User:ThomasW/Notes PostDigitalPrint

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Ludovico, Alessandro (2013) Post Digital Print, Onomatopee

digital is built for speed, while print ensures stability Page 7

networking’ also becomes synonymous with the ‘sharing’ of cultural products – underexposed or otherwise invisible materials, whether printed or digital. Page 11

media theorists and marketing experts, who attempted in various ways to persuade society at large to get rid of paper, and choose instead some newer and supposedly better medium. This ongoing process seems to have originated in the early 20th century, when the death of paper was predicted – probably for the first time – after centuries of daily use. The development of public electricity networks, which enabled the mass distribution of new and revolutionary media, inspired visions of a radical change in the (still two-dimensional) media landscape, following a fashionable logic of inevitable progress which lives on to this day. Page 16

The journalist Tom Standage, writing in The Economist, went so far as to dub the telegraph “the Victorian Internet”: “The telegraph unleashed the greatest revolution in communications since the development of the printing press”. Page16

Uzanne and Albert Robida in their illustrated story La fin des livres, originally published in France in 1894 in the collection Contes pour les bibliophiles. Uzanne wrote of a future world of publising which would no longer rely on the ‘static’ printed page, delivering instead all content through voice (both live and recorded) using a platform which nowadays would best be described as ‘on demand’. Page 17

Watchmakers, for example, will have designed reliable miniaturised gramophones (= iPods); the required mobile electricity (still an issue in the 21st century) is generated by harnessing the user’s physical movements (one of many contemporary ‘green’ proposals for producing clean energy). The libraries have become “phonographoteques” (= podcast repositories), while bibliophiles are now known as “phonographophiles” (= download addicts). Furthermore, in Uzanne’s vision, the author becomes his own publisher (= customised print on demand), living off the royalties of his works. Page 17

He concludes: “how happy we will be not to have to read any more; to be able finally to close our eyes”. The daily strain on the eyes from devouring news and essays, stories and novels, could at last be avoided as the ears absorbed the information, much faster and almost effortlessly. For Uzanne, the death of print positively meant the end of a tyranny – the liberation from a debilitating slavery of the eyes. Page 18

This is the background against which Bob Brown wrote his manifesto The Readies in 1930. Declaring that “the written word hasn’t kept up with the age”, Brown envisioned a completely new technology for speeding up the reading process, using strips of miniaturised text (instead of pages) scrolling behind a magnifying glass: “A simple reading machine which I can carry or move around, attach to any old electric light plug and read hundred thousand word novels in ten minutes if I want to, and I want to.” Page 19

Wells was a passionate believer in the essential role of the printing press in bringing knowledge to ordinary people; in a 1940 broadcast he discussed the importance of print for democracy, and how the ability to read and write enables us all to become “lords and masters of our fate”. And yet, only three years later (and just three years before his death), during another broadcast he declared the newspaper medium to be 10 “dead as mutton”. He denounced the excessive amount of power concentrated in the hands of an unreliable press and the “prostitution” of the journalistic profession, which made it necessary to buy “three or four newspapers to find out what is being concealed from us”; he also jokingly advocated mass book burnings in order to rid local libraries of low-quality and out-of-date publications. Finally, he predicted that people would soon prefer to receive a constantly updated news summary through their telephones… Page 20-21


‘I live right inside radio when I listen. I more easily lose myself in radio than in a book,’ said a voice from a radio poll.” (Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964) Page 21


Customers seemed to enjoy the ritual of buying the morning (and often also the evening) editions from their favorite newsstands. Page 21

On the first day of the strike, circulation of the Herald Tribune plummeted to 15,000 copies, but after a massive word-of mouth campaign, circulation was back up to 65,000 copies by the last day of the strike, “by far the greater portion of them in direct over the counter sales. The Tribune readers have taken the time and trouble to come far out of their way to get a copy of their favourite morning newspaper”. Page 22

“One of the unexpected effects of TV on the press has been a great increase in the popularity of Time and Newsweek. Quite inexplicably to themselves and without any new effort at subscription, their circulations have more than doubled since TV.” And even more importantly: “If telegraph shortened the sentence, radio shortened the news story, and TV injected the interrogative mood into journalism.” Page 23

