Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

cseresz

The future is bleak

130 posts in this topic

Luddites.

Try to view it not as the end of books, but as the beginning of an era where there are no real limits to the information at your disposal. An era where the entire contents of the worlds libraries are a few clicks away, where the concepts of "unavailable", "out of print" and "all our copies are out on loan" no longer apply.

Books have had a good run, but all technologies are superseded eventually.

What if the technology isn't an improvement in our view?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What if the technology isn't an improvement in our view?

Well, you'd better hope that the majority share your view AND the companies that currently produce and distribute content via your preferred medium see no benefit to themselves in enforcing the change. Otherwise you are going to be disappointed when the world moves on regardless of your feelings on the matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, the good old "do it our way or get out of the way"...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I read most of my books these days on my computer since it's easier to acquire them that way, but I definitely prefer a book in the hand.

On a completely different note, I've always laughed at people who claim readership is declining. Readership is probably at the same level it has always been in history, moreover, with 300 million people in America, even 10% reading semiregularly is 30 million people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love reading arguments from the bourgeoisie about how technology such as X, Y, or Z (e-readers being but one small facet of this) will lead to better this, that, and other things. While all the while, I can't help but wonder how the poor underfunded urban libraries will cope, how this won't lead to a greater educational/social polarization between the Haves and Have Nots, and so forth.

Resource allocation is never high on the list of discussion items related to topics like this, is it? ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
While all the while, I can't help but wonder how the poor underfunded urban libraries will cope

Apparently, in Philadelphia at least, they won't.

Edit: Or they will, now. They got funding at the zero hour, thankfully. Really would've sucked if I could never go to the library again without moving. But considering all the fuss when they'd closed down a bunch of branches a couple years back, I thought it was possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's very sad to hear. Wish I were surprised, but in this day and age of shrinking budgets and people not wishing it to be spent on community projects like libraries, not surprising at all :(

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ah, the good old "do it our way or get out of the way"...

Yep, that's pretty much how it goes. Even if you prefer VHS cassettes to DVDs you are out of luck, because nobody makes commercial VHS tapes nowadays. Technology moves on, those people unwilling to move with it get left behind.

I love reading arguments from the bourgeoisie about how technology such as X, Y, or Z (e-readers being but one small facet of this) will lead to better this, that, and other things. While all the while, I can't help but wonder how the poor underfunded urban libraries will cope

Well, there won't be any need for them to act as book lenders any more, online library services would take over that role. Their role as community centres where people can gain computer/internet access and access educational services would continue.

how this won't lead to a greater educational/social polarization between the Haves and Have Nots, and so forth.

The move to digital distribution could very well lead to just that, however it just might lead to a situation where all of us, rich and poor, have convenient access to the entire contents of the most comprehensive libraries in the world.

You simply can't achieve the latter using the medium of print books, the costs associated with manufacturing, distributing and storing copies of all those books are too big a barrier to overcome. However if you digitise all the information in those libraries then it does become achievable - moving digital information around is easy and cheap.

So by going digital we at least have the opportunity to level the playing field. I'm hoping the governments and companies involved see the wisdom in selling access to everybody for a low price, rather than charging a high price to the few who can afford it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

geddon remember you have to show us how it is so much better than paper just because its knerw doesn't make it so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
geddon remember you have to show us how it is so much better than paper just because its knerw doesn't make it so.

Honestly, right now I'd class printed books and electronic reader devices/eBooks as about the same in terms of usefulness. They both have their strengths and weaknesses, and each can currently do things that the other can't. The main difference is that I can see eBooks eliminating or mitigating their weaknesses in the near future and I can see their feature set expanding further, whereas printed book technology is already as good as it is going to get.

Features that are already here:

The ability to change font size; improving accessibility for the visually impaired. Some e-readers will even perform text-to-speech conversions. Print books have no comparable feature.

Dictionary lookup; if you come across a word you don't understand many e-readers will let you select the word and view a dictionary definition. You can do that with a printed book but it would require you to carry around a dictionary with you in addition to whatever you were reading.

Searching within the text; since e-readers are computers full text searching is a possibility. Searching within a printed book is matter of flipping and page scanning until you hit the right spot.

The ability to store thousands of books in a small, portable device; even the most staunch supporter of printed books must accept that they take up a lot of space, if you are the kind of person who likes to read on holiday you'll appreciate not having to devote half the space in your suitcase to books.

The ability to browse and buy a book wherever you are and have it available to read almost instantly; at the moment only the Kindle has this but I expect it to become a standard feature of all electronic readers sooner rather than later.

Exporting of annotations made to an eBook; writing in the margins and festooning your print books with bits of paper to mark important pages isn't a particularly efficient way of working. The ability to export your notes to your computer for cataloguing and incorporating into other work is something a lot of scholars will appreciate.

Features I expect to see in the future:

Automatic corrections; it should be possible for a publisher to correct errors and update eBooks with minimal user interaction. In contrast I have printed books with errors (some missing whole paragraphs) that I'll just have to live with.

Better screens, with colour and realtime refresh rates, leading to..

Interactivity and the use of other media to complement the text:

How about math textbooks that include calculators, or where the graphs change as you modify parameters?

