Excellent and thoughtful consideration of the relationship between content and its container (books, periodicals, digital devices, etc.) and the future of ink and paper books in light of new technology. This post is a bit old now, but I was reviewing some old bookmark links (via Instapaper, which I love) and I remembered my favorite part about this article. Not only am I a bit of a book junkie - like him, I love what he calls the "sexy-as-hell tactility of those little ink and paper bricks" - I'm also a designer, and in the realm of brick and mortar. At the end of his article, he predicts the future of book making, and I was struck by the strong correlation between his views on books and my views on buildings and cities. His words:
"I propose the following to be considered whenever we think of printing a book:
The Books We Make embrace their physicality working in concert with the content to illuminate the narrative.
The Books We Make are confident in form and usage of material.
The Books We Make exploit the advantages of print.
The Books We Make are built to last. (Fig. 9a, 9b)
The result of this is:
The Books We Make will feel whole and solid in the hands.
The Books We Make will smell like now forgotten, far away libraries.
The Books We Make will be something of which even our children who have fully embraced all things digital will understand the worth.
The Books We Make will always remind people that the printed book can be a sculpture for thoughts and ideas.
Anything less than this will be stepped over and promptly forgotten in the digital march forward.
Goodbye disposable books.
Hello new canvases."
Think about real places versus digital places. This same battle is raging everywhere you look. Think Barnes & Noble vs. Amazon, CD Warehouse (remember?) vs. iTunes, Blockbuster vs. Netflix, etc. The list is long (SEE ALSO).
In light of new technology, brick and mortar places seem to have a diminishing value. When everyone is highly mobile and communication to anywhere in the world is effortless and instant, it leaves little incentive to invest in an actual place, whether it's a city, town, or neighborhood.
I respect what Mr. Mod is saying about books: when we no longer need to make them, we will choose to make them and their design will communicate their value. In the same way, in an age in which we no longer need to build great cities or great buildings, I hope that when the rare opportunity to make a great place or to build something that will last comes along we'll be able as a society to rally around the cause and pour in the money and talent and great energy required to do so.
I would love to be able to say "Goodbye disposable buildings" or, even better, "Goodbye disposable cities" but I don't know if or when it's going to happen.
SEE ALSO: All through college I wrote papers about extreme cases of digitized experiences nullifying the need for real spaces. One of the best examples I found was a drive-thru viewing before a funeral in California. Mourners had to wait in line, not to see the body of their dearly departed, but to see a live video feed of the dearly departed, and all from the detached comfort of their car. Who needs a funeral home, right? Who needs a space crafted to offer comfort and solace and warmth and shelter to the grieving? I suppose the only people who need such spaces are probably too busy to ignore the time saving advantages of a drive through.