Monday, February 22, 2010

Pixels and Paper

I was looking over some of my old notebooks this morning—in particular the large collection of writing prompts I've outlined for myself—when I noticed I couldn't find one of my notebooks. There was some immediate panic because that notebook was my only record of several poems, translations, and writing prompts. A month's worth of writing gone.

Luckily, I did find it, but this mini-crisis highlighted the issue of the digital versus the printed. Until recently, I've been fairly resistant to the digital world of writing. It was one thing to read the news, reviews, and articles online, but when it came to poetry, fiction, and non-fiction, I wanted to be able to hold it. Or so I thought.

Part of this stemmed from me favoring a tangible object (a book) over an intangible idea (the internet). While I still prefer to read books over web pages, digital copies aren't quite as fragile. I can't drop this blog in a puddle, nor can I accidentally leave it on a bus. Unless the server crashes, it will be here.

There's also the difference of audience: a book will never have as big of a potential audience as a website does. This is what makes the world of digital publishing the best thing that ever happened to writing: the free dissemination of ideas. More people can exchange information than ever before.

Of course, there's still something desirable about the tangible book. It's why I've chosen to print Fuzz Against Junk rather than just post everything online. But I do take comfort in knowing that my ideas have a potential audience beyond the people I know.

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