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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ones and Zeroes vs. Tangible Assets

As a conservative, I'm a failure.

Not in an I'm gonna be Al Gore's buddy now or I can't wait to get a poster of Mike Papantonio on my wall kind of way. No, it's more insidious than that: I'm a huge fan of NPR.

Oh, I've still got my core values intact, but I do get a large majority of my news and views on the world from Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne in the morning and Melissa Block, Robert Siegel, and Michele Norris in the afternoon. Every once and awhile, I catch Fresh Air with Terry Gross - that one really hurts, because I just know she's really a liberal.

Less damning perhaps is my affinity for weekend fare such as Car Talk, Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, and my personal favorite: Whad'Ya know? with Michael Feldman. I swear, I'm going to Wisconsin one day - just to try and get on that show.

This morning, I heard a segment entitled Tina Brown's Must Reads. I have no idea who Tina Brown is or why her opinion should shape my reading habits, but I listened anyway. Amongst the chatter about books and articles I would expect NPR to promote, Ms. Brown highlighted a NY Times article Publishing: The Revolutionary Future by Jason Epstein.

Mr. Epstein discusses a variety of angles on a topic that is getting a lot of traction as electronic publishing seeks to supplant the traditional tomes of yesteryear.

I found his article interesting reading, not just from the standpoint that at some time in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future I'll be seeking a publisher for my own novels; but also because moving from the printed word to an ephemeral world of digitized works is a philosophical and social issue as well as a business and marketing one.

Let's say that 100 years from now printed works are all but gone - decayed on shelves, tossed in the dustbin...forgotten. All the great literary works and non-fiction texts have been converted to online libraries.

And then the lights go out.

Catastrophe or opportunity? The loss would be catastrophic for sure. But future writers would be assured of continuing relevance in our increasingly sterile and digital world.

What do you think?


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