Now In Paper-Vision: The Future of Books. And TV.

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I wrote two articles for Time this week. Two. Because that’s how I roll. I roll prolific.

Article #1: A piece about the great switchover to digital TV — the “analog sunset,” if you will — which is supposed to happen on February 17. Except now, maybe not. My advanced polling techniques suggest to me that this event will not affect anybody who reads this blog in any way. Part of the piece talks about how badly the government is screwing up the switchover. (Coupons will save everything! Coupons, I say!) The other part is an elegy for a truly great technological monument, the analog television signal. I mean, think about it: they had wireless, full-screen, full-motion video over most of the country back in 1941. You could probably get VC funding for that shiznit now.

Article #2: My thoughts about the future of publishing. Which … yeah, I know. But think about it. If you follow the publishing biz, which you probably don’t, you know that it’s in catastrophic disarray. My point, basically, is that the book as we know it is largely a product of a unique confluence of money and technology:

New industrial printing techniques meant you could print lots of books cheaply; a modern capitalist marketplace had evolved in which you could sell them; and for the first time there was a large, increasingly literate, relatively well-off urban middle class to buy and read them. Once those conditions were in place, writers like Defoe and Richardson showed up to take advantage of them.

Since we’re currently going through one of the greatest financial and technological convulsions since the one that created the novel, in the early 18th century, it stands to reason (at least enough reason for a magazine article, anyway) that we’ll see new literary forms emerge as a result. Alternative electronic forms of publishing — cell phone novels, self-publishing, POD, Kindle publishing, fan fiction — are going to rise up and engulf and transform conventional paper publishing. In cool interesting ways.

OK, that’s enough of that. Let’s have a dance party … in London!