Over the last three years I have had occasional “musings” about our digital information age and even ventured forth with a few comments…
2010– 2011…Time for a new route or an old rut?
2011–My Book My Record…Thriving Analog Artifacts in a Digital World?
2012– Digital Books…the next generation reading format?
In keeping with this three-year tradition, I offer a few thoughts for 2013
As Bob Dylan might have put it: “The Times And Media, They Are A-Changin'”
2013 is a year in which the “digitizing” and electronic distribution of text and image media will proceed apace. More and more people will be using their phones, tablets, e-readers, and laptops to create and distribute, text, photos and videos…and to secure their news, not to mention directions to the nearest store having the object of their heart’s desire on sale…at the lowest price.
As a consequence, the future of print media in 2013…the latest 2014, perhaps…does not look particularly promising. For example, the December 31, 2012 print edition of Newsweek was its last. Starting in 2013, readers will be able to access the magazine only by subscribing to online delivery. For a detailed explanation of this decision, go to A New Chapter…Sometimes change isn’t just good, it’s necessary. One wonders whether Time magazine will be far behind.
At the local level we still have print editions of The Press Democrat and the Petaluma Argus Courier, with no notice, as of the time of this writing, that they will cease. However, there has been discussion of charging for online content at one or both of these publications. Advance notice, perhaps, that the print editions are in jeopardy?
Change is inevitable and inexorable. The movement to exclusive online distribution of stories and news will, in my opinion, change the nature and character of the content. My view is perhaps conditioned by the fact that I am used to reading long articles such as the recent 14 page section in the New York Times presenting a single story complete with several large photographs. In a world where it is difficult to get many to click beyond one or two screen pages, writing such as this will not survive. I, for one, will miss it.
In one sense the rapid changes in media are an affirmation of Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism: “The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.”
Oh to be sure there will be an ever increasing volume of information coming to us on our various electronic devices and small screens in the years ahead. However, I for one will cling to the New York Times Sunday print edition for as long as it is available. As for Newsweek, I will miss it and will not subscribe online. This is not out of spite. It is simply that online reading of long articles is not something I particularly care to do.
What will happen to text, I think, is what has already happened to photos. See Many More Images, Much Less Meaning.
We face, I suspect, a future of endless communication…with less information.