Submitted: The Two Sides Team May 16, 2013
I like the Internet as much as the next blogger. I don’t think online media is making us any dumber than we already are. But the Internet will never replace print media for me. I love the look of print. I love the feel of print. I love the smell of print. And I’m irritated by exaggerated reports about the death of print.
14 May 2013 – Huffington Post
By Ariel Gore
I like the Internet as much as the next blogger. I don’t think online
media is making us any dumber than we already are. But the Internet
will never replace print media for me. I love the look of print. I love
the feel of print. I love the smell of print. And I’m irritated by
exaggerated reports about the death of print.
Brainless print publications that were only in business to chase
advertising dollars might be dying a long-overdue death, but if I have
anything to say about it, print itself lives.
I started my first print zine, Hip Mama,
when I was in college. I passed it along a few years ago, but when I
heard that the new publishers were on the brink of going completely
digital, I dropped my other projects and decided to reclaim my magazine.
Because print’s not dead to me. None of us needs more screen time. We
need tactile, homemade media we can hold in our hands-the kind of media
that allows for rumination and slow-sprouting inspiration, not just
quick comments and e-fights.
No, print’s not dead. To me, print will always mean life. Yep, I love print. Let me count the ways.
1. Print Gets Your Hands Dirty.
I’ve never had a traditional 9 to 5 job, but I’ve been working all of my
life. I earned my first paychecks by folding and delivering the San Francisco Chronicle
in the dark hours of morning. I landed the job when I was eight years
old. And for the next six years, my hands were black with the ink of
news and self-reliance.
2. Print Lets Me Unplug My Ego.
When I’m reading a great story online, I sometimes “share” it before
I’ve even gotten to the end. My “friends” — many of whom I’ve never met
— “like” it while I’m still reading. By the time I get to the last
line I’ve already got a couple of comments complimenting me on my fine
taste in stories. This makes me feel important and well-connected. Now, what was that great story about?
3. Print Is Intimate.
All media is communication. But reading black marks on a page is the
most intimate form of communication that exists. Social media never
really mitigates my existential loneliness. But somehow even alone in a
candle-lit cave in Tibet, if I’m reading the words of a dead feminist
poet, there can be no isolation.
4. Print Remembers Where It Came From.
I have a lot of my mother’s books. I have some of my grandmother’s
books. I even have a few of my great-grandmother’s books. I love it when
I stumble on a particular passage that one of them has underlined.
Sometime I recognize their shaky handwritten notes in the margins. My
mother tended to underline in black. My grandmother preferred red. My
great-grandmother used a pencil, but I’ll never erase her words.
5. Print Gets Warped and Dog-Eared.
A few years back, I edited and published an anthology called Portland Queer.
I had it printed and bound old-school at the local anarchist Eberhardt
Press in Portland. It wouldn’t have cost me anything more to produce a
digital edition, but I didn’t bother. The first printing of Portland Queer
sold out within a few weeks. The collection won a LAMBDA Literary
Award. But nothing filled my heart with quite the same pride as seeing a
bathtub-warped and dog-eared copy of the book in someone’s bathroom in
faraway Santa Fe. Yes, you can read print while you soak in the tub.
(Trust me, it’s a very poor idea to take your iPhone into the bathtub).
6. Print Is Sexy.
When my girlfriend’s in bed with her reading glasses on and a book in
her hands — that’s sexy. When she’s sitting there squinting at her
iPhone, well — not so much — then I just think she’s having an
emotional affair on Facebook.
7. Print Survives the Apocalypse.
I was raised among hippies who perpetually insisted that the shit was about to hit the fan, man,
the grid was going down, and civilization would soon collapse into
unplugged utopian chaos. My apocalypse survival pack includes a Haruki
Murakami book, a copy of the latest Lucky Peach magazine, and a
mini letterpress set for emergency zine-making. When the world as we
know it ends and we’re all refugees trudging toward an unknown future, I
won’t be carrying my laptop.
8. Print Keeps Our Secrets.
If I read something online, my reading is tracked and tallied by the Big
Brother internet brain that targets my tastes and sends ads chasing me
from Google to YouTube and back again. But unless I order it from
Amazon, hardly anyone can guess what I’m reading in print. And stealthy
education, it turns out, is what books were invented for. Up until the
third or fourth century A.D., Europeans had to unroll their books to
read them. Scrolls evolved into folded pages. Folded pages became
gathered pages — what we now call books. Why books instead of scrolls?
Early rebel Christians found they could be made smaller and therefore
more convenient when it came to keeping spiritual texts hidden from
Roman authorities. Plans for the revolution will not go viral.
9. Print Lives. And Keeps on Living.
This isn’t the first time print media has been declared dead. Back in
the ’60s, people without imagination were sure television spelled the
end of print. My old journalism professor, Clay Felker, responded by
reinventing the American magazine — not with short, ultra-visual media
that imitated TV, but with long-narrative and novelistic-style writing
that added layers of emotional depth to traditional reporting. He had no
problem with the Internet. He appreciated online media’s ability to
focus on psychographic communities over demographic communities. But new
media didn’t mean the death of the old — to each its own narrative
10. Print Doesn’t Get Jealous.
Before anyone accuses me of being a purist or a Luddite, let me say
again that I don’t hate the internet. Lucky for me, print doesn’t care
if I watch TV or waste a night reading the BuzzFeed. In fact, I’m
relying on new-fangled online crowdfunding at Kickstarter to make sure
print lives. Click to it here See? Print didn’t mind that at all.
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