Digital notes

September 15, 2006 at 1:03 pm Leave a comment

More notes from Being Digital by Nicholas Negroponte

p.13 regarding books and replacing books with digital versions: “Right now it is hard, if not impossible, to compete with the qualities of a printed book.  A book has a high-contrast display, is lightweight, easy to ‘thumb’ through, and not very expensive.  But…45% of the cost is inventory, shipping…and a book can go out of print.  Digital books never go out of print.”

I was thinking about how Kurzweil mentions CDs are the real replacement for the vinyl record, not audio cassettes which were the false pretenders, or how e-books are false pretender replacements for “real books.”  Really, I think CDs are pretenders too, as evidenced every time I throw away a scratched disc.  Instead I think solid state storage like USB drives in MP3 players are the true replacement technology.

p.29 This is true of almost any new medium in the hands of a beginner.  Beginners don’t understand “Less is More….”  There really are some natural laws of bandwidth that suggest that squirting more bits at somebody is no more sensible or logical than turning up a radio’s volume to get more information.

p.37 In ch.3 Bitcasting (predating podcasts!) Negroponte relates that research directed at the advance of television is aimed precisely at refining the display as opposed to the artistry of content.

p.40 Nice quote: “Saving face, I fear, is to have two of them.”

p.56 Discussing newspapers, the entire conception and construction of the newspaper is digital, from beginning to end, until the very last step, where ink is squirted onto dead trees.  This is where bits become atoms.  Now…imagine that the bits are delivered to you as bits.  You can FAB your own newspaper if you desire.

p.69 While a book may be randomly accessible and your eyes may browse quite haphazardly, it is nonetheless forever fixed by the confines of three dimensions.  In the digital world, this is not the case.  information space is by no means limited to three dimensions.  An expression of an idea or train of thought can include a multidimensional network of pointers to further elaborations or arguments, which can be invoked or ignored.  The structure of text should be imagined like a complex molecular model.  Chunks of information can be reordered, sentences expanded, and words given definitions on the spot.  These linkages can be embedded either by the author at “publishing” time or later by readers over time.

This is a more elegant description of the NeoBook concepts I’ve been imagining.

p.71 Today multimedia is a desktop or living room experience, because the apparatus is so clunky…do not lend themselves to being very personal information appliances.  This will change….

The medium is not the message in a digital world.  It is an embodiment of it.  A message might have several embodiments automatically derivable from the same data….These same bits can be looked at by the viewer from many perspectives.

p. 85 The information industry will become more of a boutique business.  Its marketplace is the global information highway.  This sounds a lot like ‘Long Tail.’

p.95 Find Licklider “Man-Computer Symbiosis” and the term narrowcasting.  Huh, looks like an interesting site,


Entry filed under: being digital.

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