Friday, October 05, 2007

Stephen Levy & Technology

There is an interesting interview with Newsweek’s technology writer, Steven Levy, on Ubiquity, Volume 8, Issue 39 (October 2, 2007 – October 8, 2007). You can find the entire interview at

The abstract reads: Steven Levy, the chief technology writer for Newsweek magazine, has written a number of best-selling books, the latest of which is The Perfect Thing: How the iPod Shuffles Culture, Commerce, and Coolness. When we asked acclaimed software developer Marney Morris to comment on this interview and she responded: "I've been reading Steven Levy's thoughts on technology for over 20 years, and he is still as fresh and insightful as he was back then -- in the beginning days of the personal computer. Steven weaves the implications of technology change into social meaning with wit and intelligence. He was the best, brightest and funniest guy in the tech arena before he moved to Newsweek in '95, and he still is. He is a great guy and a great journalist. I'm honored that I got to say so."

Here is a sample:

What about the future of the book, and printing, and reading?

I think about that a lot. I think that, as wonderful as the form of the book is, it's ridiculous to think that we're not going to come up with some electronic device that is able to replicate 99% of the good stuff about a physical book along with all the extra virtues you could have, like electronic storage. It's going to happen. I don't know whether it's going to happen in five years or ten years or thirty years. But it's got to happen, and you're going to have something which is flexible and as readable - and pleasurable as a physical book. And they'll have all the stuff that comes with being digital - searchability, connectivity, you name it. And that's going to be a huge change, and eventually it will change the way writers work and what they write, just as the printed book made the novel possible. So I think that, in the short term, yeah, you find me still writing books and hoping that people will still buy the books. And I think they will buy books, if not necessarily mine. But in the long term all publishing has got to be electronic, and I think that's going to change a lot of things. Some of those changes will be things that we'll miss, but I think that if you take a broad view of history, everything will work out just fine. You know, it's sad in a sense that we don't have the oral tradition, that we don't sit and tell long stories over bonfires. We've moved on to something else. Maybe it's time to return.

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