This is a response written to a comment on someone’s FB profile…
The medium does effect the message, for sure.
One thing to keep in mind is how we locate the material which we read, and that it’s storage location has a huge impact on our perception of the information contained within. You can’t go to the ‘used digital book store’ and find some long lost gem, or dig through someone’s archive of digital books at a garage sale. Nor do digital files have that wonderful ‘old bookstore smell’. So much of an object’s permanence and experience is lost when it becomes digital. Magazines no loner get collected and referred to years later, because the nature of the media in which it is stored (the hard drive) is NOT permanent. HD crashes, the devices become obsolete, and as they do decay in relevance so does the information that was stored and displayed on them.
In addition, the ease in which digital media can be produced has created a glut of sub-par material. Book covers from 30 years ago were art, and were relevant and beautiful. Now most covers could easily be templates and not even created specifically for that work. Most digital media seems so disposable, and of-the-time rather then relevant over the long term. Like putting a URL on someone’s tombstone and expecting it to mean anything in 300 years. It just won’t.
Think about architecture, specifically the modern movement of the 30′s – 70′s, then post-modernism and how so many of the amazing works were modified or destroyed, then the revival of it in the mid to let 90′s. People finally saw how wonderful modernism was – the fact that an objects beauty could have a positive impact on the people’s life who lived in it, and on the people around them. I think (and truly hope) that the pattern will be repeated here with books and physical media. All of these digital technologies are so new and we are so smitten with them yet they have no permanance. There will be a time where books and physical media will be new again, and a new generation of people who are experiencing these things for the first time will fall in love.