The Future of the Written Word…

The future replacemnet of long form text? Or maybe just War and Peace on a single page, your pick...

Psychologist Victor Nell once wrote “reading for pleasure is an extraordinary activity, the black squiggles on the white page are still as the grave, colorless as the moonlit desert; but they give the skilled reader a pleasure as acute as the touch of a loved body….”  It was1988 when Nell crafted this verbal dance predating the likes of our modern day Smartphone’s, tablets, and e-reading devices such as the Nook or Kindle.

Yet it’s only a mere 22 years not even a quarter century past that his words now tantalize us. As instead of the gleam of bleached bright white paper, the same “squiggles “ are instead brought to us on back lit screens on shiny new battery powered devices which now deliver the written word to us anywhere and anytime the day or night.

Yet many still yearn for a reto-reading experience held vivid in our memory as those black squiggles on the white page which Nell waxs about in deep poetic form.  As could you imagine engrossing yourself in the joys of War and Peace while swiping across the smooth and slippery surface of your iPhone.  While I’m personally a firm believer the death of the “printed” word is upon us, the next question which will come is the value of the “word” itself.

What you say, the printed “word” is now going the way of the Gutenberg press; well let’s look at it this way.  When was the last the average person [you know] has actually had the time to read a tome such as War and Peace?  We now live in a would which is limited by only 140 character per  tweet which end up themselves being re-tweeted which leads me to wonder how many times can the same thing be re-said?

As one of the main throttling factors here is the reality even a skilled reader can only read so many words per minute, whereas the number of words available to read per minute has been growing at an exponential pace.  This is happening at when our existing reading systems are far too slow and mechanical to keep up with our growing information consumption needs.

As with all advancements, they come in sigmoidial forms where we have slow introduction, fast rise and then a tailing off to the next paradigm shift if you will.  As the start of the trend, we are seeing content aggregation services forming which bring data together for us along with excerpting it much like Flipboard as you can have a thousand words and say the same in 5 however is it really the same?

While there are still more questions than answers out there, one of the new trends which I’m watching closely is “InfoGraphics” whereas complex information is taken and compressed into a tightly packed graphic which is somewhere between art and a business presentation.  While its unclear where this will sit in the world order of the “information spectrum”, it is a start in a new form of modal communication of which are sure to see more.  Chinese ideograms any one…

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About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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