Saturday, July 17, 2010

From reading to watching to ....

I really enjoyed this article from Kevin Kelley in Smithsonian magazine about the past and the future of reading. He says:
In books we find a revealed truth; on the screen we assemble our own truth from pieces. On networked screens everything is linked to everything else. The status of a new creation is determined not by the rating given to it by critics but by the degree to which it is linked to the rest of the world.
Just as technology in some ways followed, and in some ways caused, the shift to modernism, so also technology both follows and causes the shift to post-modernism. Fascinating stuff. (H/T Daniel Martin)


  1. Not sure I buy his account of reading books as "find[ing] a revealed truth". Can you explain what he means by this?

  2. Byron,

    I must confess I grinned a huge grin in response to your question. Now I must ask: you are poking fun, right?

  3. Well, I wasn't actually intending to poke fun. It just seems to me that reading is as much assembling an understanding from pieces as film is finding a revealed truth.

  4. Byron,

    Oh, sorry!

    I hope it makes sense how it struck me funny. It was the juxtaposition of the author talking about how one reads books to find a revealed truth, and the way in which your question could be interpreted as seeking revealed truth.

    If that doesn't make sense, then sorry and never mind--I have a wierd sense of humor.

    It seems to me that maybe he's talking about the way in which books, by their nature, are more permanent than web pages, so that in some sense some "truth" standard has to be met before they are published, and thus they are more looked at, or ... perhaps at least *used* to be more looked at, as sources of reasonably trustworthy "truth"/information. Plus books are *longer*, so they are sort of expected to have some sort of thesis/"revealed truth". Whereas web based stuff is shorter, less likely to have a thesis, less inherently trustworthy somehow, and ... so forth--on the web, you have to start out with your own thesis, and assemble the bits, work which a book does more of for you?

    That was the sense I got from him, at least. Hope that doesn't just muddle the waters more. =)

    I'm delighted that you're reading and responding! =)

    How's Europe? I'm loving Melbourne =)

  5. but we don't NEED technology to be postmodern - look at all the less industrialised, traditional cultures who've not experienced modernity, and whose values - interaction, communication with each other, community - are very postmodern. I'm going to send you a message by firestick, saying BWA ILY L MAJA