snapchat is a clear indication that we're entering the post-print era 02.09.2013, 11:44 AM
posted by bob stein
The New York TImes published an article today about Snapchat -- the service that lets you send photos and texts that quickly self-destruct as soon as the person you've sent them to has seen them. Impermanence is the point.
Before digital (BD), that is in the era of print, photographs were intended to be printed and preserved; indeed that was the whole point -- to save a moment in time. And the focus on preservation followed us into the digital era. We are endlessly making back-ups, making sure that everything is always with us. The terminology itself is deeply rooted in the paradigm of print -- digital libraries, file systems, folders, etc.
When people started talking about the possibility of media that isn't frozen at the moment of publication, works that are always in process, a hue and cry went up expressing concern about versions. If there weren't clearly identified versions people asked, how would we be able to refer to a work and carry on a conversation over time. In response I suggested that future media would be more like life, flowing like a river, always changing, always in motion.
Snapchat which is being adopted quickly by the generation that has grown up with Facebook indicates an historic shift, the upending of preservation as the core issue of future media. The long-term future of discourse will not be dea. intellectual output will flow like streams into rivers. the whole will be much greater than the sum of its parts.
For anyone interested in this subject, I would also recommend David Gelernter's article in Wired this week. I don't agree with Gelernter on a lot of things, but in terms of a shift from space-based to time-based reality i think he's been right on this since he first put it forward in the 90s. The implication is that the long-term future of discourse is not to be divided and frozen into archival versions; rather intellectual output will flow like streams into rivers and the whole will be much greater than the sum of its parts.
Posted by bob stein on February 9, 2013 11:44 AM
Steve Mentz on February 9, 2013 5:28 PM:
The Gerlernter essay in interesting too -- plus the hostile comments!
Steve Mentz on February 10, 2013 1:52 PM:
Maybe I failed to post my first comment, which was about looking for a good way to teach (and understand!) the shift from a storehouse/resource model to a flow model. I think that's what you and Gerlernter are both doing here. I have found some helpful clarity also in an odd place, a book for MBA-types called The Power of Pull, co-written by my friend Lang Davison, John Seely Brown, and John Hagel III.
The question of preservation still seems important, to me at least, but in an ecology in which there is no scarcity, an abundance rather than a lack of flow, we may think about such things differently.