FIRST—It was charcoal drawings on a cave wall (a precursor to modern graffiti)
NEXT—It was writing on scrolls
THEN CAME—The Codex or, if you prefer, the bound book, magazine, or newspaper
TODAY—We move to digital text?
Delivering the “written word” digitally, as opposed to hard copy books, magazines, or newspapers is touted as the next generation in publication, replacing the codex (a.k.a. books & magazines) which has prevailed since the Middle Ages. There is considerable speculation that books and book stores may become obsolete. See The Bookstore’s Last Stand
By way of a brief history, the codex replaced the cumbersome scroll as a means of recording and publishing information. It was considered a major advance as the pages were written on both sides and could hold twice as much information and text as the cumbersome scroll. It also allowed the reader quick access to any part of the publication by simply turning or marking a page.
The codex or book, if you will, was the breakthrough technology of its day.
- I suspect that the transition from the scroll to the codex may have presented some initial difficulties for scholars and monks. Change is always a bit of a challenge regardless of the time or place!
- To reinforce the point, consider the situation portrayed in this Medieval Help Desk video when a monk sought technical advice on how to use the new book technology.
Turning now to the 21st Century, it has now been a little over two weeks since I announced that we acquired an e-book reader in All A Twitter Over Our New Kindle.
So how are we doing?
I was somewhat skeptical about the utility of the device; however, I must confess that while there have been some initial challenges in learning how to use it (climbing the learning curve, if you will), we enjoy it. I admit to having a certain amount of sympathy with the monk in the video learning to use the new book technology as we were similarly “challenged” for a few days by the Kindle. But we are well past all of that and are “experienced” users.
On the positive side I can report that it is quite easy to read and operate. It is also quite convenient if one does not want to tote around one or more books on a trip. As with most such devices, you can also subscribe to your favorite magazines and newspapers. Some local libraries are also making books available for e-reader users.
On the negative side, I find that the e-reader lacks the visual impact of a full page layout in a magazine or newspaper. In addition, the scanning and skipping around with your eyes, fingers, and thumbs while reading a “traditional” publication is a bit clunky. It is a bit of a regression, in a sense, to the limitations of the scroll when it comes to accessing specific pages or sections. However, for straight ahead or linear reading without jumping around it is first rate.
NOTE: I somehow managed to put the Kindle down long enough to go outside and play with my camera toys. To view my latest attempts at photography, go to Photos from the street…