Future of the Page

October 29, 2006

Fascinating review of (the not terribly new) The Future of the Page, edited by Peter Stoicheff and Andrew Taylor, over at Blogcritics.com.

Immediately, we confront the first puzzle not directly discussed within the book, but nevertheless obvious the instant we pick it up in our hands. This book is palpable. It is larger than a paperback. It is filled with illustrations. In fact, one chapter is printed on glossy paper. Why a book? Why not a website? Why not a collection of web pages?

It may simply be the case that 500 years of entrenched reading habits have not yet met the right catalyst to undo our literary inertia. The generation which has driven a revolution in the delivery and enjoyment of audio and video is not yet mature enough to have an impact upon the publishing industry. We have yet to witness amongst publishers the same sort of uproar that gripped the RIAA as teenagers around the world began to share audio files through Napster. But the publishing industry’s day may yet arrive. Shortly after this book’s release, Google announced a partnership with several major libraries to scan their collections as fully searchable text. As the use and architecture of the world wide web is increasingly determined by those (younger) people who have been weaned of or have never really felt attached to print media, the publishing industry will have no choice but to adapt. And it will have to begin by reconceptualizing the page. It is in this task that The Future of the Page may prove most valuable.

Again, in the silence, we find ourselves drawing a conclusion which is not so surprising after all: the challenge we face is not about adjusting to new ways and new ideas; it is about the ageā€“old struggle for power.

That’s on order at Amazon, then.

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