Some gristle from Print is Dead, Gomez

April 18, 2008 at 1:32 pm Leave a comment

Print is Dead: Books in our Digital Age, Gomez


Not only about books, but about the growing pains of everything becoming digital, the book covers many different industries and points out the pros and cons of this changing marketplace.  The author drops the names of at least a hundred books spanning traditional classics to science fiction; some good suggestions for what to read next.


P13.9 “In many ways…we have already moved beyond the book….the sales of books and other printed matter, for centuries the center of cultural memory, now have fallen to fourth position behind the sales of television, cinema, and video games.”


P18.2 BOOK can be taken as an acronym standing for Box of Organized Knowledge.


P23.7…even the most rudimentary electronic reading experience offers more features and overall utility than a print book does.  So to make the argument that books are a great technology (and don’t crash and don’t lose data, etc.) is the supreme kind of silliness…books are indeed primarily the information they contain….


P43.6  Five hundred years ago , when books were first introduced, they were greeted with the same level of skepticism that digital reading is facing today.  Gutenberg’s bibles…were not welcomed with open arms or eager hands….’medieval clerics greeted printed books as imposters of illuminated manuscripts – aesthetically inferior, textually unreliable and likely to breed a dangerous diversity of opinion.’  I read about the disruptive influence of the printing press in another book…?


P52.9  “I almost expected to see steam coming off the guy’s coal-powered jetpack”

Gomez described how people are getting news on their computer screen vs. traditional newspapers….  Tufte points out that newsprint and books have superior resolution compared to computer screen, e.g. data per pixel.


P58.5 mentioning the loss of book reviews published in newspapers, Gomes points out that these discussions are happening online…but doesn’t mention Amazon here?  I think that a good example of the amateur-reviewer?

P78.1 “Richtel also discussed a condition known as ‘acquired attention deficit disorder,’ which is used to describe the condition of people who are accustomed to a constant stream of digital stimulation and feel bored in the absence of it.”  Digital natives?


P95.2 machinima Red vs. Blue episodes.


P97.2 Tapscott, Growing up Digital


P109.2 Davenport and Beck, The attention Economy.  What’s in short supply is human attention.  Telecommunication bandwidth is not a problem, but human bandwidth is.


P110.9  “While ordering something on Amazon and paying for overnight shipping is almost an on demand environment, it’s not the same thing as getting a recommendation on a band, heading to iTunes, and downloading three of their songs with three clicks of  a mouse….75% of users shopping on the Internet won’t return to a website if it takes more than four seconds to load, twenty-four hours is an eternity.”  Bezos must have read this book and decided to start work on the Kindle!


P114.2  2006 Who album?  Really?


P124.6 …when ebooks contain no searches or hyperlinks…’…it’s significantly easier to find information in a paper book than in its digital equivalent.’


P125 book – Gravity’s Rainbow.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.


P141.6 long form literary hypertext, Michael Joyce’s Afternoon: a story


P143 mentions Choose your Own Adventure books….then purposes neo-book-like things: what if users could shuffle the chapters (like in ‘The Perfect Thing’) of books and make their own literary remixes.  Or else authors could provide alternative edits or versions of their books, one version featuring an emphasis on one character while a change in the setting would make yet another character the protagonist.  [Or.  Other people could make edits and versions and annotations and links to other things.  You could re-write a complex course book using simpler language for younger students, you could provide links to dissenting opinions…]


P146.2 Time’s Arrow, Amis


P187.6 Five reasons publishers will still exist in a digital age.  1. Find talent – with millions online, finding anything worth consuming is getting more difficult.  [enter Hunter’s mentat, and remember the Cult of the Amateur]


P196.3 Books represent an old fashioned way of doing things…A sci-fi film would never have a scene with someone reading a book…somewhere in this book he said something like there’s not a great example of what a great ebook could be like….I don’t see it here, but The Diamond Age is an obvious counter-argument to that statement.


Gomez convinces me that ebooks are coming, and will be great, but we’ve got a long road ahead before they’re useful.  If they’re too constrained by copyright, that will screw up linking, and if they don’t have useful search and bookmarking and annotation features, than why bother?  I still can’t get over the idea though that a single handheld device, even though it can hold thousands of books, will never be as useful or as practical as laying out all the books and papers you need within hands reach on your desk while working on a task.  How to comparing texts side by side?  Anyone who tries to fiddle with multiple windows on a typical computer desktop knows that it’s a pain to get each application to show the pertinent information in its little window and manipulate things so you can compare information.  And once you finally get it right, it’s a one time deal, and the next time you need to do it all over again (as discussed in Personal Information Management).  I’m thinking that ‘virtual reality’ will end up being the ebook where text and feeds you want to read will be projected on any surface while you use your specs, like Manfred Macx in Stross’ Accelerando, or wear-comp, ala Vinge’s Rainbows End, or  whatever allowed ‘the feeds’ to show up on the walls and tables in Cory Doctorow’s Human Readable.  In particular Vinge’s description of wear-comp enhanced reality seems the most useful where different layers of information are overlaid on ‘real’ reality.


Entry filed under: feed my pet brain, NeoBook.

The Humble List Personal Notes from Personal Information Management

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