McLuhan, the most visionary of mass-media theorists, spent his life analysing media. His famous division of ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ media assigned to print a very low potential for audience participation: “typography as a hot medium involves the reader much less than did manuscript”, while on the other hand “TV as cool media involve(s) the user, as maker and participant, a great deal.”17 He regarded the book as no longer 17 adequate in this new age of speed and electricity, and thus ultimately doomed:“It is the almost total coverage of the globe in time and space that has rendered

--- McLuhan, the most visionary of mass-media theorists, spent his life analyzing media. His famous division of ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ media assigned to print a very low potential for audience participation: “typography as a hot medium involves the reader much less than did manuscript”, while on the other hand “TV as cool media involve(s) the user, as maker and participant, a great deal.”17 He regarded the book as no longer 17 adequate in this new age of speed and electricity, and thus ultimately doomed:“It is the almost total coverage of the globe in time and space that has rendered the book an increasingly obsolete form of communication. The slow movement of the eye along lines of type, the slow procession of items organized by the mind to fit into these endless horizontal columns – these procedures can’t stand up to the pressures of instantaneous coverage of the earth.” Page23

“One of the unexpected effects of TV on the press has been a great increase in the popularity of Time and Newsweek. Quite inexplicably to themselves and without any new effort at subscription, their circulations have more than doubled since TV.” And even more importantly: “If telegraph shortened the sentence, radio shortened the news story, and TV injected the interrogative mood into journalism.” Page24

What’s wrong with paper?. It’s no accident that this is the title of the second chapter of a book by Abigail J. Sellen and Richard H. R. Harper called The Myth of the Paperless Office. Page 24

J.C.R. Licklider in his famous book Libraries of the Future, published in 1965. Licklider sketched a futuristic impression of computer-based technologies (including pen input and speech recognition) combined in order to make information easily searchable, and to overcome the inescapable limitations of paper, mainly its size and weight. Page 25

We can trace the actual expression ‘paperless office’ back to an article titled The Office of the Future, published in Business Week in June 1975. The second section of the article is titled The Paperless Office. Besides predicting how computing giants (IBM and Xerox) would dominate the office market until the end of the century, this section looks into electronic methods of managing information which were expected to reduce, progressively but drastically, the amount of paper used in the working environment. Page 25

Starting in the early 1980s (the beginning of the age of personal information) this ‘paperless’ research-and-development mantra would increasingly become a propaganda buzzword aimed at creating a large target market for selling information technology (IT). Marketing departments actively promoted a vision of massive magnetic archiving systems, destined to replace the huge amounts of messy paper, effectively de-cluttering the desktop once and for all. This meant a definitive shift towards systems of digital documents, existing only in windows on computer screens. Page 26

Starting in the early 1980s (the beginning of the age of personal information) this ‘paperless’ research-and-development mantra would increasingly become a propaganda buzzword aimed at creating a large target market for selling information technology (IT). Marketing departments actively promoted a vision of massive magnetic archiving systems, destined to replace the huge amounts of messy paper, effectively de-cluttering the desktop once and for all. This meant a definitive shift towards systems of digital documents, existing only in windows on computer screens. Page 26


For example in one organization, managers banned the use of personal filing cabinets, only to find that people resorted to using their car or home offices to store their paper files.” In fact, it should be noted that ‘paperless’ has remained a recurring propaganda theme ever since – promising to not only get rid of unwanted stacks of paper, but also (and perhaps more fundamentally) to reclaim physical space. Page 26

“Print documents may be read in hyperspace, but hypertext does not translate into print”,26 and 26 so the endlessly deep narrative space made possible by the hypertext seemed destined to supplant the finite, sequential and closed format of books, eventually making them altogether obsolete. Page 27

“A print encyclopedia qualifies as a hypertext because it has multiple reading paths, a system of extensive cross-refferences that serve as a linking mechanism, and chunked text in entries separated typographically from one another.” Page 29

Actually, paper and pixel seem to have become complementary to each other; print is increasingly the medium of choice for preserving the ‘quintessence’ of the Web. The editor of printed material is the curator, the human filter, the one who decides what should be saved on a stable medium, and what should be left as a message in a bottle tossed into the sea of the Internet. So the printed page, with its sense of unhurried conclusiveness, allows to the reader to pause, to reflect, to take notes, without having to rely on electricity. And paper is also being used to preserve a substantial part of the digital culture, independently of hardware or software, describing the new media from the technical perspective of an old medium. Page 30

Ranters, a radical group which flourished during the second half of the 17th century, with heretical views on religion (if Jesus is in everyone, who needs the Church?), politics (expropriation of the rich and collective ownership of property) and sex (preaching an ideal of free love). Page 32

(The book is the) monument of the future.”43 Lissitzky considered the book as a dynamic object, a “unity of acoustics and optics” that required the viewer’s active involvement. Page35

Another radical Fluxus approach to print was to sell cheaply-made art books at prices usually associated with prestigious collector’s editions. Several Fluxus publishing houses were founded, of which Dick Higgins’ Something Else Press was probably the most well-known, pioneering the artist’s book movement with book editions running anywhere between 1,500 to 5,000 copies and sold at standard bookshop prices. Page 39

The influence of Fluxus on underground print was not long in waiting. For example, Aspen, an experimental “multimedia magazine of the arts” published by Phyllis Johnson from 1965 to 1971 and designed by various contributing artists, featured “culture along with play”: each issue came in a customised box filled with booklets, phonograph recordings, posters, postcards – one issue even included a reel of Super 8 film. Johnson herself was later quoted as saying: “We wanted to get away from the bound magazine format, which is really quite restrictive.” Page40

The Oracle (which peaked at a print run of 150,000 copies) epitomised the idea that a magazine could be more than simply a handful of paper conveying literary and political information. By doing away with the traditional ‘static’ typographical structure, headlines could be designed rather than composed, and texts were no longer laid out as blocks of letters, but were allowed to penetrate the illustrations spread across multiple pages. Page 41

The Whole Earth Catalog’s farewell statement in 1974 was prophetic for future generations of underground publishers: “Stay hungry, stay foolish. Page 43

Also, publications such as Maximumrocknroll’s Book Your Own Fuckin’ Life contained extensive lists of contacts, essential for the survival of nomadic Punk bands, once again exploring the concept of building networks within a ‘scene’ (see also chapter 6.1.2). Page 44


For example, the zine X Ray assembled 226 copies of each issue (usually sold out), while the single-sheet Braincell brought together donated stickers and stamps, using a cheap multicolour home-publishing technique called Print Gocco.6 Page 45

These ‘fakers’ were all applying in a new way Karl Marx’s oftenquoted statement that “It is the first duty of the press to undermine the foundations of the existing political system.” Page 46

Gas Book, a publication showcasing multimedia and electronic music talents within a single package consisting of a book, a CD-ROM, an audio CD, stickers and a T-shirt. Page 48

By the late 1990s, the number of zines had exploded to an estimated 50,000, covering all kinds of social and personal themes. The zine scene featured well-attended meetings, professional distributors and dedicated sections in public libraries. As Gunderloy said in the introduction to his book The World of Zines: “The zine world is in fact a network of networks”.67 But the economic crisis of the mid-1990s took its toll on the paper zines: increases in postage rates and bankruptcies of some of the major zine distributors (most notably Desert Moon) forced the zines towards a much more cautious publishing policy. Page49

On the other hand, while our trust in print remains more or less intact, we increasingly perceive printed media as being too slow in delivering content, compared to the ‘live’ digital media which can be constantly updated minute-by-minute. This is true especially in the case of the news, which is increasingly seen as being completely ‘disembodied’. A clear sign of this is the desperate trend of online platforms attempting to speculate on ongoing news developments, by constantly anticipating what may be going on, or what is about to happen very soon – often using a vague and elusive tone designed to trick the reader into trusting that all the developments mentioned in the news have already actually taken place (see chapter 3.3). Page 51

The Yes Men’s fake but historic New York Times sheds a light on the future of publishing: here a ‘forecast’ content was printed and presented as reality, ironically demonstrating how the ‘real’ news is increasingly turning into a ‘virtual reality’: a vast, crowded, ever-changing and immersive space, endlessly navigable in different hyperlinked directions and dimensions. Page 54

Letters and Sciences wrote in a report to its members:“The vigorous brief of the Canadian Daily Newspapers Association was devoted entirely to a discussion of the consequences to the present newspaper business if the new device of facsimile broadcasting should become, as seems possible, an effective and popular rival to newspapers as we know them… this development will attract newcomers to the newspaper field, and that the facsimile reader will be able in his home to dial any one of several newspapers just as now he tunes his receiving set to radio programmes. Page 54

“A day will come when we’ll get all of our newspapers and magazines by home computers. But that’s a few years off.” The news anchorwoman concluded: “But it takes over two hours to receive the entire text of a newspaper over the phone, and with an hourly charge of five dollars the new ‘tele-paper’ would not be much competition for the 20 cents street edition”.76 Which goes to show just how radically the economics of the ‘tele-paper’ have changed since then (and particularly since the mid-00s). Page 55

In February 2007, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of the New York Times, announced: “I really don’t know whether we’ll be printing the Times in five years, and you know what? I don’t care either.” This statement was more or less instantly quoted (and endlessly repeated) by online news media platforms of every kind, seeing here a sign from God that their dream of many years was finally materialising. But what Sulzberger was actually saying was that within five years, the New York Times would be ready to switch to a digital-only business model. Page 55

According to Jimmy Wales, co-founder and figurehead of Wikipedia: “It isn’t that reading is going out of style – quite the opposite. It isn’t that people don’t care about quality – quite the opposite. The death of the traditional magazine has come about because people are demanding more information, of better quality, and faster.”86 And 86 Philip Meyer, in his book The Vanishing Newspaper makes the plausible prediction, based on statistics of newspaper readership in America from the 1960s to the present day, that if the current trend continues, newspaper readership in U.S. will be exactly zero by the first quarter of 2043.87. Page 56

Eric Schmidt, Google’s CEO, replied in an interview:“We have a mechanism that enhances online subscriptions, but part of the reason it doesn’t take off is that the culture of the Internet is that information wants to be free… We’d like to help them better monetize their customer base… I wish I had a brilliant idea, but I don’t. These little things help, but they don’t fundamentally solve the problem.” Page 56

As Clay Shirky, Assistant Arts Professor at New York University’s graduate Interactive Telecommunications Program, anticipated in 1995:“The price of information has not only gone into free fall in the last few years, it is still in free fall now, it will continue to fall long before it hits bottom, and when it does whole categories of currently lucrative businesses will be either transfigured unrecognizably or completely wiped out, and there is nothing anyone can do about it.” Page 57

What then can save the newspapers? The German advertising creative director Marc Schwieger shocked an audience at a major newspaper conference by telling them openly that they should concentrate their efforts on becoming the medium that prints “yesterday’s news”. He also believes that, if the Apple/iTunes paradigm is indeed going to become the new standard, then newspapers can learn a valuable survival lesson from the music industry: how to compensate for the loss of traditional sources of income (CD sales, print circulation) by focusing on ‘special’ and ‘quality’ products (in the case of the music industry, live concerts). For printed newspapers, the equivalent of the ‘unique experience’ of the live concert is probably the thick weekend edition – longer articles and more sophisticated content, focusing less on real-time news and more on analysis, comment and reflection. Page 57

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales asserts that “There still is value in the paper form-factor and there still is value in carefully selected ‘best of’ content, delivered on a per-issue or subscription basis.”93 And what of 93 all the other forms of periodical print? As the saying goes, “if Athens cries, Sparta does not laugh”. In the course of 2009, for example, a number of popular glossy magazines such as PC Magazine, Playgirl, Arena, Vibe, Blender, Urb and Play published their final issues (though Playgirl and Vibe have since been resurrected as quarterly or bi-monthly publications). Page 58

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice-president of search products and user experience, stated during a U.S. Senate hearing:“The atomic unit of consumption for existing media is almost always disrupted by emerging media. (…) The structure of the Web has caused the atomic unit of consumption for news to migrate from the full newspaper to the individual article. As with music and video, many people still consume physical newspapers in their original full-length format. But with online news, a reader is much more likely to arrive at a single article.” Page 60

by Time, Inc. (discontinued after 6 issues). Mine was a free magazine based on reader preferences, compiled using content selected from the publisher’s various titles (Time, Sports Illustrated, InStyle, Money, Travel+Leisure, etc) and featuring advertisements fine-tuned to the selected content. Page 61

Alternately, the project News at Seven99 has developed a news-generating algorithm 99 which automatically produces journalistic text. The website StatSheethas been testing the system using sports statistics; the ‘imitation’ is considered successful when at least 90 per cent of readers believe the text was created by a human writer. Page 61

of presenting news specifically for the online environment. The navigation was designed to make it easy to follow specific news stories, integrating content from different sources and presenting it chronologically and by type of media. The New York Times went one step further with its Shifd project: participating users had an RFID tracking device implanted in their mobile phone, computer and television, which then followed their reading and watching behavior. A news story read halfway on the phone, could then be picked up by the computer when the user turned it on; or the TV could be programmed to play related videos. Are the news going to start following us, anticipating our tastes and moods? Certainly, the very nature of the news is becoming increasingly ephemeral – an endless stream of short news items all competing Page 62

