Monday, January 07, 2013

Books, literature, platforms, the Borg

Two blog posts struck my interest recently.  The first is on Nick Carr's blog "Rough Type" here and the second is Michael Sacasas' blog The Frailest Thing here.
In Carr's post he engages with Author Clay Shirky about the development of books, discussing how literature fits into this discussion and whether it is fair to think of a printed book as merely a "platform", titling the post "Containers and their contents".  In Sacasas' post, he elaborates the symptoms of what he terms "The Borg Complex" in which technological determinism is used to argue that "resistance is futile".

I think its good to keep an eye on our own patterns of reading and engagement with different art forms.  If technology changes these patterns, we should at least have an awareness of whether it is changing in a reasonably beneficial way.  I realize, for example, that since spending a lot more time reading text in a web browser than printed out, that I read a lot more, and more shallowly.  For some purposes, this is beneficial.  The other difficulty with reading many small tidbits based on hyperlinks is the sense of losing the trail in the forest.  Its a whole new set of skills that are required to keep track and consolidate and reference material one finds online.  Search engines (mainly Google) give the feeling that nothing is ever lost.  But in order to build understanding oneself, one does need to be able to create one's own archive and referencable material.  Saying "Google it" is not an adequate response to referencing.