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Michel Roland-Guill

Will Gutenberg laugh last? | ROUGH TYPE - 2 views

  • the heaviest buyers of e-books are now buying more, not fewer, printed books
  • Clay Shirky
  • Not once in that half century has anyone successfully invented anything that feels like the digital version of a book. Books online, whether in a Kindle or Google Books, are always (cue McLuhan) the old medium populating the new.
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  • The mainstay of book publishing is the extended narrative, either fictional or factual and almost always shaped by a single authorial consciousness and expressed in a single authorial voice. It is, in other words, a work of art.
  • Count me as a member of the set who prefers my non-fiction in eBook format
  • If this is right, then the twilight of the printed book will proceed on a schedule disconnected to the growth or stagnation of e-books — what the internet portends is not the end of the paper container of the book, but rather the way paper organized our assumptions about writing altogether.
  • Clay Shirky
  • the book, a creation of human beings, turned out not only to be a terrific container for distributing speech and then writing; it also, through an intertwined, mutually reinforcing, and unique combination of the mode of reading it encouraged (deep, attentive, immersive) and the modes of expression it inspired (deep, thoughtful, eloquent, emotionally resonant, experimental), actually heightened the potential of human expression, experience, and life.
  • Already the presses have stopped for phone books and encyclopedias, are stopping for textbooks and newspapers, and will increasingly stop for books of all kinds. And I think as that happens, the experience of reading books will be displaced by other experiences.
  • I don’t believe in ‘narrative obsolescence’ — on the contrary, I think that stories, unlike books, are a fundamental unit of human thought, which is to say that in most cultures we know of, there were no books, but there were stories.
  • forms of aesthetic expression co-evolve with their modes of production, and often don’t survive large-scale reconfiguration of those modes.
  • I have several reasons for thinking that the current round of destruction is clearing the decks for something better, but the main one is that historically, media that increase the amount of arguing people do has been a long-term positive for society, even at the cost of short-term destruction of familiar patterns, and the disorientation of the people comfortable with those patterns. I think we’ll get extended narrative online — I just doubt the format of most of those narratives will look enough like a book to merit the name.
  • Where nihilism enters the picture is when you say, sneeringly, that although “half a millenium of rehearsed reverence have taught us to regard [the book] as a semantic unit, [it] may in fact be a production unit: the book is what you get when writers have access to printing presses, just as the album is what you get when musicians have access to LP-pressing machines.” People’s love of books in general and serious novels and poetry in particular is not just a numb act of “rehearsed reverence” (a phrase that is incredibly insulting and demeaning) to an accidental production unit.
  • Reducing aesthetic choices to “rehearsed reverence” is a form of nihilism.
  • Some things — emphasis on “things” — are actually worthy of respect.
Michel Roland-Guill

- How We Will Read: Clay Shirky - 0 views

  • Publishing is not evolving. Publishing is going away. Because the word “publishing” means a cadre of professionals who are taking on the incredible difficulty and complexity and expense of making something public. That’s not a job anymore. That’s a button. There’s a button that says “publish,” and when you press it, it’s done.
  • The question is, what are the parent professions needed around writing? Publishing isn’t one of them. Editing, we need, desperately. Fact-checking, we need. For some kinds of long-form texts, we need designers.
  • for all that I didn’t like the original Kindle, one of its greatest features was that you couldn’t get your email on it
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  • The endless gratification offered up by our devices means that the experience of reading in particular now becomes something we have to choose to do.
  • When people hear “social reading,” they think that it is proximate sociability on the device in real-time. But let’s not necessarily jam the social bit into the experience of reading. The explosion of conversation around those kinds of works is best done after the fact. The phrase “social reading” often causes people to misunderstand what it is.
Michel Roland-Guill

Why Abundance Should Breed Optimism: A Second Reply to Nick Carr | Britannica Blog - 0 views

  • spoken language is an evolutionary adaptation, but written language, in every form from cuneiform to unicode, is a technology, so there’s no written mode that isn’t under some sway or other.
  • Kittler says the typewriter made Nietzsche’s work more aphoristic, but Nietzsche was always an aphoristic writer, so was this a perversion or a purification of his style?
Michel Roland-Guill

Why Abundance is Good: A Reply to Nick Carr | Britannica Blog - 0 views

  • I think Carr’s premises are correct:  the mechanisms of media affect the nature of thought.
  • there are a host of people, from mathematicians to jazz musicians, who practice kinds of deep thought that are perfectly distinguishable from deep reading.
  • in either the availability or comprehension of material on scientific or technical subjects
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  • it’s not just Carr’s friend, and it’s not just because of the web—no one reads War and Peace. It’s too long, and not so interesting.
  • The reading public has increasingly decided that Tolstoy‘s sacred work isn’t actually worth the time it takes to read it, but that process started long before the internet became mainstream.
  • we continued to  reassure one another that War and Peace or À La Recherche du Temps Perdu were Very Important in some vague way.  (This tension has produced an entire literature about the value of reading Proust that is now more widely read than Proust‘s actual oeuvre.)
  • because the return of reading has not brought about the return of the cultural icons we’d been emptily praising all these years, the enormity of the historical shift away from literary culture is now becoming clear.
  • William Sayoran once remarked, “Everybody has got to die … but I have always believed an exception would be made in my case.” Luddism is a social version of that, where people are encouraged to believe that change is inevitable, except, perhaps, this time.
  • Luddism is bad for society because it misdirects people’s energy and wastes their time.
  • our older habits of consumption weren’t virtuous, they were just a side-effect of living in an environment of impoverished access.
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