June 14, 2013

On drinking from the hose pipe and the resurgence of reading from print

Emily Rhodes in the Spectator begins her recent essay, 'The Special power of the printed word' by confronting the dilemma the modern Internet user and reader faces: trying to ingest material from a never ending spray of links, stories, blogs and breaking news, memes, cat videos and so on. She says:
"I wonder if we don’t all feel rather overwhelmed by the huge number of articles online. There is simply too much to read – an infinite, impossible amount – and in a veritable forest of links, it becomes hard to see the wood for the trees."
Her answer: the traditional printed word.
"Print conveys a certain authority on words, and perhaps even a short book has more clout than a digital essay. Penguin Specials offer more depth than a newspaper or magazine article, and yet their brevity makes them less intimidating than a weighty tome. They are a winningly approachable means of getting a digestible, insightful briefing on a vital, current issue."
And there's demand for the printed word. The Penguin Specials which went out of print in the 1980s are coming back. In an age where digital has supposedly killed the print media star it runs against the rhythm of play. But it's so - there is a demand for the printed word. Over to Emily again:
"After twenty-five years of dormancy, it would seem that once again there is a demand for a short, reliable, printed briefing on a current issue, in spite of the proliferation of online information and eBooks."
Spectator essay in full here.

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