ghostbusters

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ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture
ghostbusters

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D3v_ogRaTf4

I know it's going to be hard for everyone to resist commenting on the brilliant ""I collect spores, molds and fungus." pick-up line but I'd like to ask you to focus your comments on the "print is dead" concept.

After all these years what makes print(even electronic print) a worthwile medium for communicating with other humans now that audio/visual communication across distance and time have been made fairly accessible to a much wider spectrum of the population?

Issues Pages: 
Maysie Maysie's picture

Hi ebodyknows. Welcome to babble.

Because 1/4 of the world's population has no access to electricity, but can access print also known as books. These are the world's poorest countries of course.

Quote:

An estimated 79 percent of the people in the Third World -- the 50 poorest nations -- have no access to electricity, despite decades of international development work. The total number of individuals without electric power is put at about 1.5 billion, or a quarter of the world's population, concentrated mostly in Africa and southern Asia.

Unionist

ebodyknows wrote:

After all these years what makes print(even electronic print) a worthwile medium for communicating with other humans now that audio/visual communication across distance and time have been made fairly accessible to a much wider spectrum of the population?

Speaking personally, print means I don't have to listen to some idiot's voice or watch their facial foibles.

I know, sounds a tad cynical, but once you get to know me better, you'll like me even less.

I'd welcome you to babble too, but I see you've been here for 2 years. That's the power of print!

 

Maysie Maysie's picture

Re. my belated welcome:

Bacchus

Unionist wrote:

Speaking personally, print means I don't have to listen to some idiot's voice or watch their facial foibles.

I know, sounds a tad cynical, but once you get to know me better, you'll like me even less.

I'd welcome you to babble too, but I see you've been here for 2 years. That's the power of print!

 

 

Though lately I have started to really enjoy audiobooks (though only the Jim Butcher Dresden series since its excellantly done by James Marsters -Spike from Buffy). I prefer books overall though

Unionist

Audio and video stifle the imagination. Print sets it free.

 

Slumberjack

Mainstream print media in this country is certainly dead...from the neck up.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I read rather quickly. I find audio/video formats tedious when trying to inform myself on a topic.

I often find it frustrating when a rabble.ca 'article' linked on the homepage turns out to be rabbleTV - both because of the time it will consume unnecessarily to watch, and the time it will take to load.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

@Maysie: I'll take all the welcoming I can get.  I really appreciate the use of visuals, it helps animate this conversation!  I did say 'a much wider sprectrum of the population' and never intended to include the worlds poorest people in this conversation but you've got me thinking. First off I will use the word 'people' becuase there are 'countries' where some have access to electricity and telecommunications infastructure and some don't.  Second, let's allow print to include any use of ascii, newspapers, newletters, poems scribbled on napkins with a pen or pencil, linocut prints, photography,  zines and other various things besides just books(On a side note I'd be interested in seeing a cost benefits analysis comparing the vaule/cost of delivering a ton of books vs. a solar or mechanically powered e-book reader filled to capacity to remote areas).

If we must talk about pooer people, I am skeptical about your assertions that they can access print.  At least not with great frequency.  There are places in the world where books are quite rare and the concept of a daily newspaper is absurd.  For example, on the Rupununi savanah where there is only a vague hint of roads connecting different villages together the ability to deliver printed information is somewhat limited. However, solar powered radios are around in such places.

@Unionist: If they're idiot's do you still want to read whay they write?  Are you suggesting there is a level of exclusion with print media?  Are there less idiots writting and consequently less idiots who's ideas you have to suffer?  Or are you laying claim to a bagist preferance by suggesting printed communication allows you to focus on the purity of a message rather than being distracted by idyosyncratic forms personal expression? I'd like some more clarity please!

@Bacchus What do you enjoy about the audio books?  Personallay, I'll even turn on the computer voice to read something to me sometimes as I am known to work all day at a computer and starting at another flat thing is the last thing I want to do afterwards.

@Unionis again: "Audio and video stifle the imagination. Print sets it free."  I think I've heard this statement before, it's not a very imaginative response. ;-P Can you not imagine a form of audio/visual communication that inspires the imagination?  Would it not nurture an imagination of greater sophistication if we were to practice transmitting our communications through the most effective use of visual and audio we can come up with?  I don't think it would be more efficient but I don't see how limiting yourself to a medium that appeals to only one sense could require more imagination than a medium where you have to figure out how to appeal to multiple senses simultaneously.

@slumberjack what seperates mainstream media from other media in this regard?

 

Unionist

ebodyknows wrote:
... I don't see how limiting yourself to a medium that appeals to only one sense ...

 

Which "only one sense" do you believe print appeals to?

Quote:
I really appreciate the use of visuals, it helps animate this conversation!

 

All right, I'll give it a try:

 

 

Audio and video stifle the imagination.

 

 

Print sets it free.

