Sunday, February 19, 2012

Drifting Into Digitization

You may have missed this, but Sideline Music Magazine has announced that by the end of this year most major labels will have abandoned the Compact Disc. Not that this should be a surprise to anyone who has tried looking for a recent release at one of their local outlets. From now on, if you want to buy music, you're going to have to either stream it or download it.

This is also the future of the film industry. And certainly books. Of course, there are those who will go into this future raging against the dying of the light. Johnathan Franzen, for instance, who responded in an interview with The Guardian, "Maybe nobody will care about printed books 50 years from now, but I do. When I read a book, I'm handling a specific object in a specific time and place. The fact that when I take the book off the shelf it still says the same thing – that's reassuring."

Perhaps the most persuasive argument against the digitization of our world is offered by a friend of mine, Jon Zech, author of Buck and Tangee: Things That Happen (a book to be released later this year).

"Some day anthropologists will look at our leavings and wonder what happened. Why did our civilization suddenly stop producing anything artistic after the first decade or so of the twenty first century? One can't conduct carbon testing on bits and bytes. We're all really just one giant electromagnetic pulse away from a new Dark Ages, aren't we?"


Anonymous said...

Jon's comment is something I've thought about before. Can you imagine having an age without the printed word? Future archeologists will say, "Well, they couldn't have been very bright. They couldn't even read."

Joe Ponepinto said...

Make that two ragers against the digital future. Not that I don't spend all day on my computer, reading and writing, but when I finish a story or essay, I prefer it to be published in print. Seeing the printed journal on my bookshelf gives me a feeling of the permanence of my work, and lets me know there is a chance my ideas will live on long after I'm gone. Digital has its place--when it comes to raw information and immediacy it can't be matched-- but when it comes to something of deeper meaning, I'd rather see it in a physical book.

Charles Gramlich said...

hum, John has a point.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Jon's comment is certainly worth noting, as Christine, Charles, and Joe would nod their heads in agreement. That being said, there's something about a genie and a bottle. I think we've lost the stopper.