Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Gutenberg Elegies

As the end draws near this personal book becomes even more so with him urging readers to take a stand against the digital future.

Chapter 15
Birkerts makes it very personal talking about a battle inside himself.

“What is it that I envision? Not a revolution – this is not a revolutionary scenario. I see instead a steady displacement of old by new, a generational pressure that escalates, its momentum gathering as the members of the old dispensation age and die off.” Page 214

He talks of depth and duration and the difference with an online experience. But this is quite emotional stuff with references to the online world being the devil.

“We have destroyed that duration. We have created invisible elsewheres that are as immediate as our actual surroundings. We have fractured the flow of time, layered it into competing simultaneities. We learn to do five things at once or pay the price. We have plunged ourselves into an environment of invisible signals and operations; we live in a world where it is unthinkable to walk five miles to visit a friend as it was once unthinkable to speak across that distance through a wire.” Page 219

He says the changes over the last 25 years have been quick in terms of the technological advances and have had a massive impact but no one questions if they have been positive. There seems to be a blind acceptance of the benefits of technology.

Birkerts also talks about technology making you lose something but then it seems to become some sort of Luddite's dream with the telephone, fax, answer phone and email all getting cursed.

Tomorrow I will post a summary of the afterword to the 2006 edition…

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