ElizaQ ElizaQ's picture

Maysie et al make a good point about people without access to electricity in other places.

A few points. Using youtube as an example. Even here in Canada there are a great many people who do not have great access to the internet many don't at all. There are also people like me who although not low income and have internet are unable to easily access media such as youtube. I can access it this 30 second video is still loading as I write this and I only have the first 10 seconds. Give me another 5 to 10 minutes and maybe it will be done. :D I wonder if it will be worth it.

I totally agree that visual and oral forms of media are highly effective forms of communication. Commercial ads and marketing in general are good examples of just how much this is the case.

Print media such a books and even digital books which are just electric versions of print are just a different form. Others have made some points about imagination and access. Another point is the detail that is contain in print media. It is a more information dense form of communication or better it can be. For instance right now I have 3 books in front of me on the growth and cultivation of mushrooms. One book is 700 pages and contains dozens of charts and stats. Another book (500 pages) also comes with a hour long DVD that covers some of the information in the book in a visual form. It's great because I can actually see some of what the book is talking about. However if I was to compare the sheer amount detailed information contained in the DVD vs the book it came with it hardly compares at all. I'm trying to imagine what conveying all of that information through a visual and oral media would look like. For one it would take a whole lot more time. Likely hours upon hours of time. I would also likely have to write or take notes from this oral presentation as well in order for the info to be useful for what I need it for.
So sure a guy on a video backed by wicked graphics could easily rhyme off the growth parameters, yield potential and the nutritional breakdown of Agaricus brunnescens Peck and maybe it would be a bit more interesting.

Music swells in the background....

"Incubation temperature: twenty three to twenty five degrees celcius (graphic of a thermometer swirls across the screen). Relative humidity: ninety to one hundred percent (graphic of a rainforest or sweating people. Duration: Eighteen to twenty days (calendar graphic counting off the days) CO2 greater the 5000 parts per million. (some sort of funky gas cartoon) Fresh air exchanges: One per hour (some sort short film of a fan kicking and showing the air blowing something). Then the same thing for the numbers and stats on Primordia Formation, Fruitbody Development and Cropping Cycles.

Me, racing to write down all these numbers and info. Me pausing and rewinding to make sure I get it all. Me, outside and forgetting or not quite sure about something that the video said, so me going back inside, booting up the computer and searching through the DVD for the exact spot that I think that info is talked about. Me writing it down again.

Phew, sounds like a whole bunch of work and time then just having something I can flip open and read in a couple of seconds.

Unionist

ebodyknows wrote:
"Audio and video stifle the imagination. Print sets it free."  I think I've heard this statement before, it's not a very imaginative response. ;-P

Now I'm hurt. I created an original ten-word passage.

Maysie Maysie's picture

Hey ebody,

I said that people in poorer countries CAN have access to print. Not that it's in such abundance. But whatever the level of access, it's more than access to electricity.

There's a footprint for books after all, and I think in some parts of the world, the rich ones, books will go the way of the dinosaur, once we all die out.

But there's a larger footprint caused by spindles, laptops, and other electronic reading devices. They are limited that way, and not sustainable. 

So print is dead? I think it depends on what other forms one has access to, and where one lives in the world.

 

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

From the OP:

Quote:
After all these years what makes print (even electronic print) a worthwile medium for communicating with other humans now that audio/visual communication across distance and time have been made fairly accessible to a much wider spectrum of the population?

Wow. I'm not sure if this was your intention, ebody, but what you are questioning here is not the death of "print," but the death of "writing." And, well, that's just not going to happen. Ausio/visual communication was very much in vogue when writing was invented, only at the time it was called "talking to the person in front of you."

So maybe you're making the point that writing has outlived its usefulness. An interesting provocation. Maybe I'll return to it. But first: print. What is it? The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--keys, slugs, etchings, lithographs--placed in sequence to approximate meaning. Would you replace this with film? (The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--frames, images, flashes of light--placed in sequence to approximate meaning.) Recorded sound? (The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--grooves, magnetic charges, optical pits, bits and bytes--to approximate meaning.) Why would you privilege one of these media over the other? Reduced to their technological forms, there is not much light between them. Of course, the irony is that in order to have this discussion at all, we need print--although it was a nice touch to lead with a YouTube video... ;)

The debate on whether to distrust writing, to privilege it over speech has been going on since Plato. Our current culture's fascination with the visual is by no means objective--seventeenth-century England had its own obsession, even fetish, with the ocular and it is only enjoying its latest popular resurgence. Victorian England, for example, was all about the novel; Romantic England, the closet drama; Modernism, stream-of-consciousness. All textual, private worlds that established private space, female consciousness and inviolate subjectivity in the public imagination.

All of this neatly bypasses the equally cogent question on accessibility, which, as both you and Maysie point out, can prefer both print and a/v media. But mostly, the question of Print's inevitable decline will endure, as will print itself--perpetually quoting one of its great masters as it insists: "The report of my death has been greatly exaggerated."

