Sunday, June 25, 2006

Updike on 'Scan This Book'

Today's New York Times Sunday Book Review includes an essay by John Updike which is mostly a response to Kevin Kelly's widely discussed article "Scan This Book!"

Updike finds many faults with Kelly's vision of a digitized future and is persuasive in some ways, but comes off as someone pining for the world of his youth in others. I have to admit his skill with words enables him to effectively disparage some of Kelly's over-the-top pronouncements.

He questions to what extent the online world can reproduce the traditional one:

Books traditionally have edges: some are rough-cut, some are smooth-cut, and a few, at least at my extravagant publishing house, are even top-stained. In the electronic anthill, where are the edges?

Without looking, I know they're there. Not the same thing, but electronic books can have edges. Anything in the real world can have an electronic counterpart. "As offline, so online." The "edges" are there.

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