Dr John Smith: How will the written word change?

How will the written word change in the future, asks Dr John
How will the written word change in the future, asks Dr John

Our home is full of books.

We find it difficult to throw them away, occasionally give them away, sometimes offer them to friends on a long-term loan, but for the most part we hoard them – on shelves, desks, tables, the floor and even the stairs.

They are a safety hazard but we often re-read them.

And when I do that I discover some of my worst habits; bent-over page corners, underlining, and comments in the margins – worse still I often write in them, usually something about the time in which I read them.

This is part of some writing I recently discovered:

“It is the 3rd March 2001. The coal fire is burning nicely; the snow is outside, our dog asleep on the rug. If you read the last page you will find that it was written in 1961.

It describes a different world when, for example, to make a long-distance telephone call you dialled 0 to go through the operator at the telephone exchange.

Now we have mobile phones, email, and faxes – well we don’t have any of those. Perhaps we are of an age when we begin to resist change”.

Thirteen years on we have adapted and have all of these and more, the worldwide web has changed everything and to my shame we even have a kindle, it is good for reading in bed at 3am!

But we have resisted Facebook and Twitter so far. We even text but we prefer to talk and listen. Reading what I had written brought me up short.

The coal fire has gone, the dog has died, we all have to adapt to change and, if we wish, embrace it. Love it or hate it, it often makes life easier.

And it sometimes makes life difficult when local shops can’t compete with on-line.

Whatever the next decade brings I know not, and as much as I love the written word, let us hope we still talk to each other and see our faces light up with the joy of human contact.

Whatever the successors to Facebook and Twitter are there can be no substitute for that.