Technology and the Past

“The technology I like is the American paperback edition of Freedom. I can spill water on it and it would still work! So it’s pretty good technology. And what’s more, it will work great 10 years from now. So no wonder the capitalists hate it. It’s a bad business model…I think, for serious readers, a sense of permanence has always been part of the experience. Everything else in your life is fluid, but here is this text that doesn’t change. Will there still be readers 50 years from now who feel that way? Who have that hunger for something permanent and unalterable? I don’t have a crystal ball. But I do fear that it’s going to be very hard to make the world work if there’s no permanence like that. That kind of radical contingency is not compatible with a system of justice or responsible self-government.” -Jonathon Franzen

There are multiple commercials and websites warning people to be careful what they post; online is forever, they ominously warn.

Technology also has the reputation of being finicky.  Novelist Jonathon Franzen said he hates the ideas of e-books because they could just disappear.

Recently, the past of journalism and the future of technology have become intertwined.  Etan Patz, a young boy who was the first feature “Missing Persons” on a milk carton has received new attention.  He was even a trending topic on Twitter.

Patz’s disappearance in 1979 has been receiving new attention.  This sad situation shows the possibility for the combination of the past and the future.  Old newspaper reports have been combined with new attention.  This shows the possibilities .

The past has always seemed so separate from the new ideas of technology. But with this new combination,  there is now a link, rather than a dispute.  Text and newspapers are seen as more stable because they are tangible.  But the Internet can be tangible too.  Just because it’s not always physically available, it can still be there forever.  And both mediums combined can help society.

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April 21, 2012 · 2:17 pm

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