomas Larque <thomas_larque@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 16 Apr 1998 17:59:47 +0100
- Message-id: <199804161702.KAA20810@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.edu>
- Sender: "Book_Arts-L: On the web at http://www.dreamscape.com/pdverhey" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
> All this talk of books becoming antiquated, reminds me of George Orwell's
> book "1984" ... He hasn't written anything for so long that his hand
writing is jerky and > he's afraid to ruin the paper but perseveres....
> God help us if we come to that!
I hate to say it, but - to a large extent - I already have. With the
exception of notes, signatures, and labelling I can't remember writing a
full document - an essay, or a full length personal letter, for example -
with a pen for about five years.
The pen may not be obsolete, but it has lost most of its functions over the
past centuries. It used to be the primary form of information storage and
communication between distant individuals. Now most people speak to other
people over the phone, and if we do send written words, many of us send them
as E-Mails, or write letters with a keyboard.
The arrival of the printing press knocked the pen from its place in the
production of books, and the mass distribution of knowledge. The typewriter
removed it from most business communications. The telephone has usurped its
position in almost every home, and the Word-Processor is coming in to mop up
some of the remaining functions as we write (without pens).
The pen will no doubt last a good while yet, but it already has only a pale
shadow of its former glory. When those of us who grew up when computers
were a 16K novelty die out, and our descendents - who will be playing on
computers almost from birth - replace us, the pen will suffer yet another
reversal in its fortunes.
So far the book has managed to hold its ground against technology much more
firmly than the pen has. And the steady decline of the once all-powerful
pen is hardly an encouraging sign for the long-term future of the book.