What’s Past is Prologue: The Future of the Book…

August 31, 2010

“Special Glasses for Reading in Bed” source: Nationaal Archief

Much breath is being spent by the Chattering Classes predicting, debating, and otherwise worrying over the fates of the book, journalism, and publishing at large– broadly speaking: the creation, dissemination, storage, and use of knowledge itself.  Lots of jargon, a wealth of acronyms, and liberal use of facile analogies and constructs– it’s all a little dizzying.

Happily, Tim Carmody has ridden to the rescue. While he has mooted his own manifesto for the future of the book (eminently worth a read), his most recent contribution to the Science and Technology section of The Atlantic blog, is just what one needs in a Babel-like time such as this– some context.  In “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books,” that’s precisely what he provides as he recounts, for example, the move from rolled scroll to folded codex, the replacement of papyrus by parchment (and then paper), the shift from vertical to horizontal writing/reading, back to vertical…

It’s fascinating; it’s illuminating… and it’s a terrifically useful reminder that writing, reading– communicating– and the forms in which they’re done have always been in flux: “10 Reading Revolutions Before E-Books.”



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