Re: The Digital Shift

Although I did not attend the “From Print to Pixels” event, I am fascinated by the influence of technology and emerging media on culture and long-held customs. A recent theme in my studies involves contemplating the possibility of reconciling global issues with the advent of technology, so I appreciate Jennifer relating her experience and skepticism about emerging technologies in the book publishing world.

Everything is changing, but right now we live in a world that is adapted to producing and consuming information the old-fashioned way. Even though many people are concerned and distrustful about emerging media platforms, we still find these new technologies beginning to pervade our culture and commerce. I think because the digital shift is all-pervasive and simultaneously uncertain, we find it difficult to consign ourselves entirely to its pretenses. Obviously, remembering to bring one e-reader with you is easier than remembering to bring four or five books, but what’s the catch? There’s always a catch when it comes to technology.

It seems like people keep finding out the hard way that technology creates more problems than it solves. You might be able to buy all the classics as e-books, even some text books are moving to e-books, but some smart people don’t need to buy an e-reader to know that it probably won’t solve all your book problems, and it might in fact give you new book problems. This is the uncertainty of emerging technologies.

Someday, we might look back on e-readers and e-books as just another antiquated technology relegated to the museum archives.  And, by that time, who knows what we will think of books. But until then, we have a fascinating voyage ahead of us, filled with amazing new inventions and innovative technological solutions. The Espresso Book Machine v. E-readers is one example, and another example is Facebook marketing and the new models of publication requiring authors to maintain a platform and personal investment in their work. All this delineates the landscape of the digital shift. The digital shift transforms industry, reshapes the economy, and creates a new reference point for future generations.

Of course, this begs the question that Jennifer pointed up in her post: Is this digital shift a good thing or a bad thing, and how could we really know?

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