CMOT Dibbler

There's a footprint for books after all, and I think in some parts of the world, the rich ones, books will go the way of the dinosaur, once we all die out.

By "we" do you mean the human race, or just rich northerners?

Maysie Maysie's picture

Book owners in the West and North, CMOT, or "print fetishists" as we will be known as by the younger generation.

 

Unionist

In ten words, print can outperform hours of noisy video.

Unionist

For an anti-print type, you sure use lots of words.

But it's clear now that you're confusing writing with printing.

Maysie Maysie's picture

ebodyknows wrote:
Maybe what I really should be asking is why does textual forms of communication still get so much play, What it is that text is particularly good at? and what kinds of things are better communicated in other ways?

Remember the game "Broken Telephone"? Someone whispers a phrase or sentence to a person, it gets passed, via whispering, through 10 or 15 people. Then we hear what the phrase has become. This is one of the flaws of verbal communication only.

And as for your yadda yadda through serious environmental implications (the cost, from start to finish, of the manufacturing, processing, delivering, purchasing, using, recharging, maintenance and eventual discard of any personal e-book. These are not insignificant issues. I'm concerned that you gloss over them.

And humans are social creatures. If you want us to all chop off our heads and be discombobulated machine-heads-in bubbles, that's not going to happen, globally. Phew.

         

 

remind remind's picture

Quote:
was teaching in a school a few years ago

 

Excellent example of education and no intelligence, I would say and yet it teaches. Reminds of my uncles, who most likely owe a great debt to the children of AB whom they taught nothing much to.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

ebodyknows wrote:
well we could theoretically have this discussion with people in front of us, or post mp3's but it would of course be a different discussion.

There was a young poster here by the name of Rexdale_Punjabi who used to upload audio files to the board when he became frustrated with typing--he found he could better articulate his point orally. It was a wonderful moment in my babbling life. But sadly, I think he no longer posts here.

Quote:
Maybe what I really should be asking is why does textual forms of communication still get so much play, What it is that text is particularly good at? and what kinds of things are better communicated in other ways?...Are we talking about the platos caves here?  I think we'd need to extend that from writting to any form of mediation.

Actually, I was thinking of Plato's Phaedrus, where Socrates relates the story of the invention of writing. Gods offer writing to an Egyptian King who declines the offer, deciding that humans are better off without writing because it substitutes alien inscription--lifeless signs--for the authentic living presence of spoken language. Writing, Plato tells us, won't aid memory, but rather make it irrelevant and hence cause it to atrophy. Jacques Derrida famously takes up this debate in Dissemination. Of course, Plato just distrusts poets in general--you can see that in the Republic, and in Ion. They lie, you see.

Quote:
Oh no! Please don't add fuel to the text is good for imagination fire!  But I don't know much about Victorian or Romantic England, can you give me some insights into why people in that time and place were drawn toward art that emphasised private spaces and less representational works? Is this tendancy evident on non-artistic forms of communication of the time?

I didn't say anything about text being good for the imagination--in fact, I don't see why film and audio can't be equally as good. What I said was that text helped establish social trends and consciousnesses. I could go on for pages, but briefly, since women were the primary audience of the Victorian novel, and usually retired to their room and read during leisure time, the novel--text--was largely responsible for awakening a kind of domestic solidarity in the Victorian female imagination. Furthermore, the c-19 English novel was reproduced across the British Empire, and spread the idea of the British nation--as an "imagined community"--to the new colonies, and indeed, throughout the literate public and a growing middle class.

As for evidence in non-artistic forms, I can't really speak for the nineteenth century, but in the twentieth, the popular idea that subjectivity was inviolate--that is, that your 'identity' was all in your mind--can be traced not only in the novels of the time (think of Ulysses's stream-of-consciousness) but in Freud's ego and id, in Bergson's philosophy, in popular rhetoric of republican democracy and in pretty much every facet of early c-20 Western society.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Maysie wrote:

And as for your yadda yadda through serious environmental implications (the cost, from start to finish, of the manufacturing, processing, delivering, purchasing, using, recharging, maintenance and eventual discard of any personal e-book. These are not insignificant issues. I'm concerned that you gloss over them.

ummm...despite the yadda yadda remark and my feeling that you have yet to justify how your remarks are on topic(they very well may be on topic but you haven't been very precise about how), I think I HAVE tried to talk about the environmental implications and you keep giving me these generalized remarks that don't seem to acknowledge you've actually read what I've written....maybe if you could see me and the context from which I'm writting you there would be more clues to suggest I'm a tree hugger and you wouldn't feel the need to spend so much time explaining the rudimentary concepts of ecofootpints and we could move on to the cultural appropriateness of different mediums of communication or something else globally aware like that.

 

Maysie wrote:

And humans are social creatures. If you want us to all chop off our heads and be discombobulated machine-heads-in bubbles, that's not going to happen, globally. Phew.        

