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Adventures in Paper Print

My disaffection for paper print and manuscript has been building, I suppose, from the very first time I ever tried to start a journal. In my second year of Junior High, I tried to start a journal using one of those boxy cassette tape recorders that resembled an oversized tricorder. It had one of those "condenser" microphones, and my brother and I nearly peed our pants banging on that mic and howling neither quite in tune nor exactly on time.

At the end of my graduate work, I spent a bit of time getting better acquainted with UNIX and tag sets and PERL. Many of the skills I acquired at the Electronic Text Center help me on a daily basis. Without question, digital print is much more malleable than paper print. I also think my reading speed in digital print is close to my reading speed for paper texts. I have long ago jettisoned the sentimental notions surrounding the codex book form as "cozy," "comforting," and "beautiful." I think of paper books as enormous wastes of resources—environmentally destructive, informationally inert, and transportationally cumbersome.

Even worse are the popular texts, such as any play by Shakespeare, that are reproduced literally billions of times in many millions of locations. Just how many copies of James Joyce's Ulysses need to be extant?

Given my rejection of paper as a medium, I am not one bit surprised to find it creeping back into my life. I am not surprised by my wanting to finish William Gibson's Spook Country by turning a series of paper leaves.

I even found something that made me smile:

"Meet Archie," said Alberto.

Ten feet above the orange tape outline, the glossy, grayish-white form of a giant squid appeared, about ninety feet in total length, its tentacles undulating gracefully. "Architeuthis," Bobby said. Its one visible eye was the size of an SUV tire. "Skins," Bobby said.

The squid's every surface flooded with light, subcutaneous pixels sliding past in distorted video imagery, stylized kanji, wide eyes of anime characters. It was gorgeous, ridiculous. She laughed, delighted. (55)

I'm enjoying reading this book, this toxically produced print artifact. end of article

Works Cited
Gibson, William. Spook Country. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2007.



Hmmm... sure digital is more malleable, but you can't possibly mean computers are more practical than books... not everyone has access to a computer, or a fast computer. And, it's not just that a book is cozy- you can transport to say, Brazil, whereas you'll leave your laptop at home.

Are you talking about those weird little computer books that I saw at Borders? They're book size and can hold 400 books; I don't know too many details. I do agree that books waste paper, but that's what libraries are for. And c'mon, reading is so important for society... if people prefer holding books in their hands, and want to read them at the beach, in bed, or in the front yard while walking the dog, well, that's why we need paper books. Now, if you mean professors who make packets for students, that's different. In specialized communities like work or school, where everyone has access to a computer, digital distribution does make the most sense.

I like your writing bc it makes me learn new words, like codex. But here's what Wiki says:
"Although technically any modern paperback is a codex, the term is only used for manuscript (hand-written) books, produced from Late Antiquity through the Middle Ages." I've been out of academia for (EEEEK!!!!) ten years, so maybe ya'll are using some new fancy lingo. Sigh. I miss that about college. Fricative. Fricative. I don't like that most people I meet don't know that word.


Looks like this "Kindle" is trying to make books electronic. Interesting article:
about the shortcomings of the idea.

I do think we're on the way to an electronic "book" that will be more affordable (the Kindle is 400$
and possibly allow users to download books like in iTunes.

Speaking of 400 $, that's what an iPhone goes for, and so many more people will buy that. Most people only read short snippets of info these days. I myself have not read a book in two months, ruining my 20-30 books a year average. Who knows- maybe the kindle could get me if I knew it offered the books I would want...


Oh my god. I just skimmed the comments above, and was going to say that the reader above had a great point about the iPhone and how most ppl just read short comments, but then I realized that I wrote it. No, that post sounds too smart to be me. I have to assume you know two people named Kristine.

Cool article about how to make a paperless office, and the philosophy/history of that idea: