December 5, 2008

The new technology devil - eBooks!

See the "dissertation" on TeleRead blog here on how we are again demonizing a new book technology, just like 500 years ago.

imageHistory replays itself!

Originally books were handwritten (copied) by specialized scribes, often with extreme artistry.

Then one day a new technology was "invented" - the movable type printer, which promised cheap, mass production of books that (shock! horror!) would ALL LOOK THE SAME, and were ugly. They put the scribes jobs at risk and the end of an art form loomed.

This new technology was the devil incarnate, and "real books" were under threat.

Fast forward 500 years and the same type of argument is happening with eBooks. They are "just not the same" as real paper books, and surely will never take off, much less take over?

The details of this specific argument aside, we just never seem to learn do we?

New technologies that intersect with art and culture and that break long tradition come under attack.

There is a lot of talk about the limitations of the new technology and we separate into two polarized bands, those for and those against. Those who stay on the fence are the worst, they won't even take a "position"!

Surely, if it were all limitations then it would no doubt fail on it's own - lack of- merit no, and no attack would be necessary?

In these cases we seem to fear the new technology. But surely if we look back, taking the growth of the printing press as our example in this case, the new technology has contributed hugely to society and culture.

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