You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus

Mark Twain

The Luftschiffer is committed to the digital media of book publishing.
    Never before could anybody and everybody carry his entire library on a single light-weight tablet – in my case 6.400 volumes – encyclopaedias, dictionaries, references, text books and a plethora of entertaining literature in all colors of the spectrum, whether high brow in good academic editions or low brow for the instant indulgence, and hey!, where else can you get a book that reads itself back at you aloud? Let's not even dwell on the reference features within the book and the links to external sources on the web! We have come a long way.

    Initially human speech was just chatter in the trees – the indiscriminate exchange of words to no other purpose but to asserting one another's presence. A good deal of talking is still reserved for this social lubricant. Yet over the ages with ever more incisive precision the indiscriminate exchange of words became a vehicle of sometimes downright confrontational dialogue and gossip. Chatter turned to communication. And in a more politicized society, individual monologues served not just as a form of public address but also conveyed stories and dramatic performances. One side-effect was the highly formalized and yet redundant language
of these performances – a formality of patterned and repetitive speech needed to assist the memory at a time and in an ambiance where unaided memory was still the only vehicle of reference. Yet from then on we observe the ever more rapidly loosening up of human speech in ever new guises of pretended and at times genuine informality.
   This was made possible because of a new technology, the innovation of writing and the alphabet. Written text proved to be a much better memory aid and offered a more structured access to knowledge. A contract was no longer a taxing exercise among the fading memories of aging witnesses. Instead, there it was, written in stone, a memorial for generations to come. The Greeks, always an unruly, argumentative and loquacious lot at the best of times, then moved on to scripted speech: they invented the drama. The more innovative minds didn't stop here and by now we are all but overwhelmed by a high tide of texted monologues: narratives, and scientific statements, and, verging on the insane, even philosophic reasoning. Enter the stage Gutenberg and the printed book.
   In the wake of the printing press we witnessed the arrival of  hitherto unheard of standards of exactness for industrial implements and of referential accuracy in the documents, not to mention of previously completely unknown methods of scientific experimentation and exploration. These standards and methods by now have become part of our social and mental economy, the science in our laboratories would have been anything but science without gauged slide-rules and equipment accurate to the fraction of a dot. Yet even that is now a thing of the past, we now measure by
Planck lengths and look directly into the architecture of the atom. The new digital media intervene into our speech habits every morning from the screens and displays overseeing our breakfast tables. The hamfisted controversy of Victorian oratory has been neutered and light-footed routines make our politicians taking lessons from stand-up comedians.
     Where all this is leading to remains to be seen.
    The Luftschiffer

Useful Links: Google American HeritageWebster on LineU.S. Department of DefenceArmed Forces JournalThe Washington PostThe New York TimesLos Angeles TimesSalonThe GuardianVanity FairBill Moyer's JournalNew York Public RadioRadiowatch Los AngelesMedia Los AngelesNew ScientistSpace Flight NowAstronomy Now Online Library of LibertyThe New York Review of BooksThe Atlantic Arts & Letters DailyThe Proceedings of the Friesian SchoolRome: Literary ResourcesAncient History Online SourcebookEncyclopedia of Roman EmperorsPatristic Biography and LiteratureRadical Critiquebibliotheca augustanaChina and Mongolian HistoryThe MongolsGay History and LiteratureRead LiteratureThe Daily HowlerThe Web Gallery of ArteBooks at Adelaide AmazonBountiful BooksAntiQBookFetchBook.InfoYahooOpen Directory
Proprietary Notice: © 04/10/2003 – by michael sympson: text may be downloaded only for personal use, provided all copies retain the copyright and proprietary notices. No material may be modified, edited or taken out of context. Quotes are limited to ten lines and never without retaining the author’s name. Any commercial use in advertising or publicity requires permission in writing by the author's estate.