The New York Times went one step further with its Shifd project: participating users had an RFID tracking device implanted in their mobile phone, computer and television, which then followed their reading and watching behaviour. A news story read halfway on the phone, could then be picked up by the computer when the user turned it on; or the TV could be programmed to play related videos. Are the news going to start following us, anticipating our tastes and moods? Certainly, the very nature of the news is becoming increasingly ephemeral – an endless stream of short news items all competing (often desperately) for our attention. Page 62

This is what I would call ‘preemptive news’: information in a transitional state between rumour and actual news, but too important to wait for proper verification, and thus published – as a valuable card in the metaphorical poker game against the online competition. Page 63

George P. Landow noted in his groundbreaking (1994) book Hyper/Text/Theory that “movement from the tactile to the digital is the primary fact about the contemporary world”.112 But the more we 112 become surrounded by digital and volatile screen-based content, the more this ‘tactility’ becomes a vibrant and pleasurable experience – and something that once again physically links individuals, as a kind of temporary neural connection. Page 67-68


“Every person of fairly good education and of restless mind writes a book. As a rule, it is a superficial book, but it swells the bulk and it indicated the cerebral unrest that is trying to express itself. We have arrived at a condition in which more books are printed than the world can read.” Page 73


It’s going from a world of ‘filter, then publish’ … to ‘publish, then filter.’”124 And this applies even 124 more to POD ‘vanity publishing’. The original publishing paradigm, with editors carefully selecting, editing and proofing content before it could be printed, is being superseded by what Shirky defines as “mass amateurization”. This in turn is having a significant impact on the more commercial POD efforts, since the self-gratification of seeing a book with one’s own name on the cover is an attractive prospect for many potential customers. Meanwhile, the mass media are publicising this development as a social phenomenon, presenting it as some new promised land for would-be writers. Page 73


Various web-to-POD technologies are currently being developed to allow customers to select their own content – which, in the case of books, amounts to individual readers compiling their own publication. Such a level of customisation will undoubtedly signify a major shift in the role of the editor, since it effectively does away with the traditional publishing model of printing thousands of copies of the exact same content. While this obviously means more freedom for the reader, it also introduces a new problem for writers, who can no longer be sure their content is reaching every customer. Page 75

One of the loftiest promises of the emerging e-book market, is the amount of space it will end up saving us (see chapter 3.4). In a nutshell, the propaganda mantra suggests that consumers will have more space in which to store more goods – a perfect, endless cycle of consumption. In fact, printed materials are one of the few consumer objects that generally do not expire or become obsolete, meaning they can’t be quickly ‘consumed’ and discarded, but just sit there taking up space, for years or even decades. And so, the magical process of digitisation is supposed to free up all this precious space, which seems to be in such tragically short supply in the Western world.

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Interviewing Bezos for Newsweek magazine,156 the computer-culture 156 journalist and author Steven Levy spiced up his questions with a few of his own remarkable insights, such as: “(the book) is a more reliable storage device than a hard disk drive, and it sports a killer user interface… And, it is instant-on and requires no batteries.” Page 86

As Marshall McLuhan once wrote: “All the new media are art forms which have the power of imposing, like poetry, their own assumptions.” Page 87


But there are even more serious concerns, at least for the time being. One of these is that the e-book (and e-magazine) publishing model creates a forced marriage between the user and the publisher, and that once married (once the e-content has been purchased) there’s really no simple way to separate. For example, Amazon uses its own proprietary (.AZW) file format for the Kindle, instead of the universal PDF and EPUB standards (native PDF support was added as an extra feature in second-generation Kindle models, while EPUB can only be converted using a free program called KindleGen). And what happens when customers wish to resell or lend their books? Such a simple thing in the real world, but not in the digital one. Green Apple Books has produced a series of humorous web videos160 about the practical problems of using the Kindle, one of which depicts customers discovering the perils of the ‘first sale doctrine’ business model: customers are not allowed to resell or lend content which they have bought, a restriction enforced through various DRM (Digital Rights Management) copy protection schemes. Interestingly, publishers brave enough to do without DRM are usually rewarded by a boost in sales; for example O’Reilly, which registered a 104% increase. Page 87-88

