I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we’re headed for a post-text era, but here are some indications that — according to some — text will decline as we are able to talk instead: to cameras, to each other, and to machines.
I’ve been listening to Jeff Gomez’ Print is Dead (the fact that I’m listening instead of reading is not, itself, intended to be a commentary… but maybe it is…). When faced with fears that we are becoming a post-literate society of nonreaders (see below), Gomez makes the arguments I do: That we still do read, more than ever, it may just not be so much in the forms we used to; that is, reading online is still reading. But now I see two predictions that reading online will also decline.
Robert Feinman says in this comment that video is taking over:
I think this was the year where video replaced words as the most popular way for people to express themselves online. This fits with my feeling that we are entering the post-literate age. Youngsters have little interest in reading or writing, but understand all the nuances of the visual language used in TV and film. YouTube may be the next place to be.
Now add this prediction from today’s Times about the impact of much faster processing on our communication with machines:
Microsoft executives argue that such an advance would herald the advent of a class of consumer and office-oriented programs that could end the keyboard-and-mouse computing era by allowing even hand-held devices to see, listen, speak and make complex real-world decisions — in the process, transforming computers from tools into companions.
I’m not ready to declare text dead or our intelligence ruined because of it. I don’t see one medium as inherently inferior to another — that is, a movie can be a great way to tell a story and a book is not, our snobbishness about print aside, necessarily better. Still, I take the point that these changes do move us past text and that will have many reverberations, some good, some not.