Back to the fairytale, to make science? Digital publishing a new revolution, what about the truth?

On: October 18, 2010
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About Layla Van Daalen
I am MA New Media student of the University of Amsterdam. After I passed my study Communication Multimedia & Design, I worked for half a year as a graphic designer. 1 year ago I moved to Amsterdam to start my premaster at the university. I succesfully completed my premaster this year, and I’ll hope to complete my master at the end of this schoolyear (2010-2011). Beside my study I am still working as a graphic designer and beside my creative activities I am also interested in new media theories. In particulair I am interested in social media, design & interactive installations, locative media, user experience & behaviour.


While thinking of a new blog about digital publishing, I am a little bit confused. What about the impact of my writings? I can describe the influence of digital publishing with a non objective view, quote a lot of researchers, convert my blog to a pdf and publish it on the internet. The next time you are searching on Google for digital publishing, maybe not on the top of the list of 72.200.000 results, it will show up. Even though it is not reliable at all. But I believe, and let’s make clear I am speaking for myself and will be responsible for all my opinions in this blog, that with the advent of Web 2.0, facing crossmediality and the remix culture, the true has disappeared and science is history.

In my early years on highschool, I spend a lot of time reading books, visiting the library, and now I am writing blogs. I have used the book as a quality source, now in a new era I, and the next generation with me, will use the internet as a common source. It is possible and not unlikely that Ebooks (digitally published articles) and ereaders(tablets, e.g. the iPad) will replace the books, that these books will disappear as a source and the library becomes a museum. Ebooks and ereaders, change our behavior in writing and reading, What does this mean for scholarship and science. Can we still tell and learn the truth? Or is that already ruined by the end of the storytelling?

A short history of stories to digital publishing:

Before the Gutenberg period, (the invention of the books) we believed in the spoken word. The true is structured in language. Philosopher Lacan talked about fiction, whether Nietzsche stated that the truth lies in the fragmentation of language. By the invention of printing, stories were telling lies. If we want to tell the truth, we would write it on paper, black on white.

As Walter J. Ong says about the meaning of the writing:

Writing […] was and is the most momentous of all human technological inventions. It is not a mere appendage to speech. Because it moves speech from the oral-aural to a new sensory world, that of vision, it transforms speech and thought as well. Notches on sticks and other aides-memoire lead up to writing, but they do not restructure the human lifeworld as true writing does” (Ong, 1982)

From Tactile to the digital
In the early 1960’s we saw a new paradigmashift. Called by Baudrillard, the shift from tactical to the digital. As Landow says about this shift:

“text-based computing provides us with electronic rather then physical texts, and this shift from ink to electronic code, produces an information technology that combines fixity and flexibility , order and accessibility, but at a cost.(…) Electronic technology removes or abstracts the writer and reader from the text.” (Landow)

The radical new information technology brought us a new mode of publication, Hypertext. Many researcher, also known as post-structuralists saw this new revolution as an reaction on the strengths and weaknesses aspects of the book. “Non-sequential writing text that branches and allows choices to the reader, best read at an interactive screen changed our perspectives and behavior in reading. ”
Nowadays, in stead of visiting the library or the bookstore, the most of us rather searching for information on the internet. It’s easier to find information, and the hypertext calls for an active reader.

“You thus have read the readerly text in several ways not possible with a book: you have chosen your reading path” (Landow)

Unlike Espen Aarseth, that has described cybertext as a game, which the reader is imprisoned and powerless.

“Cybertext ( the sense of individual outcome is illusory, but nevertheless the aspect of coercion and manipulation is real.”(Aarseth)

Reading and writing in the new environment of digital publishing.

It seems to me that cybertext in the environment of Web 2.0. brought us again a new experience in reading and writing. Beside interaction, Web 2.0 makes it possible for everyone to become a source for scholarship, a journalist for news, a designer of websites and so on. We are facing crossmediality on the web that’s tells us different kind of stories. The problem is not that we are multitasking on the internet and looking for information, I think we have to focus on the problem of the information-overload, and the quality of sources. We can ask ourselves, how can we make the information more reliable, and can we take care about making science. Is that possible? If digital publishing replace the books in our future?

A reaction, generated by the development of Ebooks and ereaders, is that Amazon is doing better business than the bookstore at the corner of the street. This will play an important role in the future of books, and I can only hope that the library and good sources will not disappear.

We have to care about our literature, I think that should be a job for researcher and the universities.
Our maybe we should tell more stories and have to go back to the spoken word?

For me a word says so much more than the information on the internet.
That reminds me to tell u I am a big fan of storyteller Willem de Ridder. Every thirst Tuesday of the month he tells a fairytale at the theater. Even though it can be seen as entertainment, the only thing u do is listening to a narrative, for me it has more impact then the 300000 results of sources on the internet. So maybe we can turn back to this powerfully spread of words?

The internet and the development of the ereader, as now should be clear becomes more and more a tool for reading and writing. I would suggest that from now on we should use this tool just for entertainment, for relaxing and our pleasure, and let’s go to the fairytale teller to learn more about history and bring it on to make science? I hope the next generation still can listening!

Ong, Walter J. Orality and literacy: the technologizing of the word
Landow, George P. Hypertext 3.0: critical theory and new media in an era of globalization
Aarseth, Espen J. Cybertext: perspectives on ergodic literature

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