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In a vast majority of futuristic science fiction, reading books—or at least the owning of books—is no longer a part of everyday life.
Science fiction’s preoccupation with futuristic reading achieves real depth in the 2014 novel is science fiction at its best, and in many ways, is the first time the reading dystopias of other science fiction narratives are sufficiently explained.
In Graedon’s world, a tech company called Synchronicity Inc.
Speaking to the American Booksellers Association in 1989, science fiction demi-god Isaac Asimov asked his audience to imagine a sci-fi information storage device that, “Can go anywhere, and is totally portable.
Something that can be started and stopped at will along its data stream, allowing the user to access the information in an effective, easy manner.” After what I imagine was a dramatic pause, Asimov answered his own sci-fi riddle: “We have this device.
Make your dispositions on the basis of the timescale you can foresee and for which you have funding.
Preserve your objects to the best of your ability, and hand them on to your successor in good order at the end of your lap of the relay.” century Dickens is just sitting at a different holding position than we’re familiar with now.
Not only does this conceit allow for characters to obsess over cultural touchstones that make sense to us like real books (this, of course, checks out with Konnikova’s idea that reading something with spatial “heft” is relevant to our ability to retain the information).
So, if all these books are preserved in the future with ) then maybe the ubiquitous sci-fi reading dystopia isn’t as bad as first thought.
Maybe the real question is one of preservation: does text survive into the future and how?
Chris Rusbridge, the former director of the digital curation centre for JSTOR believes that the digital preservation of texts should be viewed not as ends in themselves, but instead, simply as ways we pass on the information: “[I] view digital preservation as a series of holding positions, or perhaps as a relay.