Is that how I'm coming across?  Why?

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:
I didn't say anything about text being good for the imagination--in fact, I don't see why film and audio can't be equally as good.

That was me - trying to write in ten-word sentences.

All I meant was print lets you imagine sounds/sights.

Wonderful post, Catchfire - can I learn to write like that?

Unionist

Sometimes, however, print may leave too much to the imagination.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Catchfire wrote:

There was a young poster here by the name of Rexdale_Punjabi who used to upload audio files to the board when he became frustrated with typing--he found he could better articulate his point orally. It was a wonderful moment in my babbling life. But sadly, I think he no longer posts here.

Brilliant!  Typing does strike me as a physically awkward thing to impose on even an able bodied human, and personally my tendon injuries don't like it very much.

Quote:

deciding that humans are better off without writing because it substitutes alien inscription--lifeless signs--for the authentic living presence of spoken language. Writing, Plato tells us, won't aid memory, but rather make it irrelevant and hence cause it to atrophy. ... Of course, Plato just distrusts poets in general--you can see that in the Republic, and in Ion. They lie, you see.

Ya, Plato doesn't do much for my reputation as a poet or an artist....'authentic living presence' sounds very similar to walter benjermin's auras, the auras are just a bit more watered down.  But essentially I do agree with that there is no substitution for the authentic living presence of anything, but sometimes justify to myself a substitution can be quite useful when the living presence is lacking....or not what I'd prefer to experience.

Quote:

 I could go on for pages, but briefly, since women were the primary audience of the Victorian novel, and usually retired to their room and read during leisure time, the novel--text--was largely responsible for awakening a kind of domestic solidarity in the Victorian female imagination.

As for evidence in non-artistic forms, I can't really speak for the nineteenth century, but in the twentieth, the popular idea that subjectivity was inviolate--that is, that your 'identity' was all in your mind--can be traced not only in the novels of the time (think of Ulysses's stream-of-consciousness) but in Freud's ego and id, in Bergson's philosophy, in popular rhetoric of republican democracy and in pretty much every facet of early c-20 Western society.

Whoa, very interesting, but I'm not sure I'm following you here.  Are you saying that the belief was that it was impossible to alter a persons subjective identity? Or that one should not attempt to intrude on anothers subjectivity? or something completly different?

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Quote:
Whoa, very interesting, but I'm not sure I'm following you here.  Are you saying that the belief was that it was impossible to alter a persons subjective identity? Or that one should not attempt to intrude on anothers subjectivity? or something completly different?

Well, I said I'd be brief, and I'm also resisting giving a survey of modernist literature, but basically there was a shift around the end of the nineteenth century where, to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, the novelist began to hold the mirror of art not to the world without, but to illuminate the mind within. The truths we developed about life weren't some objective, realist pretension of what the world really was (think the holistic, comprehensive worlds of Tolstoy, George Eliot and Balzac) but how we perceived them. Authors articulating this shift include Woolf, Dorothy Richardson and Joyce (interestingly, stream-of-consciousness writing was far more a feminine predeliction than a masculine one). Of course this perception is no less or no more an illusion than the previous one, but it was new, and that was exciting. Literature--writing--was one of the many ways to articulate this shift. Henri Bergson's phenomenolgical philosophy--based on the precept of experience--follows this shift, as does psychoanalysis. Basically, writing became spatial--text as the page rather than the line--a life sentence, so to speak.

Unionist--I'm sure there's a Strunk & White YouTube video out there. I'll send you the link. ;)

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

@Maysie I'm not convinced. Do you really not want to give any credit to the possibility of extremly-low cost personally produced energy? I really do think physical books are more expensive,  over a long-long-long period maybe not, so if it's a masterpiece of literature that doesn't need to be updated I might agree with you but what would the value of an outdated physics book be?, I was teaching in a school a few years ago where their library consisted of books that were given to them in the 70's.  They were very dusty books, but occasionaly someone might have picked one of them up to read.  In terms of footprint, what if we consider the possibility of using discarded rich world technology(and hypothetically speaking, what if we don't take it for granted that electronic devices are designed to have a short lifespan?)?  Where I'm not speaking hypothetically is that this is something I've actually done, this same school with the 1970's dusty library also had a couple of old computers that were sent to them from the UK(they had electricity about 50% of the time but no internet in this town),  I was able to put a downloaded version of wikipedia on the computer, several science text books, the koran(by request), a handful of educational cd-roms with many visuals and animations and interactive exercises not mention programs that can replace physical hardware....Then there are was the locally produced hand printed material....do you have any idea the amount of effort, time and organization that goes into producing a school time table by hand? Or how much tension can be created when one of the senior big shots takes the report card book home so he can fill it out at his leisure while the others have only a few days to write in their marks? 

