Print vs screen

There’s an interesting discussion going on, perhaps concluding, over at PFFA, here, about the idea to turn all or part of a whole forum (Blurbs of Wisdom) into a book for dissemination.

I’m finding it an interesting discussion, even though I’m arguing against the practicality of the proposal, because I understand fundamentally what the appeal of turning the Blurbs into a book would be. And it’s this. Despite the information revolution, despite the concept that electronic media will ultimately supersede print, I remain unconvinced. Books are far more durable, cleap, and resilient than computers are at this point, and they’re likely to remain so for some time. Print has mastered the trick of being easy on the eyes, while computer screens haven’t. The iPod has made some dent here, a pretty interesting dent, if you ask me: and it’s this. The idea of putting an audiobook on an iPod for portability is a good one, far better than the idea of ebooks that cart around print. I don’t think that we’ll find much that’s better than a book for the printed word. But there will be different methods of dissemination of information.

What I guess I’m trying to say is that I appreciate what lies behind the suggestion that we turn Blurbs into a book. I don’t think that turning Blurbs into a book is a good idea, but not for any reason that’s been discussed in the thread. It’s for this reason. The advantages that are offered by cyberspace are manifold, and Blurbs were written, collected, and compiled for that environment, not for print. I am not convinced that they would be as effective in book form, as they incorporate the dialogic and hypertextual features of web communication, a kind of interactivity that books find difficult to convey. That’s apart from practical issues like copyright, etc.

But there are other possibilities. What about considering making podcasts about issues in the Blurbs, sitting down some of the more experienced poets at PFFA to have a discussion about specific topics, and using the podcasts as supplements to the Blurbs as they exist? Those could be disseminated, perhaps even sold (though I’m not sold on the idea of selling; I’d rather make available, and ask people to donate), through PFFA in the same way that other podcasts are disseminated. It would certainly make the most of this wonderful resource we share — this internet — and it would meet some, if not all, the demand that the book idea seems to be creating.

Just a thought.

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