Ghostly white smoke and orange flames; at first I imagined something in the pot. But the eighty-year old Mergenthaler/Emerson motor was burning up. Tragedy was avoided but composition and line casting has been halted and the Homestead Rocket is delayed. It is a connectivity denial.
Keyboard prompting and mass media connectivity came in with the Linotype before the turn of the 20th century. Magazines, newspapers and directories were all set on Linotypes until well into the 1970’s. Microsoft is three decades old, Mergenthaler Linotype lasted almost a century.
What future ghostly white smoke and orange flames will signal the end of screen reading? Not imaginable? Not a relevant concern? We can only appraise the prospects for screen reading after it has un-docked from its parent templates of the print eras.
source and surrogate
Many and most people can get along without paper books. That majority can also do fine without original paintings or original photographs. The issue here is the different roles of source and surrogate.
Of course the source can be screen based. Think of all the newspapers that survive only on microfilm. More to the point, consider all websites. So one way of looking at the source and surrogate contrast is to consider what the combination of these delivery states offers and how the two options can be optimized and even how they can work together.
Screen delivery, source or surrogate, offers remote access, automated searching or self-indexing and a capacity for live revision and linage. Paper or print delivery offers electronic device and systems independence, content immutability and some curious, self-authentication qualities. There is a strange complementary aspect!
In the final appraisal we need to consider transmission of culture and information generally. Both screen and paper transmission are needed but, for responsible transmission, there may be preference for physical sources and virtual surrogates.
open source trilogy
“Bibliotheca, the leading global developer and supplier of technologies designed to enhance library efficiency and the user experience, is partnering with the library community to facilitate adoption of open source platforms for the delivery of electronic content.” Bibliotheca
News: Open source platforms for the delivery of electronic content and epub file format combine to provide library ebook access. ( This has not happened.) Unlike with paper book circulation, electronic book circulation divides display and storage into separate costs and separate services. Library ebook access now requires double transaction from multiple platforms to multiple devices; an impossible business plan.
A goal of open source storage and open source display is obvious for libraries but impossible from a publishing position excepting for independent, open source publishing or for electronic circulation of public domain books. A trilogy of open source production, open source storage, open source display sounds ethereal, but logical for libraries and their preservation role.
Bibliographers use a boundary to frame their studies. This is the turn of the nineteenth century. Those living in in the year 1800 could look back across centuries and be familiar with the daily routines of those before them. Likewise people of the 1800’s would be familiar with the changing routines of those in centuries to come.
This turn of the nineteenth century transition is arbitrary but the general shift from handcraft to industrialization, from domination of tradition to domination of science and from eternal to evolutionary constructs is apparent. Most fascinating is the hybrid experience of the nineteenth century itself; the leap between eras. Photo imaging, sound recording, mass media, instantaneous communications and the dot-dash of digital encoding all sprung up in that time of paradigm shifting.
Within such a perspective there is a somewhat nostalgic bent of current bibliographers in interests in materialistic aspects of books. Such qualities and affordances of physical books have not gone away, but bibliographers tend to shift their explanations to past performance rather than in a more recent context of interplay with the screen book. The attributes of performance of the physical book are much more relevant now, not as legacies, but as strategic complements of the virtual book.