Media Wineskins by S. M. Hutchens

Media Wineskins

S. M. Hutchens on the Electronic Book & Its Kin

I am used to paper books, and prefer them to words on a screen for reasons that can be guessed—and will not be rehearsed in this essay composed with the aid of a word processor. The library world in which I work has been a good place to observe debates between the partisans of paper and electronic imaging, the strongest suit of the former probably being that the book in codex form—sheets bound together at one side—is in some sense, real but difficult to define, more natural or humane than screen projections.

The other side answers that whatever one might say for the old technology, there’s no way to stop the new, which is replete with desirable qualities of its own, qualities which, once introduced, become necessary for competence in the modern world. They are typically convinced that all non-imaginary problems in these areas can be advanced over, and to the point where reality meets the dreams of technological optimism, I think they’re probably right.

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S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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