With the Kindle, and now the introduction of the unfortunately-named iPad--
(a moniker which was supposed to call to mind a user-friendly suite of products. But which instead sounds like it should involve commercials where two women walk in a sunny field and speak confidentially about monthly discomfort)...
--Er, where was I?
Oh. Yes.... With the introduction of the Kindle and iPad, our friend the Paper Book might be viewed as having taken a hit.
But ever since ancient Egyptian best-selling authors said, "Hey, I've still got two more chapters to write and I've run completely out of wallspace. I'm feeling optimistic about that pile of dried fronds over there," the printed word has shown its ability to evolve.
Wholly-Accurate and Completely Trustworthy History of the Printed Word To-Date
- Dawn of Time, noonish- First dirty limerick on cave wall well-received by early fans. Critics, however, dub it "the work of Neanderthals."
- 3800 BC- Ancient Sumerians develop increasingly more elaborate pictograms, these featuring familiar images of birds, bare feet, sheaves, and a man in a bowler hat with an apple in front of his face. The hieroglyphics were originally used to share religious rituals, and to pass down favorite beer recipes. Old Mesopotamia, Old Mesopotamia Lite, Pain in the Asp and Golden Sarcophagus were top award winners at the 3787 BC "Pharaoh of the Brew" competition.
- 3200 BC- Ancient Egyptians realize tombs are not terribly portable, growing tired of forcing slaves to roll the tomb from place to place using clever pulley and lever systems every time they want to share sports scores and the livestock market. Egyptians develop new fad of writing directly on barges and slaves.
- 2800 BC- Writing on stone tablets invented after space on slaves becomes limited. These tablets are portable, but heavy and prone to damage.
- 200 AD- Chinese win the race as Word Superpower, inventing inkblock printing on fabric two seconds before the Egyptians. Japanese adapt the technique for mass producing colorful images of big-eyed young girls in schoolgirl uniforms and brandishing superpowers.
- 400 AD- European monks use pulp paper to craft elaborate illuminated manuscripts with the forethought of displaying them in the British Library 1500 years later, along with Beatles lyrics on cocktail napkins.
- 1824 AD- Industrial revolution makes mass printing possible, creating a whole print industry including publishing houses, editors, and slush pile readers hired specifically to reject Charles Dickens' work.
- 1836 AD- Charles Dickens invents self-publishing. And cliffhangers.
- 2005 AD- Self-publishing meets the information age, allowing everyone, including your great-aunt who smells like mothballs to finally share her 1,000 page collection of incisive cat haiku.
- 2010 AD- iPad and Kindle demonstrate that they can go where the printed page has never gone before.... Except for the bathtub.
So as you can see, print is designed to evolve and adapt. And as human society, we must adapt with it.
Why, now that we've created a hard tablet with words printed on it, which is heavy and prone to damage, where will we go next?
My theory is we're probably just one step away from having the very walls of our homes used as a surface to receive and view all important information...
We'll learn eventually.