Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Long Live the Printed Word

I think much has been written and said about the demise of the printed word thanks to the internet, as if the ability to retrieve and read information via a computer with an internet connection could ever replace the written word, be it books, magazines or newspapers. Perhaps the best argument against such is when the hard copy magazine article is about blogs and websites. Take, for example, the June 2009 issue of Sea Kayaker.

I do not subscribe to or usually read Sea Kayaker, but when a paddling friend alerted me to an article about Chuck Sutherland (“Chuck Sutherland: Cold Water Warrior” pp. 19-22) I picked up a copy at my local Barnes & Noble. The article about Chuck was worth the read and the purchase price, but that is not the point.

The point is the article on pages 44-47, “Kayaking Down the Information Superhighway”. The article documents how the internet has revolutionized sea kayaking social networking by enabling paddlers across the country from one another to share information, paddlers down the street from one another that may never have met to arrange to paddle together, and the formation of cyber clubs. That is right, four pages of black ink-formed characters on hard copy really existing in space and time white background, not computer code existing in cyberspace.

Beside the fact that the article “Kayaking Down the Information Superhighway” in the June 2009 Issue of Sea Kayaker alerting me to some blogs and websites that I was not familiar with, I can also roll it up and take it with me to read on the Subway. I can throw it into my briefcase without it taking up much space or my having to think about not dropping it. I do not have to rely on it maintain its charge, nor do I need to think about bringing along extra batteries or my cord to plug it in. It is completely portable. I can forget it, loose it, or throw it away without losing several hundred dollars worth of electronic hardware.

So here I am, a blogger, relying on the internet to communicate, writing about the fact that I think the written word is here to stay and that there are just some times I want to hold a hard copy in my hands to read. I like the internet for its search capabilities and the way it has decentralized the control of media and promoted free speech. I mean if I had to rely on a publisher and an editor the majority of what I have posted on my blog would never have appeared on a printed page. Nevertheless I am not willing to write the obituary for the book, magazine or newspaper. Long live the printed word.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

John, It was nice meeting you a few weeks back. I stop by your blog periodically, and i really enjoy it! Hope to see you at the shore some day, summits aren't for me :)

Jon at flsail dot com