Tuesday, June 27, 2006

War of teh Words

In this corner, we have Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine, writing an article about Google's plan to make the content of five major research libraries available online, thus creating a 21st century library of Alexandria.

In this corner, John Updike, preserving books from extinction and contemptously mocking the dense verbiage of cyberspace in one haughty, apoplectic paragraph:

In imagining a huge, virtually infinite wordstream accessed by search engines and populated by teeming, promiscuous word snippets stripped of credited authorship, are we not depriving the written word of its old-fashioned function of, through such inventions as the written alphabet and the printing press, communication from one person to another — of, in short, accountability and intimacy? Yes, there is a ton of information on the Web, but much of it is egregiously inaccurate, unedited, unattributed and juvenile. The electronic marvels that abound around us serve, surprisingly, to inflame what is most informally and noncritically human about us — our computer screens stare back at us with a kind of giant, instant "Aw, shucks," disarming in its modesty, disquieting in its diffidence.

Updike is such a master of letters, he can convince me to accept the most tenuous sophistry as if it were the Word itself. In a foreword to a (now out-of-print) Writer's Digest guide on short story writing, Updike had beef with another medium: radio. Hippies cranked up their radios and had no appreciation for short stories, which were too quiet.

So does the Moses of Suburbia have a persecution complex or is his crusade against iBook-toting hipsters justified? And what about Mr. Kelly? Will this Google project really be the library of Alexandria or has Google bitten off more than it can chew?

Aw, shucks. I don't know. Here's some video of a dog eating liverwurst.

(courtesy of buka92)

Death to books! Bwa ha ha!

No comments: