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Re: Final Bookways issue

Joel Spector <FarrowSt@AOL.COM> said:

> Please. No more techno-trash. Give me real books, NOT collector's items. Low
> tech is more durable, more survivable, more portable, cheaper to produce and
> easier to replace, and doesnt require a power source other than the human
> brain to operate.  Whoever produces them, and however they're produced, books
> will always be superior to their 'electronic' copies, if for no other reason
> than because they are physical reality, not digital. They require of us what
> the world requires of us. Caring. Computers don't.
> VTY,
> Ned Ludd


I am a bibliophile. Have been one for about 35 years. My wife is a book artist
and an accomplished lettering artist, who has also spent about 20 years working
in publishing. I love my letterpress-printed, leather-bound edition of Malory
with Russel Flint illustrations and inlaid decoration on the cover.

I am also an Artificial Intelligence researcher, an accomplished programmer, a
writer, and a (digital) typographer. I love the fact that I am able to produce
fine printed pages using tools that that are comfortable to me.

        End Prologue

Anyone who can say that things digital are less real than things analog simply
doesn't understand what s/he is talking about. And anyone who thinks that
computers require of us less caring than any other aspect of our world is
mired in a mid-60s model of computing. The Luddites were wrong, and their
modern counterparts are no less so.


Digital media will never replace books, but they do provide capabilities
beyond those offered by the printed page that are sufficiently useful to
justify their existence. For example, the following quote -- which I think is
germane to Mr. Spector's message -- was easier to find on the World Wide Web
than it would have been in a "real" copy of Bartlett's:

     A little learning is a dangerous thing;
     Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
     There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
     And drinking largely sobers us again.

         - Alexander Pope, _Essay on Criticism_.

Yes, I could keep a "real" copy of Bartlett's in my briefcase at all times,
but when I add a dictionary, a thesaurus, the complete works of Shakespeare,
and Britannica, my briefcase becomes a bit cumbersome. Unless, of course, I
have them on microfiche -- which is, presumably, just as "unreal" as a digital
representation of the same works. In addition to access via the Internet, one
(or possibly two) CD-ROM(s) would also hold all of these works, and the
notebook computer on which I could view them would be smaller and lighter than
the smallest of the volumes I mentioned.

You stay in your wholly analog world, Mr. Spector; I'll continue to inhabit
both the analog and the digital worlds, and reap the benefits of each.

        End Epilogue


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