They gave everybody back their copies and promised they would never do it again – unless they had a court order. I’ve worked as a bookseller, and no bookseller has ever had to make a promise at the cash register: ‘Here’s your books. I promise I won’t come to your house and take them away again – unless I have a court order.’” Page 88

“What has spurred this new wave of hope is the fact that technologies are beginning to look and feel more paper-like.”Abigail J. Sellen and Richard H. R. Harper, The Myth of the Paperless Office, 2002180“In the first decades of the Gutenberg revolution, printing presses, as McLuhan long ago pointed out, poured forth a flood of manuscripts in print form. In a similar manner, one can expect that in the first stages of hypertext publishing, printed books will provide both its raw material and much of its stylistics.”George P. Landow, Hyper/Text/Theory, 1994181

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Electric circuitry does not support the extension of visual modalities in any degree approaching the visual power of the printed word.”Marshall McLuhan, The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962187 Page 95

In 1928, El Lissitzky described his grand vision for the libraries of the future in his essay Topography of Typography: “The printed page transcends space and time. The printed page, the infinity of the book, must be transcended. THE ELECTRO-LIBRARY.” Page 103


In his 1945 book The Scholar and the Future of the Research Library, the publisher and inventor Fremont Rider calculated that the volume of the content of libraries doubled once every sixteen years. He proposed to drastically reduce this volume using microfilm, more specifically his own Microcard’ invention; and indeed by the 1960s the use of microfilm had become a near-universal policy. Page 103-104

visual passage”.225 A few years later, in 1963, Arnold B. Barach, in his 225 book 1975: And the Changes To Come, imagined the world a bit more than a decade later, describing a system which he called the ‘Reference Finder’:“Every 60 seconds, day and night, approximately 2,000 pages of books, newspapers, or reports are published somewhere in the world; and the output is increasing by leaps and bounds. Libraries will ultimately be forced to use computers such as this for locating documents and references, since it will be so difficult otherwise to keep up with the printed material. This pioneering installation is at the Center for Documentation and Communication Research at Western Reserve University.” Page104


Based on the concept of the ‘bookmobile’ (a mobile library in service since 1857 in a circle of eight villages in Cumbria, England227), the Internet Bookmobile227228is an experiment set up by Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle. Since 2002, the Bookmobile has been physically spreading electronic texts using print-on-demand technology – while gathering widespread public acclaim. Kahle uses simple technology (computer, printer, binding machine) stored inside a van, touring through various U.S. cities and parking outside of schools, parks, museums and farmers’ markets. Page104

Marcelo Coelho and Pattie Maes, in collaboration with Joanna Berzowska and Lyndl Hall, are creating what they call “Pulp-Based Computing”.244 This con244 sists of “integrating electrically active inks and fibers during the papermaking process”, creating sensors and actuators that behave, look, and feel like paper. Page111


In most electronic media, the screen is backlit. Marshall McLuhan speculated (rather appropriately, during a TV interview) that this characteristic in particular induces a near-mystical reverence in the spectator, much like that of the stained glass windows of medieval churches. Also, the backlit screen shines directly on the retina, strongly stimulating the sense of sight. Paper, on the other hand, is indirectly illuminated by the natural lighting of the environment, and is thus much less strenuous on the eyesight. Page114


But, as with every evolution, while something had been gained, something else has been lost: penmanship, little doodles, quick notes, obscure or purely decorative marks, all of which contribute to deciphering the ‘mood’ of what was scribbled on paper. We have gained, instead, accuracy and heterogeneity, thanks to online (or offline) dictionary software. There is also another radical change to consider, which can be read between the lines: publishing on paper, compared to publishing online, is a stronger ‘gesture’, one which creates the sense of an intimate (and definitely physical) space between the writer and reader. Page115


For example, anyone advocating the use of ‘electronic form reports’ to replace printed reports should include in their carbon footprint calculation not only the amount of paper saved, but also the amount of electrical consumption required to keep the servers permanently online: “Jonathan Koomey of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California has calculated that the data centres that drive the internet already consume one per cent of global electricity capacity, and that their consumption is growing at seventeen per cent per year.”256 Clearly, the longer we spend looking 256 at any given information (and the more complex the information), the greater the advantages of paper and print. Barney Cox, writing in Eyemagazine, went even further, proposing a ‘Slow Information’ movement (echoing the ‘Slow Food’ one), better for our eyes as well as for our planet. Page117

