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The chatter of technology gurus indicate that e-books will wipe out the most established form of text communication-printed books,

But this premise is based upon the flawed logic of interpreting one media in terms of another. And we’ve been making this mistake for more than hundred years.

In the 1870's photography was invented, in 1910's radio was invented, in 1930's television was invented while sound-synchronised cinema was invented in 1940's.

Overwhelmed by this onslaught, every advance in technology was labelled as an advance in communication. By this reasoning, photography was better than painting because it was perfectly realistic painting. Television was better than radio because it was radio with picture, cinema was better because it was larger sized television that showed films.

This flawed logic was used for predictive analysis. The rise of television would of course mean end of radio. Why would anyone listen to something when they could see also it ? W hy could anyone want to be inconvenienced by going out to the cinema when could see films and plays on television ?

Of course, none of this happened.

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THE MEDIA REPORTS THE IMPENDING DEATH OF BOOKS AND DESCRIBES HOW E-BOOKS WILL REPLACE THEM.IS THIS LIKELY TO HAPPEN OR WILL BOOK ENDURE THIS NEW ONSLAUGHT OF TECHNOLOGY?
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People not only continue the content of the medium; they also use the medium itself.

The technology of books

A visit to the cinema has aspects of the human interaction which would be absent if same film was viewed alone. Cinema is therefore not merely the content (film) but also the locus of collective experience.

Communication is not the mere transmission and reception of information but is the transmission and reception of information with meaning. If you are handed a floppy disk containing the text of this article, its content has not been communicated to you. That would require another step of information retrieval and reception.

This is the strongest feature of books. They are a content or ‘software’ that can be retrieved by ‘hardware’ that humans already posses. Input devices in form of eyes and processor in form of the brain. But digitally transmitted data requires the intervention of another hardware system-such as an e-book- that can access the digital data and convert it into a form that human can understand. But this hardware is unwieldy and expensive.

Yes, you may precariously balance a notebook computer on your knees in the airport lounge. But can you imagine leaning against a wall on a summer afternoon, contentedly reading an ‘electronic’ book? Or enjoying the breakfast with ‘ Times of India.com’ on your hand- held PC?

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Why people want books ?

Behind the simplistic façade of print, lie some solid technological advantages that enhances usability. Books are portable, durable, accessible and universally ‘compability’ with human beings. Their ‘format’ is not going to be outdated and if they are physically stored with proper precautions, their information is never corrupted for several decades.

E-books will of course limit the current role of printed books, liberating them for tyranny of archiving information or rushing through breaking news.

But books will still flourish in their primary role of being communicatiors of ideas and vehicles for emotion.

 

 

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Humans are not concerned with a technology, but only with how they can use it.



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