"The Gutenberg Elegies" by Sven Birkerts

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke@anu.edu.au
Sat, 12 Oct 1996 11:49:04 +1000


Kevin Patrick wrote:
>the book as a cultural artifact. (The irony of course being that
>Spender/Birkerts and others have chosen to convey these prophecies of doom
>via the printed word, rather than through its electronic counterpart).

Since irony is central to the discussion, don't forget to add Negroponte's
'Being Digital' to the list.  In that case, the book's title and form
constructed an oxymoron worthy of comparison with Magritte's 'c'est ne pas
un pipe' (apologies if I mucked up the syntax ...).

The 'the book is dead' / 'no, books are flourishing' argument was also
central to the VALA conference last January.  It looks like we're now
getting on with a much more useful contingency theory approach, i.e. when
and for what are each of the available media appropriate.

Which will then lead us back to:  what are the various users' requirements,
in various settings;  and how can be design better media.  (Surprise,
surprise, Dynabook with a floppy screen that you can read in a bathtub
without electrocuting yourself will soon be re-discovered).


Roger Clarke              http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel:  +61  6  288 6916                       Fax:   +61  6  288 1472

Visiting Fellow, Faculty of          Email:  Roger.Clarke@anu.edu.au
    Engineering and Information Technology
Information Sciences Building Room 211       Tel:   +61  6  249 3666
The Australian National University
Canberra   ACT   0200   AUSTRALIA            Fax:   +61  6  249 0010