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Re: Final Bookways issue

My belonging to this list is only part of the testimony of my love for and
dedication to books and knowledge, the beautiful book, the tradition of
bookwriting, and editing and bookmaking that has developed and was
developing even during the period prior to the invention of movable type.
Production of beautiful books have been reduced to events.  However, the
phenomenon of hypertext has yet to be evaluated and understood. It may be a
part of an epistemological shift similar to the invention of movable type
when people began to have more ready access to texts.  This resulted in the
loss of the oral tradition, the storyteller, and the neglect of memory
abilities.  For all the empathy displayed for Luddites on this list, let us
only recall what happened, and who "won."

In memory's place we have people who know more and more because the texts
are readily available, and we are habituated to read a text, and go on to
read new and different texts.  Perhaps the only remnant of our prior
orientation might be found recapitulated in the development of the child and
its relation to books.  Children have their "favorite" books which they read
and reread them until they are very conversant with those texts, and in some
cases, know the texts "by heart," an insightful idiom for explaining this

As adults, we have been trained to go on to different texts because the
wider, deeper, more extensive knowledge is valued.  No longer is the center
stage to the storyteller but to the raconteur because this personage draws
on many more sources than a person who memorizes.  So we lost a little; we
gained a little, and today the entire academic structure of scholarship is
based on compendious knowledge of a particular area of a discipline rather
than intense knowledge of several texts.

The question for librarians and others whose calling is the preservation,
organization and presentation of knowledge sources is the ramifications of a
new kind of learning, a kind that appears to violate the discursive nature
of the knowlege that has traditionally been the center of librarianship as
exemplified by the book.  Language itself is discursive, and hypertext
breaks down its linearity, and we really do not understand if or how it will
create a new change in the knowledge acquisition paradigm similar to the
change invoked by the invention of movable type.  I do not think the answer
is to ignore it; I think the answer is to understand it, or at least try.

>Depending on intention and action of bookmaker/printer/hypertexter, and
>participation or agreement with writer, I think it can often be seen as
>collaboration with the text as much as meddling with the text. What I would
>want to point out is simply that the decisions to print on fine textured or
>handmade paper, bind in leather, etc., may condition the reading experience
>(or worse, cause one to collect and save and not read at all) at least as
>much as the hypertext treatment. Plus, I think I find hypertext most
>promising for works created with and for hypertext, rather than as some sort
>of interpretation of pre-existing texts. I will be glad to admit, however,
>that sometimes the dazzle of hypertext interactivity can command one's
>attention away from a text or image, in the same way that a dazzling example
>of fine printing can attract one's attention away from a text or image or
>their relationship.
>Charles Alexander
>Chax Press
>P.O. Box 19178
>Minneapolis, MN  55419-0178
>612-721-6063 (phone & fax)
        Jerry Blaz/The BOOKie Joint
        7246 Reseda Blvd.
        Reseda, CA 91335
                Outside of a dog, a man's best friend is a good book.
                Inside of a dog, it is too dark to read.
                                G. Marx

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