A Book about Books

I am now halfway into "This is not the end of the Book", a conversation between two authors, one of whom is Umberto Eco. I am not familiar with the other, a French writer. But they have a freewheeling conversation about the future of the book. That's what the book is about. Ain't it a novel idea?

Early into the conversation, one of them pokes fun at a futurologist who made a few stupid predictions at a Davos gathering, pointing out that futurology is a dicey business, and the only thing known about it is that it will be a surprise-that's why it is the FUTURE, and not something else.

Anyway, the context of their discussion is ways of preserving learning, history, culture through books, scrolls, digital media, film, etc. They convincingly argue that we have already lost a lot of stuff, such as the work of some excellent Greek playwrights, because someone thought them unworthy of preservation in libraries. This kind of filtered reality of cultures and realities past is all that we will get.

They also persuasively argue that storage media formats keep changing so fast that it is confusing to learn for individuals and institutions, as to which media to use for the long haul- we have had CD ROMs, VCDs and DVDs in a short span of time. They seem relatively unworried about the e-book taking over the normal book, within limits of unpredictability, of course. Many more insights on various things are peppered into the book of conversations. A great read. I have found Umberto Eco an original thinker, though I have only read two or three of his books/essays. Hope to read some more. An aside is that both these gentlemen own something like 30-40,000 books.

1 comment:

Diamond Head said...

I am going to get Focault's Pendulum as my next bedside read. Tick Tock should help me sleep.

As an aside I wonder if Mr. Ec(h)o finds his last name contradict his Original thinking?

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