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Re: Digital Books (Was "Digital Dark Age")

From: Barbara Harman <

>In a message dated 2/15/99 8:18:33 AM, you wrote:
(Peter Verheyen)
><<Since we're on the subject of digital technologies, how do all of you
>about the uses of hypertext and purely digital books, ie created and
>viewable only in a digital media.>>
>My response to this is that, like computers themselves, they are inherently
>classist (and, by extension, often racist). Fine, if your intended audiance
>small, highly educated and relatively rich; not so great if you desire to
>communicate with a large and diverse populace.


I honestly can't understand how you can say this. A very respectable
computer costs under $1,000 these days, and the used market is in the low
hundreds. Many libraries have free computers with internet access, internet
access cost from free (freenets) to perhaps $40/mnth for high speed cable

Five years ago the only people on the internet were university people and
professionals. Today its everybody. Two years ago, my carpenter cousin told
me he was chatting about his favorite web sites with another carpenter while
shingling a roof. Its much more widespread today.

I think there are few things more subversive than computers. Think of mp3
music files and the effect they will have on the music industry. Consider
Linux, a free operating system created by thousands of programmers that is
actually better than  commercial systems, the gnu public license and
"copyleft" ( the software is free with source code, anything you write with
it must be free with source code...)  . Nothing has given power to the
people like microcomputers.

>, what I have always
>loved about books is their portability and their (relative) democracy.

While a single book is cheap to buy, books are expensive to make, require
expensive machinery and skill, and even more to distribute. The internet
allows every voice to speak, and more important, to be heard. Not just those
with several thousand dollars for printing and distribution. It is the first
many to many system in history.

>it is true that even literacy is a class issue  (see "Central Station" the
>film from Brazil, if you question this assertion),

I suspect that you see everything as a class issue; what a pity. I see a
collapse of the class structure as the literacy and skilll requirements for
the skilled trades increase and the corresponding  need for management
declines. I see a more inclusive and less exclusive society.

>it is less so than
>technologies that require even more investment of time and resources. I'm
>there will be rather strong response to my position, and after the current
>heated debate (Peter, I thought the horse was dead a long time ago), I feel
>should apologize in advance to the list. Barbara Harman

No apologies needed, we just agree to disagree.

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