In a project we’re currently undertaking that has allowed us to work through and figure out the future of the photo book I was compelled to read through this book called “The Most Beautiful Swiss Books” and the 2009 edition is called “The Future Issue.”
I like the play on words there and didn’t see it until just now.
The Future Issue. Like..it’s the issue from 2009, because this is an annual. But, the future is an issue to consider. Get it? Well..I didn’t until my coffee took hold.
There are a few relevant passages in here on design, the future of reading and publishing and that sort of thing.
* Everyone seems to be considering the iPad. This book was published after the iPad was announced but before it was made available. There should be a follow on to the points made in there. Maybe I’ll do that. Follow up with the critics and ask them. There is the usual bulwark, which is to say that there is something about the tangibility and materiality of the book that is precious, seminal and defines book. Something that people would still want.
Other points related to iPad-mania were to indicate the distinction between book-dedicated readers like Kindle and platforms like iPad in that there is always something available with the iPad to do other than read, which can pose distractions like..*shrug..why not check email now?
There was some excitement about the evolution of book design in the pad-electronic form. What compliments and extends paper, pages, binding and all that.
* And then there was the wonderful canonical reference to 2001 – A Space Odyssey which made me very happy. I had never noticed in the movie poster that there is an iPad, which was referred to as a Newspad in the book upon which the film was based. Bonus design fiction future issues!
* Mention was made to Wim Wenders seeking opinion on the extinction of movies in the context of the intrusion of television. Would books suffer the same fate as movies did when television appeared?
* Perhaps the most vibrant short essay questioned the phrase The future of. Something called “Experimental Jetset” — a collective of Graphic Designers in Amsterdam wrote that they dislike the three words “The future of..” saying they find “something about the phrase that completely puts us off.”
What bothers us most is the suggestion that the future is an unchangeable entity, something that develops completely independent of ourselves. A pre-determined path, to which we should adapt ourselves, whether we like it or not..
‘Our future’, is something that is manageable, shapeable, changeable, buildable, doable. ‘A future’ sounds pretty decent as well. A plural ‘the futures’? Why not? Just as long as we can get rid of the idea of the future as something that governs us, like some kind of pre-modern deity. Let us be reckless about it: we govern the future, not the other way around.
Perhaps this is the most encouraging perspective in the essays of the book, tucked neatly in near obscurity amongst the two other possible opinions: (1) veiled conceit for the iPad/nostalgic death-grip on the smell of leather, the artisinal bookbinders craft, &c.; (2) curious exuberance for this evolution in the rituals of reading.
Why do I blog this? Notes on opinions about the evolution of book writing, making and the cultural evolutions of reading and publishing practices. Plus the bonus design fiction chronicle on the iPad in 2001!