Printed media such as newspapers and magazines are changing as we move further into the 21st century. Some will warmly embrace it, and others will continuously object; shrouding the new age of communication in a well-rehearsed fog of pessimism and doubt.
Yes, you’re correct – I’m talking about the increased digitalisation of information on the Internet.
It would take a brave person to freely affirm that the state of written communication will be identical to how it is today, in the next 20 to 30 years. The times are changing and I will aim to explore why.
From the very beginning of William Caxton’s printing press in the late 15th century to today, where there has been an opportunity for an opinion or thought to be conveyed in words; the newspaper has formed the backbone to any societies’ need to communicate in this way.
Although the Internet – a tool enabling any form of online content to be easily viewed by millions at the click of a (hyper)link is now commonplace in the average home, and has been for the last decade; the printed word, in my opinion, has been able to coexist without much fuss. (Although some people would beg to differ)
However, I feel that with invention of the iPad – coupled with Apple’s seeming monopoly on the ‘impulse buying’ sector of the human brain, written communication is destined for change.
In contemporary society, many people lead busy lives. Intertwined within a person’s drive to successfully complete a task is also a need to complete many tasks concurrently.
I’m sure it can be agreed upon that juggling multiple IM windows and numerous internet browser tabs whilst attempting to piece together an assignment eight hours before a due date is fairly commonplace… or at least… I perceive it to be.
However, this is no different with online newspapers and magazines.
Readers are becoming more inclined to just glancing at a few lines of an article before moving onto the next – courtesy of RSS Feeds (Digg, a personal favourite) and Readers (such as Google Reader) becoming more widely used.
Does this mean our attention spans are starting to wane?
…Quite possibly, but the average person has become accustomed to being able to get the current, most up-to-date news at any time from any online resource; something which the daily newspaper simply cannot keep up with.
What I am proposing is not the demise of the notion of the newspaper, but merely a technological shift to a platform which allows the distribution of content to a much greater target audience (at of course, a much lower cost).
Another recent example of digitalising information deals with none other than the Oxford English Dictionary. Since 1879, the Oxford English Dictionary has been an authoritive guideto the English language; that is, in its written, hard copy format.
Its next edition however, may not have the chance to grace our bookshelves.
On one hand, the ability to have immediate access to the wealth of information that the OED provides at the click of a button is nothing short of mind-boggling.
However for purists and hard copy lovers everywhere it will mark a sad day when this new content goes live, as the OED has no other choice but to embrace the largest communications tool in the world and ‘get with the times’.
Personally, I’ll be continuing to walk for an extra few minutes each morning to the University Newsagent or local milk bar to pick up my daily copy of the newspaper. As for spending a good minute or so locating an unfamiliar word in a dictionary heavy enough to be used as a tool for self defense… I think I’ll just make a note of it and look it up online later.