What will come of the book

January 15, 2008

In working through aspects of this thesis I have come across a fair amount of literature on the future of the printed book. I knew going into this project that I would find such discussions but what is curious to me is our desire to weigh in on such a what if conversation. Yes the book in its printed form has been a fundamental tool to our society since its inception and yes today for the first time in history that which the book offered can now be offered by something else. But this new technology, right now culminating with the Kindle I guess but I have yet to see this new device in action, can it really replace the book? Or rather is this really a conversation worth having. Now I know that I have defended the value of this artistic conversation and in so doing have met many individuals who believe the entire conversation of defining art has no value and ultimately hurts art in our culture, I obviously disagree with that sentiment. But with the discussion over the plight of the book I really see no value. This new medium will create a new art, not a new platform for the same art. So the better question is will the old art die? I don’t think so either, writing has not died out after typing became available, and with that I don’t think print will go out even if this Kindle and its super screen that doesn’t strain eyes really does work. 

I guess the point of this post is to get that out, I’d rather these authors focus on what makes internet writing unique and new rather than waste time describing it as an improvement to the book. TV is not an improvement to film and VHS did not replace the cinematic experience. But on the flip side I don’t think those comparative arguments work either, because radio I do believe is on the out thanks to the internet and soon TV will follow. 

 But both of these mediums never established themselves like the book did and that may be its saving grace. It is part of our history and its tangibility along with its content is what makes it unique. 


So here I am complaining that this argument is occurring in these texts and by doing that I too am contributing to the discussion. Oh well back to the thesis…




no end

November 14, 2007

In doing some research on the concept of hypertext itself, I have come across another aspect of internet writing that defines it uniquely as a medium. Hypertexting allows for a reader to determine his or her own linear path. This fundamentally changes the way we read, the concept of a linear path in a book is turned on its head. Blogs, I suggest, are the writer’s version of reading hypertext. In maintaining a blog, one does not have to follow any linear path in what they write, they can absolutely choose to, just like a reader can choose to read a blog from its first post to its last. But hypertext in the format of a blog does not force you to interpret the material in that way. We find blogs through different means and rarely read a blog from the first to the last post; instead we read pieces of the threads that interest us and then move on to other blogs or sites that continue the same thread. Thus the artistic experience, the experience that I have defined in another post on how art is defined, is not based on the relationship between the writer and reader, but rather on all the writers (the blog writer, the commentators on that blog, the other blogs and sites linked through hyperlinking) all these make up the artistic experience this one reader has with the “art” of internet writing.

Now there is a reverse argument, that which states that one may choose to read a blog however they want but it is fundamentally organized linearly, ie chronologically. And that is completely true most of the time, but fundamentally we do not look at blogs that way and when visiting a blog you do not see the first post first, rather you see the last post, suggesting a linear pattern in the opposite order, as if one should read the last chapter first of a book and end with the first chapter.

But going back to the hypertext and freedom this creates for the reader we then connect this with the readers ability to add their own content, in their response they can add more links and arguments to the conversation, thus becoming a writer of the same evolving story.

But I titled this with “no end” and that is because there is no end in this format. We can add as many posts as we want, same with comments, and even when a blog goes idle and the writer stops adding, that doesn’t mean the artistic piece ends, because for as long as that blog exists, readers can add. Thus these are works of art that will never end and always evolve.