“Opposite the bench is a wall occupied from floor to ceiling by bookcases: Manfred looks at the ancient, low-density medium and sneezes, momentarily bemused by the sight of data density measured in kilograms per megabyte rather than vice versa”
- Charles Stross from “Accelerando”
Our mediums of information (be it fictional or historical) seem to be changing. As the quote from Charles Stross points out, there’s a profound density advantage to getting our words digitally these days.
Look at the four images above. For two of them, the contents of the image could be placed in your back pocket and forgotten. The other two images have contents that must be lifted with your legs and not your back.
Still, two of the four images above invite me - make me want to reach out and interact with what’s pictured. And it’s not the images that fit in your pocket. This may simply mean that I’m over a certain age, but I don’t think that’s all. Books, as a technology, haven’t been so successful without reason. Printed books offer some systemic/access advantages that digital representations have yet to catch on to.
I agree with this, but at the same time I don’t miss scrolls, clay tablets, or cave paintings. Well, maybe a little. I know that isn’t really your point with the volume of information being “just right”, but I am sure that there were those that held onto the old medium before moving on to the new in some of those cases as well.
Change wasn’t as rapid then, but look at the analogue of records vs. digital media. We may give up some of the quality or “feel” for quantity or ease of access, but we eventually give it up. And those that don’t give it up will be phased out.
Of course there is always the scenario where all computers are fried and we have to rely on written media. I am sure there is some sci-fi story out there where society has evolved to not even use or understand written media and then there is a cataclysmic event that forces them to go back to the most rudimentary form of communication.
And how timely is this???