@ElizaQ - be imaginative, think radio, telephone, portable devices with images you want to see already downloaded onto them, think about what can work in your situation rather than what doesn't work, think appropriate methods of conveying the information you are interested in(just because we are accostemed to poorly produced a/v content does not me that is the way it must be).  I agree a DVD is probably not appropriate for conveying that kind of info.  Also, Think about me cycling to algonquin park and getting lost because a man on a bike can only carry so much stuff and the map I had did not do a particularly good job at illustrating one turn(I still don't have a GPS device, probably something to do with footprint and what not but I also haven't attempted any new bike rides into unpopulated areas)...also think about me trying to eat mushrooms in the bush(not that i've tried to do this, but i've eaten plants I've identified with google images), I have printed identification guides, I have photocopy handouts from the toronto mycology society listing commonly found mushroom for my region by season, however, I've never been certain about a mushroom yet without doing further research and looking at many, many more pictures.

 

So far I'm getting we like print because:

of speed in asertaining fact based information(are we willing to sacrifice quality?),

some people are not currently making electricity, and sustainability/footprint yadadayada etc.

we were told by someone(s) that books are good for imagination. (and that unionist in particular is fond of clichés :-P )

 

 

 

remind remind's picture

This issue is we need to stop using trees for paper and start using hemp fibre, as opposed to getting rid of "print" books, etc.

 

Unionist

Catchfire wrote:

Unionist--I'm sure there's a Strunk & White YouTube video out there. I'll send you the link. ;)

Laughing

Too late, I read it decades ago, but it never sank in.

And to my shock, there are lots of YouTube items inspired (loosely) by S&W - [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0MIdOLfw64]just one example[/url] - and even a band called [url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tp3KPVKHd9E&feature=related]Elements of Style[/url].

Unionist

Ten words are not enough to stream most people's consciousness.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Maysie wrote:

         

My favorite poem of the moment:

Une oie des neiges est passée, tête fière, bec levé, rondeurs étirées, de l'air plein les plumes.  Elle volé long. temps,  prenant tout le temps de me traverser. En partant, elle a laissé du ciel ici. Bleu, blanc, gris. J'y flotte encore, ravi.

Quand c'est le petit singe qui me traverser et reste là un moment, dans l'espace où je sais vivre vraiment, tout est remué et j'en deviens chatouilleux, pas seulement la peau, mais le nez, les pieds, les yeux me démangent, et alors je souris pour absolument rien et ça me crée des problèmes dans cette région peuplée de robots.

Si c'est le tigre qui passe par là, si je griffe quelqu'un, forcément, les extraterrestres, les robots, les plus branchés des mortels, tous, ou en tout cas, quelqu'un, tôt ou tard, aura raison de moi.

J'aime mieux l'oie des neiges, plus discrète. On ne peut pas dire que ça parait. La plupart du temps, personne ne remarque rien.  Le pire qui peut arriver, c'est de me faire demander : « Pourquoi es-tu triste ? » Et alors, je ne réponds pas; qu'est-ce je pourrais répondre? je laisse le paysage la où il est, et l'oie le traverser. je n'ai pas de réponse à donner. Il me faudrait parler brume et plume, neige et envolée.  Et même si j'avais les mots, si je les trouvais, qui comprendrait?

Hélène Monette -Un jardin dans la nuit.

Apologies if this isn't very accesible, I don't want to translate it at the moment. 

Overcoming language issues may very well be a good use of print(if your target audience is literate), I was talking to an environmentalist in cameroon(home of 230 languages) about the difficulty in disseminating enviromental messages by radio/television.  Although I imagine some messages can be transmited without language I'm not sure how detailed we can get doing that while still maintaining a reasonable level of efficiancy...

Catchfire wrote:
to paraphrase Virginia Woolf, the novelist began to hold the mirror of art not to the world without, but to illuminate the mind within. The truths we developed about life weren't some objective, realist pretension of what the world really was (think the holistic, comprehensive worlds of Tolstoy, George Eliot and Balzac) but how we perceived them. Authors articulating this shift include Woolf, Dorothy Richardson and Joyce (interestingly, stream-of-consciousness writing was far more a feminine predeliction than a masculine one).

I picked up a stream of conciousness book and found this:

"What is a mirror? It's the only invented material that is natural.  Anyone who looks into a mirror, who succeeds in seeing it without seeing himself, who understands that its depth consists of its being empty, who walks inside its transparent space without leaving in it a trace of his own image-that someone has then perceived its mystery as thing. That's why you have to surprise it when it's alone, when it's hung in an empty room, without forgetting that in front of it the most fragile needle could transform it into the simple image of a needle, so sensitive is the mirror in its quality of very light reflection, only image and not the substance. The body of the thing.

In painting it, I needed all my own delicacy not to cross it with my image, since in the mirror in which I see myself I already am, only an empty mirror is a living mirror.  Only a very delicate person can walk into the empty room where there's an empty mirror and with such grace, with such absence of self, that the image does not register. As a reward, that delicate person will then have penetrated into one of the inviolable secrets of things: he saw the mirror as it is."

