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From Gutenberg to Gates - the death of printed text

  1. May 14, 2010 #1

    Ivan Seeking

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    My shelves of once cherished and indispensable academic books, now seem more a box full of slide rules, or like my dusty old stack of 45's, than they do the deep well of knowledge that they represented as I slowly stocked them. It seems to finally be true: The long predicted death of print is happening before our lcd-lit eyes. Books are sliding into oblivion. Schools are handing out laptops. Newspapers are dying in droves. Even billboards are blazing with electronic bling.

    It was a truly life-changing event when, a few years ago, I tossed about six-hundred pounds of manuals and technical information - a library of information that I had built over a span of twenty-five years. But it was truly shocking, when I realized the other day that I have hardly walked into a library in ten years. That really brought it home for me.

    It seems to me that we are privileged witnesses to a profound, historic event, playing out in slow motion. I will post more of my own observations later but I wanted to get the discussion started. What is the significance of this event? How will it change life as we know it? What is the potential price, in psycho-social terms, of the death of print?
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2010
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  3. May 14, 2010 #2

    russ_watters

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    My parents' bought an Encyclopedia Britanica 20+ years ago when I was in junior high. Is it even for sale anymore? My dad still references it occasionally - I have brunch with my parents every Sunday and my dad pulled it out for a discussion on the civil rights movement just last week. Me? I googled for what I was looking for.
    20 feet away from me at work is a 20 foot wide wall covered with cataloges. If I can download the fan curve I want faster than I can get up, walk to the wall, find the cat I need, walk back to my cube, and flip through it to find the fan curve....why bother using it?

    ....caveat: some vendors have crappy websites and I still use the catalogues for them.
     
  4. May 14, 2010 #3

    mheslep

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    When I started in industry every electrical engineer in the hardware end had several shelves of IC data books. I mean all of them, every engineer, everywhere had ye olde National and Intel data book colors flying like Man-of-Wars at sea. Today in 2010 they're gone, I mean utterly gone, even for the old timers.
     
  5. May 14, 2010 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    On rare occasions I am forced to use a printed manual or reference. I swear, on a number of occasions, I have caught myself thinking to hit Ctrl-F. I get very annoyed when I realize that it's not there. :biggrin:
     
  6. May 14, 2010 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    In regards to libraries, I can now get information in ten seconds or so, at most usually a few minutes, that once required several hours; even days, or weeks. Way back when, it wasn't unusual to contact manufacturers with technical information requests. Getting a response sometimes took weeks. I can almost always get anything I need online now. At worst, normally, I'll need to have a tech support person send me a technical note by email. Often that arrives within minutes of my request.
     
  7. May 14, 2010 #6

    DaveC426913

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    Ah but pocketbooks will hang on for a long time. Reading a pocketbook is as much about the viscerality of the experience as it is about the content.
     
  8. May 14, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    Tsu dumped those for her Kindle long ago. She is already a year into the second generation model. But your point is taken. Reading can be a tactile experience. Part of the price?

    As we now say in our house: That book's a real button-pusher!
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2010
  9. May 14, 2010 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    She can browse the library of who knows how many books, and download a new book, from almost anywhere, in a matter of seconds. No internet connetion required. And, the books are usually cheaper than printed books. I believe they are usually significantly cheaper. Her account is billed automatically. And you can carry every book you have ever owned or ever will read, in your pocket.

    I'm not seeing that print has a competitive edge. :biggrin:
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2010
  10. May 14, 2010 #9

    DaveC426913

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    OK, I'm sold. I just checked Kindle for my favourite author, wondering how many of his books might be kindlefied. I found a book that - not only do I not have - but I have not even heard of yet.
     
  11. May 15, 2010 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    :rofl: Yeah, Tsu instantly fell in love with hers. There is another big plus, and this applies especially to old people, so you might want to pay close attention. :uhh: :biggrin: The adjustable font sizes make it much easier to read. The advantage of this is obvious as the vision goes. Tsu's reading time used to be limited by eye strain, but she says this is no longer the case with the adjustable fonts. She broke her hip two years ago and spent most of six weeks reading, ALL day long.

