Sunday, November 09, 2008

In the War on Books, Does the Internet Win?

What has the Internet meant for us as a culture? What havoc has it wreaked on the culture of books? More: in an all out battle -- books vs. the ‘Net -- who wins?

The answer, according to Air America’s Beau Friedlander, writing for The Los Angeles Times, is not as simple as it might at first appear:
Books require a different sort of communion with one’s subject than the Internet. They foster a different sort of memory -- more tactile, more participatory. I know more or less where, folio-wise, Eliot gets nasty about the Jews in his infamous 1933 lecture series “After Strange Gods,” but I always have to read around a bit to find the exact quote, and the time spent softens the bite of his anti-Semitism because the hateful remarks were made amid smart ones. For literary works, books are still, and most likely always will be, indispensable.

But not all nonfiction requires that depth. I asked “Freakonomics” co-author Stephen Dubner how the Internet is changing writing and more generally the way we think.
“The crabbiness,” he says, “that emanates from a certain breed of thinker/writer -- a breed that I generally admire, by the way -- about how the Internet’s cornucopia of information is destroying book culture is based on fear of change more than anything. Most people don't even like to change the part in their hair; asking them to accept a change in the way words are disbursed through culture is a bit much.”
The LA Times piece is lengthy, magnificent and right here.



Post a Comment

<< Home