Brian Fuller's blog on the media, marketing and content creation

In the sunshine

Posted on | June 16, 2006 | No Comments

Today’s Wall Street Journal (6/16/06) has a fine piece from Dan Henninger on the editorial page (Wonderland) on print versus web, our constant debate these days. He references a speech John Updike delivered at BookExpo in New York City in early June.

Updike is as mellifluous a speaker as he is a writer, presumably in part because he’s reading his writing. He pines for the soul, the community, the comfort of book stores, quickly vanishing in the 21st century.

It’s ironic that the discussion of print versus web plays out in both mediums, the ink-stained wretches a bit defensive over the future of their expensive real estate and the digiterati a bit smug over the vast possibility of ones and zeroes. But let’s be honest with ourselves: they cohabitate long term. The evolution of print is far from complete but its extinction (even its listing on the endangered species list) is remote at best. Beach sand doesn’t go well with keyboards and screens and our aging eyes don’t do well with a lot of backlight for a long time.

But read an excerpt or a blurb online that pushes you to the Updike speech, you fire up that .mp3 that floats effortlessly to your home stereo system and soon you’re on the couch, feet up, cup of coffee in hand listening to the great author’s soft intonations:

“Book readers and writers are approaching the condition of holdouts, surly hermits refusing to come out and play in the electronic sunshine of the post-Gutenberg village.”

Then pull his Rabbit, Run off your shelf and start in: “Boys are playing basketball around a telephone pole with a backboard bolted to it. Legs, shouts. The scape and snap of Keds on loose alley pebbles seems to catapult their voices high into the moist March air blue above the wires.”

That dynamic didn’t exist five years ago.

P.S. If you’re an Updike fan, Steve Winn in the San Francisco Chronicle has a wonderful appreciation of him.

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  1. Anonymous
    July 17th, 2008 @ 10:44 pm

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