March 20, 2009

Clay Shirky on Web vs. Print

Cobbling together a 4 part Twitter message:

The "Web vs. Print" conversation has been dominated by two camps, each knowing one thing. One camp knew that the web couldn't replace print functions, and assumed the web wouldn't destroy the print model. One camp know that the Web would destroy the print model, and assumed that the web would replace print functions. Both camps were right about what they knew, and wrong about what they assumed.

Serious food for thought here and a very succinct summary of his very fine recent post Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable. And although Shirky was talking about newspapers, I think the general sentiment is also applicable to books and magazines as well -- with print journals already having been supplanted by online.

In terms of journals, if online hasn't exactly replaced all the print functions, I think that all the new functions added have, for most people, more than made up for what was lost. Print journals will disappear more-or-less completely in the fairly near future.

I think the same will be true for newspapers, that ultimately the added functionality that online gives will more than make up for the lost print functionality and that print newspapers will more-or-less completely disappear in the foreseeable future. Probably later than for journals, though I might be wrong on that.

It'll be interesting to see how that dynamic plays out for books -- whether online/ebook/Kindleish will add enough new functionality to make the trade-off worthwhile for the majority of people. I think it'll happen, it'll just take longer than for journals and newspapers.

(An interesting question: how exactly would you save something like Shirky's Twittering in Zotero or EndNote or something? As well, how exactly would you cite it in a paper? As a web page? blog post? personal communication?)


Anonymous said...

I'd model citations for twitter on citations for blog posts. It's got a URL. Very easy to *save* in Zotero--you just capture the page. Harder is the annotation. In fact, maybe a scraper for twitter (like the ones for flickr, youtube) would help!

Regarding the future of books--form and function go together. I've been forgetting that lately, being the exuberant sort who reads long-form books on an iPhone, and imagines others will. Go read if:book's take. It's interesting:

John Dupuis said...


Thanks for the if:books link. I agree that we'll read differently on mobile devices than we do in print. It'll be interesting to see especially when the price starts to come down on iphones and kindles to the point where they become commodity devices.

moonflowerdragon said...

Hi John,
Thanks for stimulating a line of thought to sustain my patience while fishing on Azeroth.

While the basic answer on how to cite Twitter posts (ie as for a blog), was quick, I had lots of fun working out what would be the article and blog titles... and then how I might cite such a span as you quoted of Clay's tweets.

John Dupuis said...

Thanks, MFD, I admire your dedication to proper citation style!

moonflowerdragon said...

Thanks John
Dedication is a nice word for it ;-)

I can't help myself, it is like a crossword or sudoku: a puzzle that must be solved :D