How about technical manuals that allow you to view and rotate 3D renderings of engine parts you are working on, or show an animation of the sequence of procedures you need to perform.

How about history books that can show you video clips of the events being discussed?

You can do a lot of that stuff with computers now but, as has already been pointed out, people don't much like reading from standard computer screens. Integrate those features into an ultra-portable device, with a long-lasting battery and a screen that is as comfortable to read from as paper and you have a very compelling platform.

Give it a few years and the devices will be that good, the only question is whether the publishers and distributors of the content can get their act together in that time and make available a catalogue of digital content of sufficient breadth, quality and affordability to support the new reading devices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Give it a few years and the devices will be that good, the only question is whether the publishers and distributors of the content can get their act together in that time and make available a catalogue of digital content of sufficient breadth, quality and affordability to support the new reading devices.

Perhaps, but who will control that catalogue? (Google is currently trying to ensure it will.) And who limits and logs all access to it? The possibilities for totalitarian censorship are obvious.

As has already been pointed out:

Try thinking of a world in which Stuff Like this happens.
we have already seen an example of the sort of casual abuse of central control we can expect unless we are very careful. And 1984 of all books! :rolleyes:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Perhaps, but who will control that catalogue? (Google is currently trying to ensure it will.) And who limits and logs all access to it? The possibilities for totalitarian censorship are obvious.

Issues with no easy answers. I suspect it will be a continual fight (as it has been up to now with physical books) with governments trying to control what information is available, corporations trying to control who gets paid for supplying it (while mining and selling all the associated data for all it's worth) and privacy and free speech advocates trying to protect the public interest by pointing out the most egregious trespasses of both.

In short the move into the digital realm only changes the battleground, the war will stay the same. The sad reality is that most people care very little about this sort of thing anyway, those who do care about being denied access to certain books will likely be the same people who know how to use the darknet to track down and distribute digital copies of those works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
As has already been pointed out: we have already seen an example of the sort of casual abuse of central control we can expect unless we are very careful. And 1984 of all books! :rolleyes:

Just wait until all the dictionaries are digitalised and Amazon starts deleting words, to the point where we have to describe the quality of everything by the number of stars we'd give it. :angry:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Apparently, in Philadelphia at least, they won't.

Now THAT'S a fucking tragedy. Jesus.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just wait until all the dictionaries are digitalised and Amazon starts deleting words, to the point where we have to describe the quality of everything by the number of stars we'd give it. :angry:

More likely is the idea that the distributors will start to merge adverts with the text:

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. Speaking of clocks, click here to view our exiting range of timepieces, wall mounted or free standing they are the perfect finishing touch to any room. Winston Smith, his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind, slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions, though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him. A Roomba would be just the thing to deal with that dust, models start at just..."

They will try this stuff at some point, though perhaps not as obviously as that. People in detective novels will be drinking a cup of Nescafé coffee, rather than just "a cup of coffee" as was originally written. It'll be up to the public to be vigilant and demand unadulterated copies of works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Even if Geddon is right about the improvements coming in reading devices, I really don't think paper books are ever going to disappear completely.

One of the main reasons is precisely because you don't need a technological device to read them. DVDs will totally replaced Videotapes because all the videotape players will eventually die and so the tapes will become unviewable. Though individual books will age and deteriorate, they aren't all going to suddenly become unusable by almost everyone the way videotapes are. There will continue to be used book stores, and people who discover they like to read words on paper in such stores will always provide a market for reprinted works on paper, even if it becomes a specialty taste.

The movies didn't completely get rid of stage plays, and TV didn't completely get rid of the movies. Radio, records, and CDs haven't completely gotten rid of live music performances. And Kindle and its future improvements won't completely get rid of paper books.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Even if Geddon is right about the improvements coming in reading devices, I really don't think paper books are ever going to disappear completely.

One of the main reasons is precisely because you don't need a technological device to read them. DVDs will totally replaced Videotapes because all the videotape players will eventually die and so the tapes will become unviewable. Though individual books will age and deteriorate, they aren't all going to suddenly become unusable by almost everyone the way videotapes are. There will continue to be used book stores, and people who discover they like to read words on paper in such stores will always provide a market for reprinted works on paper, even if it becomes a specialty taste.

It'll take a number of decades (although perhaps not as long as you'd think) for the existing mass market books to disappear. Even if stored properly and used carefully they have a fairly limited life span because of the way they were made.

Better quality books (made with acid free paper, better glues, sewn bindings) will last much longer and really old books that have survived until now because they were originally made to last will probably be around for as long as anybody cares to look after them.

I do expect (and hope) there wil be a small market for companies making and selling limited and premium edition books - there will still be book collectors and enthusiasts around. It'll probably be much like the Vinyl/CD market is now, most of the public are happy enough using CDs but there is enough of a demand for old style records to support a niche market.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Geddon,

How about history books that can show you video clips of the events being discussed?

I thought that was the History channel.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I thought that was the History channel.

Nobody is suggesting that history books should be replaced by documentaries. Adding video clips is just an extension of adding pictures, both have the potential to complement and enhance a body of text if used sensibly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites