jeudi 5 janvier 2012

The Permanence of Books

I just read an article on "Books that are never done being written" (by Nicholas Carr, in which the author discusses ebooks and the new methods of writing that authors have because of them. In the olden days, books "came to be viewed, by writer and reader alike, as immutable objects. They were written for posterity." And now,

"There's no technological constraint on perpetual editing, and the cost of altering digital text is basically zero. As electronic books push paper ones aside, movable type seems fated to be replaced by movable text.
That's an attractive development in many ways. It makes it easy for writers to correct errors and update facts. Guidebooks will no longer send travelers to restaurants that have closed or to once charming inns that have turned into fleabags. The instructions in manuals will always be accurate. Reference books need never go out of date.
Even literary authors will be tempted to keep their works fresh. Historians and biographers will be able to revise their narratives to account for recent events or newly discovered documents. Polemicists will be able to bolster their arguments with new evidence. Novelists will be able to scrub away the little anachronisms that can make even a recently published story feel dated."

This article reminded me of a passage I read recently in another article, in which the author notes that perhaps without a computer, the articles he wrote would have been more carefully thought out.

"There's no doubt that without a computer on which to write, and an Internet connection that enables me to do a great deal of research without rising from my seat, I would have written and published far less than I have. I would have had to spend countless more hours in libraries; I would have had to take hundreds or perhaps thousands of pages of notes by hand; I would have had to type and re-type my articles and books, using copious quantities of Wite-Out. All this I know. But what I do not know is whether I would have had a less successful career. I would have published fewer words, but perhaps those words would have been better chosen; perhaps my ideas would have been more carefully thought out. Who knows what might have occurred to me as I was walking to or from the library, or as I typed a particular page for the fourth time?"

(Source : Alan Jacobs, "From Cursive to Cursor":

I think what makes it easier for me to write to this ol' blog of mine is the fact that it's not permanent. The fear of  permanence is probably the reason why I have so many blank notebooks at home. I couldn't stand to write something less than perfect in one of my beautiful notebooks. And what if my hand slipped or I wrote a typo? Or what if I simply changed my mind? So I just never write in them.

Aucun commentaire:

Publier un commentaire