“All forms of knowledge achieved stability and permanence, not because paper was more durable than papyrus but simply because there were many copies.”James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, 2011258 Page 118

As James Rifkin wrote in his book The age of access: “The physical container becomes secondary to the unique services contained in it… Books and journals on library shelves are giving precedence to access to services via the Internet.” Page119

The Internet Archive’s founder Brewster Kahle describes his vision as follows:“Most societies place importance on preserving artifacts of their culture and heritage. Without such artifacts, civilization has no memory and no mechanism to learn from its successes and failures. Our culture now produces more and more artifacts in digital form. The Archive’s mission is to help preserve those artifacts and create an Internet library for researchers, historians, and scholars.” Page 123


But the question remains: does any of this really qualify as ‘archiving’? In purely technical terms it probably does. On the other hand, we must also take into account the intrinsically unsteady nature of digital data: there is still no long-term (or even medium-term) preservation technology for digital data that guarantees data integrity for even as little as 50 years in ideal conditions. And conditions are often far from ideal; data can easily become corrupted for any of a number of reasons. The media itself might be damaged (de-magnetised, de-layered, scratched, broken, etc) or exposed to environmental factors (sun, heat, electromagnetic interference, humidity, bacteria, smoke, etc); or the hardware or software required to read, decode, or decompress the data may no longer be available for whatever reason. Likewise, the data may become inaccessible (though not actually lost) if some essential network node is ‘down’, or if any of the network’s various technologies is malfunctioning and no longer being maintained.Meanwhile, the durable printed copies can still be found in libraries worldwide, where nothing short of some catastrophic physical accident can ‘delete’ them. The oldest surviving printed copy of a book (the Diamond Sutra) was block-printed more than 1,100 years ago, in 868 CE; the earliest known preserved writings, on clay tablets, are several thousand years old. One rare case of a new medium developed specifically for extremely long-term data storage is the Rosetta Disk:“Inspired by the historic Rosetta Stone, the Rosetta Disk is intended to be ‘a durable archive of human languages’ (…) Made of nickel alloy (with a 2,000 year life expectancy), the physical Disk is Three inches across, and micro-etched with over 13,000 pages of language documentation, covering over 1,500 languages.

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Seen from the perspective of such (unfortunately very realistic) doomsday scenarios, the digitising of printed sources should not be considered as ‘archiving’ in any real sense, but merely as a method of ‘accessing’ the content (‘access’ is in itself a superlative buzzword, and of course the sheer thrill of being able to remotely access important printed content is certainly a major incentive for these huge ongoing ‘archiving’ efforts). Page 125

Geoffrey Batchen wrote in his 2006 essay The Art of Archiving:“The archive is no longer a matter of discrete objects (files, books, art works, etc.) stored and retrieved in specific places (libraries, museums, etc.). Now the archive is also a continuous stream of data, without geography or container, continuously transmitted and therefore without temporal restriction (always available in the here and now).”page131


Marshall McLuhan stated in Understanding Media: “Plainly, to store is to expedite, since what is stored is also more accessible than what has to be gathered.” Page 131

Digital is the paradigm for content and quantity of information; analogue is the paradigm for usability and interfacing. Page 151


Sent On the other hand, this hybrid is still limited in several respects: its process is complete as soon as it has been acquired by the reader; there is no further community process or networked activity involved; once purchased, it will remain forever a traditional book on a shelf. And so, there is still plenty of room for exploration in developing future hybrid publishing projects. Page 153

In his 1975 manifesto The New Art of Making Books, the Mexican-Dutch intermedia artist Ulises Carrión clarified that a “writer, contrary to the popular opinion, does not write books. A writer writes texts”.[iv] Against a narrowly literary notion of the book, he comprehensively defined it as “a space-time sequence” that may “contain any (written) language, not only literary language, or even any other system of signs”.[v] Carrión of course was making his case for the post-Fluxus medium of non-literary artists’ books – or, to use his own, and much better, term, ‘bookworks’ – which he sold in his bookshop ‘Other Books & So’ on Amsterdam’s Herengracht. His notion of books was abstract rather than material – a definition consistent with the early 20th century philosopher Ernst Cassirer’s concept of the ‘symbolic form’. And it is precisely such a symbolic form which is able to migrate, more or less painlessly, to an electronic medium (such as the e-book) – just as the ‘symbolic form’ of the music track or album has migrated back and forth between vinyl, cassette, CD, MP3, and Internet streaming.

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