    So I assume that they had every other book by your author that you knew about? I know Tsu has been very impressed with the selection available.
     
  12. May 15, 2010 #11

    Ivan Seeking

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    Do libraries play a siginificant role any longer, or are they just filling a void during the transition from print to electronic media? I know that right now they provide computer access for many people, but when all of the books have been digitized, and everyone has access to the internet through ten-dollar devices purchased at Radio Shack, will there be any role left for libraries?
     
  13. May 15, 2010 #12

    Ivan Seeking

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    How will education change? We are now seeing rapid growth in the online college industry. Will Universities as we know them disappear? Will the college experience itself become a thing of the past, with virtual campuses replacing physical ones? Perhaps loosely associated research centers will comprise the virtual university - a university that has no specific location.
     
  14. May 15, 2010 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    How can we know if information has been accurately preserved?
     
  15. May 15, 2010 #14

    DaveC426913

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    This is a concern I too have been harbouring.


    Last year, my Scuba Club made a huge push of effort and digitized its membership history, going back 25 years. The younger members were planning a big to-do to get rid of the 2 filing cabinets of membership forms in a big document-burning bonfire ceremony.


    My sister freaked. Electronic documents go out-of-fashion with advancing technology. You always keep the originals. So now she's the Keeper of the Documents.
     
  16. May 19, 2010 #15
    The Banking Industry would give her the title of "Manager of the the Records Department.":smile: How do I know this to be true? It was one of the first jobs I had as a very young woman while attending higher education. I was incharge of creating a department that had never existed in the history of that Savings and Loan. It included retrieval of documents from 150 branches. Ah, the memories of it all ~ One very young woman managing 15 men. That too was groundbreaking history back in the old days. Honestly, it was a great group of people. We got the job done and I moved on.

    This topic reminds me of another subject that I need to return. I have an idea that I have been tossing around for a while. Thanks to everyone for your input. :approve:
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2010
  17. May 21, 2010 #16
    I am no longer in that position - but 10 years ago, as a member of a Library borard I was surprised to find that attendance at the facility was actually increasing as computers became more popular. It is not just random computer use that generated this, but events organized by the librarians (author readings etc), but many 'on line' facilities were not actually 'on line' - Some Encyclopedias are on disk and pricy little devils.

    As for, from Ivan: How can we know if information has been accurately preserved? There is an article in today's edition that tells how, in Switzerland, the is a cavers that contains instructions and keys to different modes and accesses that may not be available in years to come.
     
  18. May 21, 2010 #17
    When you talk about as "the death of print," you're likely to garner a bunch of romanticizing about print that leads to new investments in print that are doomed to end up as little more than extra-textual ritualism like gift-giving, book-signings, library-filling, etc. I actually go to the library from time to time and read something off the shelf, but how many "book lovers" really read for the sake of the content and how many read to live their dream that book-life is not dead?
     
  19. May 25, 2010 #18
    I like my e-book reader. I hope the technology will evolve a bit, I would like better contrast of the display, quasi-instant response to page turns and commands, more mature software allowing better organization of the books stored inside. And yes, COLOR !!!

    Paper print IMO is still a bit more easy to use, faster to lookup indexes and so on.
    But the technology of e-readers will surely evolve in the next years to make me feel very comfortable with it's use.
     
  20. May 27, 2010 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/media/jan-june10/books_05-27.html [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  21. Jun 4, 2010 #20

    Ivan Seeking

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    Tsu has been a Kindle-only reader for two years now. Last week a friend at work loaned her a favorite book. Tsu only lasted a day or two before giving the book back and downloading it instead. She said a real book now seems awkward and relatively difficult to read - the adjustable font size being a major consideration. She said that even having to turn the pages now seems annoying. She kept wanting to push a button.
     
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