But T, why equate Kindle with digital technology? That a poodle is a dog, does not make every dog a poodle. Kindle is just one of many ways of outputting digital content. Others are POD books, other e-books and readers, audio and visual recordings distributed on disks, sticks and the internet. If, as you point out, the Kindle is not sufficiently enabling for readers and writers its success will be duly limited to those who figure they are better than others because they value the limitations.
As for libraries, they ARE becoming digital resource centres where people can access digital content via their own devices or those they borrow from the library (as they borrowed printed books in the past.)
And, not that it's terribly relevant, but to limit communication to the spoken word is, well, a failure to communicate. Music is communication, even without the lyrics. Mathematics is a language of communication. Pantomime is communication. Fashion is communication. Dogs sniff butt to communicate. For them the urine left at fire hydrants carries the neighbourhood news. The badly translated assembly instructions that come with IKEA furniture are communications. They communicate, eventually, how to put the damned stuff together so I can finally sit on it. Product packaging is covered in communications that express the manufacturers' desires that I buy their stuff. Advertising is communication. Graphic art is communication. You don't feel a need to communicate? Then why have you responded to my points, or any others on RARA for that matter? If you don't communicate, then how DO you express yourself?
This e-mail is a communication. It is not necessarily noir.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Sunday, November 15, 2009 4:20 PM
Subject: RARA-AVIS: Re: state of NY publishing
Kerry, let me answer as concisely as I can. The Kindle is disabling compared to the book because I cannot make or fix (or run) a Kindle by myself, whereas anyone can make a book by himself. Any time you add a layer of intermediate complexity, you disable people. I don't think this can be argued with.
But even if you assumed that industrial civilization would continue along present lines (an impossibility, as we know from physics), do you think poor people, who are the overwhelming majority of the world, will be buying Kindles and paying to download books from Amazon?
As to the matter of oversupply of reading materials, I am not worried. Unless one is befuddled by the idea of "choice" (i.e., I want to know all the possible choices before choosing something to read), the abundance of materials does not hurt anyone. Life is not lived along "optimization lines". There is no book that I _must_ read, nor any book that really has any advantage over any other book, as long as it satisfies the reader. Reading is an optional activity.
You speak of communication, but intrinsically, human communication is spoken. Writing is a recent auxiliary that may go without anybody suffering much, in my opinion. I am not sure that there is an overwhelming compulsion to communicate either. I have never felt such a thing. Express, maybe, but communicate?
And I reiterate that I consider this discussion to be fully on topic. I think it's a vital discussion unless we want to ignore what is going on, and in particular, what is going on in the lives of writers.
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