Clarice Lispector - Agua viva : translated by Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz

I think she may have developed upon woolfs idea in an interesting way. (I wonder if 'without seeing himself' was gender neutral in the portugues)

Quote:
This issue is we need to stop using trees for paper and start using hemp fibre, as opposed to getting rid of "print" books, etc.

That'd be swell, but it might not be all bad to have a smaller army of hipsters filling landfills and china with the electronic devices they use to casually surf the web while sipping lattees at the local coffee shop and more electronic devices(On retrouve l'entrevue à 30min:45sec du début de l'émission) in the hands of coffee bean pickers who might use them to do real things.

al-Qa'bong

While the consciousness

of some flow into low spots

like stagnant puddles.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture
Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Achingly beautiful

Fotheringay-Phipps

Print, and in particular the codex format, will survive because it's superior technology. I can see that for short articles or postings like this, an audio-visual format might work well. But if you're going to live with a work, become aware of its internal rhymes, the way an image or idea can create ripples of meaning through the whole structure, then you have to  get the book.  Reading online simply doesn't allow the same ability to swoop, skip, hover, select and restructure that old-fashioned print does. In general, the more complex a work, the more necessary print becomes. I generally read newspaper articles online. I prefer to read magazine articles on paper, but will read online if necessary. But I insist on print for Bleak House.

I think Turing was the first to figure out that electronic documents would in fact re-create the scroll with all its virtues and faults. At this point the codex is still undisputedly the most appropriate format for conveying complex thoughts and structures.

Forgive the whimsy:

It is 1118 AD, a busy  market square in Paris. Chickens squawk, stray dogs rush about snapping up unguarded food, and vendors and buyers bawl out to each other. Suddenly a hush creeps over the crowd as two men, strangers here, make their way to the foot of the market cross. One is younger. He wears casually elegant clothes and his hair has evidently been cut by a good barber-surgeon. His companion, a few years older, has obviously chopped his own locks with a bread knife and wears a tunic that would be unfashionable even in Rouen. His hose are a shade of russet that screams 1109. When they see they have the attention of the crowd, they start to speak.

"Hi," says the older man. "I'm a scroll."

"And I'm a codex," says the younger. "How's it going with your indexing problems, scroll?"

"Hmph. We'll have it solved any day now."

"And how about reading in bed..."

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:
At this point the codex is still undisputedly the most appropriate format for conveying complex thoughts and structures.

Sorry, Phippy, but this is a completely arbitrary, even nostalgic (i.e. impossible) claim. I think it would be difficult to write as complex a codex as Picasso's Guernica--at least as difficult as it would be to make a film of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Different ideas lend themselves to different forms; or, even better, ideas find themselves as completely different creatures depending on the form in which they are manifested. As all good McLuhanites know, the medium is the massage.

Fotheringay-Phipps

But only the codex format can encapsulate the Critique of Pure Reason. And I hate to say it, but all thinking aspires to the condition of literature, to mangle a quotation. Sure, you can say that Guernica is complex, but it's not a work that demands attention in a sequential, ordered fashion. A better example might be, say, Brahms' Fourth Symphony. You can appreciate its internal consistency and remorseless logic sitting in a concert hall or in front of a home stereo. But if you're serious about music, sooner or later you'll buy the score. It may be wordless (aside form a few directions in Italian) but it illuminates the structure of the music in a way that listening doesn't, in part because it uses the traditional codex format. Is that entry in the horns an augmentation of the main theme? Flip back a few pages --aha! it is! Even artists who can read a work's deep structure at a single listening know that nothing replaces a patient study of the score.

Ditto for films. The commentary tracks on DVD's are enlightening (and a cheap way to get an appreciation of film you couldn't imagine a generation ago) but eventually, if the film is near enough to your heart, you'll want to buy or borrow a copy of the shooting script, the document that is the foundation for the visual geniuses who direct movies.

And I notice that at Stratford, where they present sometimes brilliantly imagined productions that are completely fulfilling and moving in themselves, there's always a steady stream of customers at the theatre bookshop buying --well, you know what they're buying. (Besides "First thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" T-shirts.)

That said, nobody is seriously claiming that we should "read" The Jack Pine in book form. But if the medium informs the content of a work, it follows that you can't take what has traditionally been done in codex format and export it to electronic formats without seriously degrading the experience of the "reader". The book is here to stay.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:

but it's not a work that demands attention in a sequential, ordered fashion.

I think that's exactly the point cathfire wants to make. sequential ordering is a mess age of the codex format.

Why is this condition preferable to others?

The whimsy is certainly appreciated by me.

Did you really imply that modern scrolls(electronic documents) have indexng problems?

Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:
Is that entry in the horns an augmentation of the main theme? Flip back a few pages --aha! it is!

