The Flux Capacitor of the Printed Word
DeLorean model kit says: “Because the car’s stainless steel body improves the flux dispersal generated by the flux capacitor, and this in turn allows the vehicle smooth passage through the space-time continuum.”
As an aspiring author the recent media swirl surrounding the rapid transitions taking place in the book publishing industry feels a bit like watching the 1985 American science-fiction film classic “Back To the Future”. In this movie our hero’s find themselves in a pre-EBook era where the movies mad scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown has retro-fitted a 1981 DMC-12 DeLorean with the “flux capacitor”; a time travel machine which allows he and his side kick Marty McFly to attain speeds of more than 88 mph – thus breaking the time barrier and allowing them to travel through time.
Since the first Amazon.com Kindle was sold in 2007 the juggernaut of change has also been gaining speed exponentially, promising to overthrow and change the world of literary publishing as we know it forever. In the swipe of a card, the flick of a wrist and the blink of an eye the process of an author’s getting their books from agent to publisher to sales forum has, like ‘Doc Brown’s” flux capacitor, reached speeds of over 88 mph and are now about to launch us into a hither to unexplored future of how history will be not only recorded, but viewed.
Since the early discovery of the codex around or before the first century, mankind has been looking for ways with which to record and preserve information in a form that would allow him to pass the baton of history onto the next generation. As the future became the past, the tools available for performing this sacred rite started out as simple juice from a berry etched onto papyrus, to ink and quill, to printing blocks and by the 1960’ and 70’s mankind was using PC’s to record both their thoughts and the events of the day.
As with all good things there is a thread of caution that cannot be over looked and therefore begs the questions to be asked; if all future information is recorded and viewed electronically, what will happen to history if that technology is ever lost? Before ink, printing presses or PC’s were in existence, our ancestors kept a verbal record of history that was meticulously passed down from one generation to the next, each adding the events of their generation to the telling of the whole. What if doomsday prophets are right and we one day find us much like an apocalyptic Mad Max in Beyond Thunderdome – without technology? Or even worse, without those who do the ‘tellin’?
The movie “The Book of Eli” is one example of such a story; one in which the world has been destroyed by apocalyptic anarchy and the single item Gary Oldman’s character believes will give him ultimate power to rule what’s left is not a Kindle or the latest 4G iPhone – iPod, but a printed book, The Book. And in the end we find Eli at a place of sanctuary doing the ‘tellin’ from memory the printed book he gave his life for so that in the end it could be re-printed for future generations so that they would not lose their history.
So in this high-speed, flux capacitor age of electronic books and 4G capabilities, let us pray that we don’t become so bedazzled by the shiny objects before us that we neglect the value of the printed word and the ‘tellin’ it will do for future generations to come.
From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer