Books are dead

I’ve started reading quite a few business and marketing blogs lately.  I’m not exactly sure why they interest me so much, but they do.  John Moore of Brand Autopsy put me onto an interesting post by Joe Wikert where he reviews Jeff Gomez’s book Print is Dead.  (I know, publishing a book about the death of books is a bit ironic, huh?)

To state the obvious, our modes of communication are changing.  Books are going to be around for a long time, but they will not continue to have the same importance they have had as a communication medium, especially with the younger generations.  Some worried parents commented on Joe’s post, insisting that reading is important and that we should still teach and encourage kids to read books.  I agree with this, but when it comes to propogating ideas, books are no longer going to be the central avenue by which that dissemination takes place.

When there are ideas worth spreading – and I think there are plenty in the mission world right now – we are going to have to find ways other than books to spread those ideas.  Books are a one-way form of communication where the author speaks and the readers listen.  They cost money and are limited in supply.  More and more, people prefer the two-way communication and discussion that is possible through electronic and other means.  That’s what I like about blogs – comments allow a discussion to take place, and blog posts break ideas down into bite-sized chunks.  Let’s face it – these days we’re rarely capable of assimilating information in large doses.

As a blogger, I can start a conversation, receive feedback from others, and present new information as my ideas evolve.  I used to think I would possibly publish a book one day, but now I’m not sure.  I might just stick to blogging.  At any rate, if the ideas I have don’t catch on and start to spread through this blog first, then they’re hardly worth the time and money it would take to put them into book form.

Revolutionaries in the mission world, start using more innovative means of communication!  I have searched for blogs by a number of authors I would like to hear from, but I haven’t found much.  These are authors who, judging by the print material they publish, are finding time to write.  I would like to see more of them enter the blogosphere so that the rest of us could better interact with them.

What do you think, readers?  Do you agree with the above assessments?  If so, drop a comment and join in the conversation!  If you don’t agree, I suppose you’ll be too busy reading a book to comment…

2 thoughts on “Books are dead

  1. leaker

    A book you might like similar to this topic is “Amusing Ourselves to Death” by Neil Postman. He has written a whole lot on pretty much the same topic, but this book does a great job of time lining how we have chosen to interact/discuss…

    Postman follows the history of communication…noting that brilliant speeches and things formerly were not written down…this made it hard to rebut arguments because you couldn’t go back and see what exactly a position was. Then we started printing, and suddenly scholarly interaction skyrocketed. He ties this into how we receive our news…When watching the news meant going to a movie theater to see the news film, production was focused on the content that was presented–making sure it was valuable, informative, fair… Businesses competed by having detailed stories and great analysis. Once the telegraph came around, however, suddenly the best news was the business who could get the farthest away news to its audience the fastest. Evening papers became huge as publishers fought for providing new news.

    The TV, then, changed everything. Instantly the focus was moved completely away from depth, and even “farthest-away-ness…” Now we choose the best news by whoever has the best PRESENTATION…things like how good the people look, how much it can keep our attention, is it flashy and fun–how entertaining is it, essentially–has taken the place of relevant debate.

    An interesting example of how we perceive this shift was seen after the Nixon v Kennedy debate, the first televised presidential debate. Kennedy was a young polished speaker who looked great on TV. Nixon, however, was wearing a suit that didn’t show well on TV, was pale and underweight after having just gotten out of the hospital from the flu, wore no makeup, hadn’t shaved… But, his rhetoric was stellar compared to Kennedy. Polls that followed the debate showed that those who watched it on TV declared Kennedy the clear winner, but those who listened on the radio said Nixon had won.

    What do we pay more attention to?

    So, closer to the topic at hand, blogs, then, are a way that we can blend the rhetorical value of having written argumentation, along with the aesthetics of visual communication. A pretty good compromise! Plus, blogs allow persons who would otherwise be unable to distribute tier writing to readers around the globe. (there is, however, a possible downside to this. But, that is another topic…)

  2. chris Post author

    Very interesting analysis. Thanks for sharing that, Daniel!

    Yeah, that is one of the cool shifts that is taking place with the internet and RSS (Really Simple Sindication)–now, you don’t have to work for a newspaper or magazine; anyone can publish material for the world to read and interact with. In theory, those who publish the best material will rise to the top and be read, not just those who have the most money or power. The internet in general, and blogs in particular, level the playing field.

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