The Future of the Book
Geoffrey Nunberg, ed.
On Multimedia Literacy
"Today the concept of literacy comprises many media. An enlightened
policy of literacy must take into account the possibilities of all these
media. Educational concern must be extended to the whole of media.
Responsibilities and tasks must be carefully blanced. If for learning
languages, tapes are better than books, take care of cassettes. If a
presentation of Chopin with commentary on compact disks helps people to
understand Chopin, don't worry if people do not buy five volumes of the
history of music. Even if it were true that today visual communication
overwhelms written communication the problem is not to oppose written to
visual communication. The problem is how to improve both" (298).
On Reading Onscreen
"After having spent no more than twelve hours at a computer console, my
eyes are like two tennis balls, and I feel the need to sit comfortably
down in an armchair and read a newspaper, or maybe a good poem. It seems
to me that computers are diffusing a new form of literacy but are
incapable of satisfying all the intellectual needs they are stimulating.
In my periods of optimism I dream of a computer generation which,
compelled to read a computer screen, gets acquainted with reading from a
screen, but at a certain moment feels unsatisfied and looks for a
different, more relaxed, and differently-committing form of reading"
On Communicating and Publishing
"People desire to communicate with one another. In ancient communities
they did it orally; in a more complex society they tried to do it by
printing. Most of the books which are displayed in a bookstore should be
defined as products of vanity presses, even if they are published by a
university press.... A great many people do not want to publish; they
simply want to communicate with each other. The fact that in the future
they will do it by E-mail or over the Internet will be a great boon for
books and for the culture and the market of the book. Look at a
bookstore. There are too many books. I receive too many books every
week. If the computer network succeeds in reducing the quantity of
published books, this would be a paramount cultural improvement" (301).
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