Saturday, June 20, 2009

in the air somewhere

in the air somewhere
Originally uploaded by suttonhoo
"It's distracting; it's meaningless; it's not real.
It's in the air somewhere."

Ray Bradbury on the Internet in this morning's
New York Times, which reports on his admirable
defense of public libraries.

But, as someone who makes her living "in the air
somewhere" (and is also a great lover of books)
I'm left to wonder once again how the Internet
became positioned in binary opposition to the paper
artifact; how databases are assumed to be
reasonable replacements for the hard tackle
artifact of the book stack.

They are not.

Nor are digital books suitable replacements for
IRL books. Doctorow got it right in *Content* --
the digital copy is for sampling, it's not any kind
of equivalent for the real thing, but it's an essential
and vital tool for reaching audiences and
facilitating discovery.

Positioning digital as a rival and replacement to
print digs a big huge cultural hole in which whole
histories can be lost because of technological
deprecation over time. We need to drop this alpha
dog thinking and content ourselves with a world
where each method of delivery plays its ever
essential and always important role.

Posting by cameraphone from The Market at
Larimer Square, Denver, stoked by espresso and
a blueberry bran muffin the size of my head (to
persist a theme). Apologies for any funky

Here's that NYT story link (hope it doesn't truncate):;jsessionid=9B688E6E648EC8C942F...


Rick OBrien said...

Since the creation of microfilm in WWII, there have been predictions about various technologies replacing printed words and pictures on paper. Since we have the sense of touch we will naturally prefer material for our eyes that we can touch and feel. Period. Would you like to eat without your sense of smell?

Explaining this phenomenon, like writing about music, is just another futile exercise like dancing about architecture.

Sorry Ray, but reading a leather-bound book by the seaside while sipping a fine cognac and listening to a violin somewhere in the distance amidst the crashing waves beats reading a PDF from the Internet or even holding a Kindle, hands down.

Michael said...

Check out some of the writings of Nicholson Baker. He is pretty outspoken on the subject and in particular the demise of Libraries and card catalogs. He makes a pretty good argument for the fact that data is lost in the process of switching over from card catalogs to the electronic version. He also contends that a particular type of data will never more be collected in a similar fashion (once the catalogs are gone).

mrtn said...

Ms. Hoo, the man in question is 88 and sorta kinda behind the times. Hardly worth picking a fight with, especially when he's helping libraries out. ;-) Almost used his quote as a short piece in my newspaper yesterday.

suttonhoo said...

I would never pick on Mr. Bradbury -- I'm one of his biggest fans. His short stories rank among my favorite reads *ever*.

I just used the poor man to springboard into one of my pet peeves.

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