I'm interpreting this example as echoing some of the previous sentiments in this thread that have identified text as superior in efficiently ascertaining information....there might be something to this but I'm not totally sure exactly what kind of information...or what role social conditioning might play in being able to pick up on patterns better in certain formats...I'd certainly pick up on musical patterns better if a song was described in numerical terms than with musical notation. 

and I go back to wondering what it is that lispector is doing in the mirror pasage above, though the words flow in a uni-directional stream I am not sure sequential order is very important to what it evokes, it is totaly irrational as far as it can be considered a piece of information, but it does seems to "illuminate the mind within" in a way I'm not sure I would want to attempt any other way.

Fotheringay-Phipps wrote:
if the medium informs the content of a work, it follows that you can't take what has traditionally been done in codex format and export it to electronic formats without seriously degrading the experience of the "reader". The book is here to stay.

I agree about exporting....but the difference between reading a book on a page and on a screen is not of the same importance to me.  I read the count of monte cristo on a laptop when I lived far away from any libraries and could only carry so many things at a time, and yes it was a drag when the power went out and I couldn't read...but I couldn't read a book in the dark anyway(well, ok, I did sometimes with my magneticly powered flashlight..and yes you wake up at dawn anyway when you live in plcees like that. )...the words and the story were what was important and I can't say I paid much attention to the fact that I was scrolling(or clicking next links) rather than turning pages...I will say my laptop screen held itself up and was thus more comfortable for my arms(including my injured tendon) even in bed.  I do think the historical context was more important in influencing my response to the work.  I don't think I responded to it the same way readers in 1844 did.  It doesn't mean I think there is any value in making a movie of the book, but it also doesn't necessatate that the format holds more than historical or nostalgic value.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Catchfire wrote:

Wow. I'm not sure if this was your intention, ebody, but what you are questioning here is not the death of "print," but the death of "writing." And, well, that's just not going to happen. Ausio/visual communication was very much in vogue when writing was invented, only at the time it was called "talking to the person in front of you."

I'd be happy to entertain the notion of talking to the person in front of you as a non-mediated form of a/v communication and will even accept people as a mediated way to communicate to other people over distance and time.

Catchfire wrote:

So maybe you're making the point that writing has outlived its usefulness. An interesting provocation. Maybe I'll return to it. But first: print. What is it? The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--keys, slugs, etchings, lithographs--placed in sequence to approximate meaning. Would you replace this with film? (The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--frames, images, flashes of light--placed in sequence to approximate meaning.) Recorded sound? (The mechanical reproduction of a series of fragments--grooves, magnetic charges, optical pits, bits and bytes--to approximate meaning.) Why would you privilege one of these media over the other? Reduced to their technological forms, there is not much light between them.

Good point. I believe the essence of what you are saying is at the heart of my desire to confuse print with writting/drawing. Basically I guess I feel that both have to do with the mechanical reproducability of text/still images.   Maybe what I really should be asking is why do textual forms of communication still get so much play, What it is that text is particularly good at? and what kinds of things are better communicated in other ways?

Catchfire wrote:

Of course, the irony is that in order to have this discussion at all, we need print--although it was a nice touch to lead with a YouTube video... ;)

;) well we could theoretically have this discussion with people in front of us, or post mp3's but it would of course be a different discussion.

Catchfire wrote:

The debate on whether to distrust writing, to privilege it over speech has been going on since Plato.

Are we talking about the platos caves here?  I think we'd need to extend that from writting to any form of mediation.

Catchfire wrote:

Our current culture's fascination with the visual is by no means objective--seventeenth-century England had its own obsession, even fetish, with the ocular and it is only enjoying its latest popular resurgence. Victorian England, for example, was all about the novel; Romantic England, the closet drama; Modernism, stream-of-consciousness. All textual, private worlds that established private space, female consciousness and inviolate subjectivity in the public imagination.

Oh no! Please don't add fuel to the text is good for imagination fire!  But I don't know much about Victorian or Romantic England, can you give me some insights into why people in that time and place were drawn toward art that emphasised private spaces and less representational works? Is this tendancy evident on non-artistic forms of communication of the time?

 

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture
ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

ebodyknows wrote:

 It doesn't mean I think there is any value in making a movie of the book, but it also doesn't necessatate that the format holds more than historical or nostalgic value.

"What do you think the next big book will be, I ask Sun Dew one day, as
we are sitting on a boulder a little distance from the foot of our granite
mountain, Birrabimurra, drinking green tea. What do you mean, “big
book”, she asks, her bird-brown gaze resting on me as she hesitates,
about to take a sip of tea. Oh, I mean the kind of book that makes a
breakthrough in the history of ideas—that shifts the whole big freight-
train of human thought onto a new track. Examples? she asks. The sun
is still quite hot, though it is late afternoon. We have fallen into the
pattern that is usual with us out here, of saying only as much as is
necessary. Well, I mused, Plato’s Republic, Laozi and Zhuangzi,
Descartes’ Meditations, Newton’s Principia, Spinoza’s Ethics, Kant’s
Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit . . . hmm,
maybe something of Schelling’s . . . umm, it does get harder to say
what they are after that . . . "

Okay, my monthly storytelling circle meets on tuesday so I was looking for a story on intuition(this months theme), but instead I ended up finding a story in an eco-philosophy journal on the importance of the context in which we share stories.

