How times change; how books change

Studying for class by jakebouma
Penguin’s promoting some exploration of the concept of “book” in their We tell stories series, where six authors have contributed new works, each of which explores some aspect of on-line story-telling, sometimes quite distinct from more traditional printed books.

Not all of these are equally successful (I thought the idea of “The 21 steps” was better than the execution). My favorite of these is probably “Hard times”, by Matt Mason and Nicholas Felton. It’s a short, but (for me) very effective collection of data points making it clear how much things have changed and are changing, and hinting about what it might all mean down the road. Most of the info was at least somewhat familiar to me, but I love the way the details are brought together into a compact compelling argument — a sort of data poetry.

From Part VII: “Ideas are travelling faster” (crediting the data to Seth Goodin’s Unleashing the idea virus):

The time required to achieve Ten Million Users:

  • Radio: 40 years
  • Television: 15 years
  • Netscape: 3 years
  • Hotmail and Napster: < 1 year

Part IX-A has a tremendous title — “Our parents killed bad ideas with music. We kill bad ideas with new buiness models” — and delivers excellently on that promise.

Thanks to jakebouma for the cool photo.

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One Response to How times change; how books change

  1. Bill Tozier says:

    Playing with Hard Times, I suddenly discover that it has reached out and glued itself to me. Captures (and destroys) all keystrokes, so as I flip through browser windows with Cmd-`, I get stuck there. Can’t even close the window with Cmd-W.

    This would be technical and contextual gibberish, except that it’s somehow not as booklike, is it? It’s well-set, and nicely designed, and consistent and pleasing. But insofar as it’s booklike, it’s glued itself to my hands secretly as I pull it down from the shelf.

    But I like the content quite a bit.

    I wonder if a book that changes is no longer a book. And I don’t feel that’s bad at all.

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