Friday, 16 October 2009

Vooks Apocalypse

Continuing the theme of the new technology and its integration with traditional print, here is a piece of video literature and discussion.

Watch the 8 minute video, read the transcript below and compare and contrast the efficacy of either media to communicate the same message and if you like, vote on it by leaving a comment.

Hello gentle readers and welcome to the future of literature. By this I don't inevitably refer to myself, but to this as visual presentation of the written. For gentle reader, we are being constantly told that the 21st Century mind wishes to assimilate its data inputs by means other than the book, ones which incur less time investment. Podcasts, videos and vooks. Ones that leave the hands free to make the devil's work (mis-said on video as "word"). And I would argue, Satan's serpent has indeed come to reclaim the apple of temptation with ruinous, maggoty usury.

One argument the technophiles use to promote the new publishing media, is that is saves on wood pulp. Preserving Nature, how ironic while we consistently wipe out species in the name of progress. 16 a day is the estimate, 35 if you include flora.

If I may be so bold as to employ literary tropes in a visual presentation, here follows a brace of allegories for the prospect we face staving off.

The Guerilla players - that's gu-guerilla, not go-gorilla - the guerilla players present for you some mis en scene. Is the film better than the book? (You can decide by reading the full script on the blog).

Bye bye "thou whoreson Zed, that unnecessary letter" said Shakespeare. And no one's going to miss your passing 'D'eee-light. Gone to the dogs. Throw me a fricking bone here. Okay, but only into the abyss. The animals went out two by two hurrah, hurrah. Say hi to the dodo down there. Where's Wally? (impromptu "Wally the Whale" added in video - filler by the mind when mentally scanning for prompt). Washed up on a dried up estuary probably and suffocated. Don't wail and blubber so my son, this is the will of your parents. The candle wax will come in useful for the power cuts. Perish the Elephant packing her trunk. If we just eviscerate Elly here, aw don't cry little boy. There we go, you can escort the letter 'E' off to the elephants' graveyard. It will have to stand for extinct form now on. Buzz buzz buzz off letter B, we all know your namesake creatures are fast disappearing off this earth. Plant payback for all the stolen honeyed nectar, though it won't do them the slightest bit of good either. The cat has finally used up the last of his nine lives. Off to the great kitty litter in the sky. And trepanning cousin Terry. No more tales of the "Tiger who came to Tea" for you little boy. From now on it will have to be the "Tourniquet Applied to the Tableleg" Mmm, veritably trips off the tongue. Still, some letters will be all right. Though kids will have to adjust to carrion crawlers like cockroach and blowfly. Sweet dreams.

Now a little older and I'd like you to imagine a queue of teenagers all lining up outside a club. Right around the building and circling back on itself. The letter "Q" you see, like I said. The wrinkle through it? The velvet sash behind which the bouncers stand, who can gain entry, who is refused. A metaphor for life itself. Anyway, to while away the wait, said kids are busy on their mobiles (fluffed, restated as "mobile phones"). "I'm in a queue in'it?" Or punching away at their texts, since we are all touch-typists now. All of us committing our thoughts in writing, that has to be a good thing right? Now conceive a shadowy figure - someone in a balaclava maybe, not too inconspicuous with the club wear of choice for these kids - he's moving up and down the line. Inclining his head in towards those phones held out at arms' length.
E’s ? Anyone want some E’s ? Eee-asy ! ‘E’s’ are good ! The best in fact. You E’d up ? Oh, you’re sorted ... Fair enough. How about you ? No ? ... C’mon. I got all your ‘E’ needs covered. I can iterate your pleasures for you. Determine the way you experience things. Contain your inhibitions. Distill wellbeing. Render you lover-lee. Or any other E-motion you care to name. No ? Okay then. What about you? You don't spell it like that! Bloody number racketeers moving in on our turf. Not a patch on us for legibility ... That's it, get shot of the '8', now you need a - yeah that's right mate, you do spell 'deal' with two 'E's' and I got just the ticket for you on that. Uh-oh, here comes that upstart U-pusher (accidentally reversed in the telling). One of the few who've had a renaissance in market share. It's all 'me me me with that U". A distinctly untrustworthy character if ever I met one. Time to up sticks and E is for exit.

So how will our future generations acquire the speech of naming, if all the early words limned with simple, happy, associative charge, the animals, the pretty coloured flowers, the orange sun and the blue sky, are blotted out from our primary copy-books? Our loquacity will be flat and lifeless, shorn of our fabled ability to fabricate literature and dreams. We'll need the virtual interfaces then to preserve our collective memory of these fabled beasts. The new dinosaurs in the virtual Natural history museum.

What will be the point of children learning to become fluent readers, if all future 'books' will read to them in the form of vooks, podcasts and videos? Early on in our flying solo reading career, entering the imaginative world of a book is how we expand our own range of thought and to forge new connections. In short, our thought processes take wing and spread through reading. School expands our (became "their" in performance) conceptual abilities even further, still dominated by the text book or set texts. In our present desire and present is a word that in Shakespeare's time meant 'immediate', a vestigial meaning that still lurks within it depending on the context in which it is used in prose, but one that is very unlikely to come across in a video - in our present desire for instant data, for scanning information, we risk changing our whole evolutionary future by sidelining the deep thought facilitated through books. When you read, your visual cortex has to connect up with your linguistic brain to decipher what is being said by the book. As soon as you put other inundations on the visual brain, such as with vooks and video, as soon as you introduce an audio aspect with podcasts and vocalised reading, the linguistic centres of the brain is no longer the sole focus and some of the layering of the words will inevitably get missed. How much of this have you been able to process first time through? It certainly took me considerably longer to compose than for you to hear it read out aloud. For all the complex demands of sight and sound stimuli, you can still be transported among a blacked out cinema or theatre audience. Not so sat at home sat in front of a monitor or on a train staring into your phone to read an e-book. To quote cognitive psychologist J.Bruner, the creative imagination offered up by the writer allows the reader to "go beyond the information given". To take the time to think. I don't credit that such time is afforded by the new technologies which are all about time saving and convenience. The inputs are regulated for you at a rate determined by pixel rates and data translation speeds. Reading online may give you the meat off the bone, but a book gives you access to the deep lying marrow. I'd say ask the dog which of the two he prefers, except we just consigned all canines (mutated to "him") to extinction.

Alles fuer der kinder not alles fuer der kindle.

Missed prop for the visual gag to end, covered with verbal "thank you")

* VOTE NOW * Place your virtual X/Y/Z in the comment box

X The print version had far more clarity (despite author's best attempts to cut up narrative flow by referencing divergences from the video)

Y The vid's the way to go man. I could still read my e-mails and check out a couple of blogs while I absorbed the message. Safe

Z None of the above/ This guy's as nutty as the Monster Raving Loony Party.

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