"...and such narrative ceremonial, and the
poetic collaboration with world it entails provides the context for all
further knowing. The collaboration is the primary datum. Books will be
subsequent to this datum. "

Which means I'm still looking for a story on intuition.  Anyone got any ideas?

 

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Quote:
Manovich argues for a move from a concern with data representation as a visual issue, which I would point out takes place always at the user interface or first tier, to a concern with the portrayal of human subjectivity amidst big data:

For me, the real challenge of data art is not about how to map some abstract and impersonal data into something meaningful and beautiful -- economists, graphic designers, and scientists are already doing this quite well. The more interesting and at the end maybe more important challenge is how to represent the personal subjective experience of a person living in a data society. If daily interaction with volumes of data and numerous messages is part of our new "data-subjectivity," how can we represent this experience in new ways? How new media can represent the ambiguity, the otherness, the multi-dimensionality of our experience, going beyond already familiar and "normalized" modernist techniques of montage, surrealism, absurd, etc.? In short, rather than trying hard to pursue the anti-sublime ideal, data visualization artists should also not forget that art has the unique license to portray human subjectivity -- including its fundamental new dimension of being "immersed in data." 

from here: http://www.intelligentagent.com/archive/Vol4_No4_freerad_afterlandart_stalbaum.htm

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

A friend of mine does digtal art that creates visualizations of data. He's used twitter, internet traffic and even the data provided by the Vancouver water quality department. This is a neat articulation of the kind of concepts he was working with.

George Victor

Just can't wait to read Jaron Lanier's You Are Not a Gadget, an experience reviewed by the Glober's Ian Brown :

... Lanier's "main conclusiion is undeniable: Society is being bossed around by a band of 'cybernetic totalists' or 'digital Maoists' who believe their beloved engineering system is more valuable than the humans it's supposed to serve. (Cue the political process enacted on YouTube.) If that sound totalitarian, it's because it is."

Quoting Lanier: "The mere possibility of there being something ineffable about personhood is what drives many technologists to reject the notion of quality."

 

Lanier, the chap who coined "virtual reality" for us to read, also does wonders for my imagination with the word "ineffable", whenever I see twisted-knicker attempts at describing sensation that do not agree with personal experience (limited as it is). These days, Greg Mortenson' s ghost-written works are cutting through mountains of crap about Afghanistan and Pakistan. Simple descriptions of reality that invite you to investigate - like Rory Stewart's The Places in Between.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

George Victor wrote:

 Simple descriptions of reality that invite you to investigate.

As I don't think recreating a subjective experience is possible that just might be the highest purpose we can hope for data(digital or otherwise) to serve.

It's been the trend on the internet to recognize the importance of subjective data for quite some time.  There are certainly economic/marketing reasons that make user generated content attractive to web developers and while the greater diversity of opinions you can get on something you don't know much about is evidently attractive to me I also do like having the data of subjective experiences of other people who have experienced data I have experienced as well.  I believe other people like it too. I imagine this is why book clubs and literary criticism was invented long before the advent of web 2.0.  But I'm not entierly sure why we like it.

George Victor

Maybe it's ineffable?

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I can't tell if that is a hat or a boa constrictor who swallowed an elephant...

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

edit: soory posted in wrong topic

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

:)

hmmm....Whether good or bad it is the time we have wasted for our data that makes it important.  Catchfires post doesn't tell me anything about hs subjective experience with the book I referenced but it stll made me smile because I now know we have wasted time on the same data.

ebodyknows ebodyknows's picture

so when the cbc was trying to stick the print vs digital debate into our national identity(rather than the text vs. audio/visual communication dichotomy I prefer) all i could do was daydream about contexts for thinking.  Regardless of where you get your information/inputs(Should it be a violation of copyright laws for me to give you gramatical possesion of someone elses ideas or is it rather a form of plagarism you are willing to accept?) what context do you position yourself in in(are two successive 'in's grammatically correct? Or do you subscribe to the faith that 'in which context will you position yourself in.." is less awkward?) order to think/process your ideas/outputs?

where do you go?

image from 'the places you'll go' by dr. suess.

Given the difficulty in obtaining information from all possible perspectives and therefore the difficulty in being able to trust any one perspective in these times of shrugging nationalism are you tempted or have you given in to the urge to just pick a spot, take a stance and remain confident while the comfort of that which you know relaxes into the blossoming of a particular belief or are you a pollinator?

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