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I think that books have lost prominence, though. People have found that there are mediums that convey their messages far better.

The book isn't dead. But it's not as used now as it was in the past. People with visions and dreams find that it's easier to make movies, or form bands. Some people write, yes, but the book is not as dominant as it was in 1900. The same stands for the play and the concerto.

Blogs still have their uses. But now, things exist that work better for a lot of people. Twitter and Tumblr come to mind immediately.




" People with visions and dreams find that it's easier to make movies, or form bands. Some people write, yes, but the book is not as dominant as it was in 1900. The same stands for the play and the concerto."

Any references to back this up?

I bet it's easier to self-publish a book than it is to make a movie.


Yes. I used to get nearly all of my programming information from books or at least tutorials. Now I get nearly all of it just from resources scattered around the web.


I've never read a book on programming. I read books for certain things: I love books on marketing and I'll probably read Tufte in hard form, I have a copy of his stuff. But for programming I learned almost exclusively online: nowadays, I use the online books that Coda provides.

To be fair, I'm not a brilliant programmer. So I don't know if I'm missing out by learning online.


I self-published a book in my senior year of high school, so yes. That's possible.

However, I referred to the set of genres overall. The book certainly is not dead. However, it takes up less of the "fine arts" market proportionally than it did a hundred years ago, and that's because other genres exist that allow people certain other freedoms.

It is easier to form a band now than it was a hundred years ago. A hundred years ago, it would have been extremely difficult, and there was less of a popular focus. There wasn't the insane level of attention to rock stars back then. And motion pictures didn't exist at all. Neither did animated pictures or video games.

This is applicable to the blogging situation as follows: 5 years ago, if you wanted to write online, a blog was the best way to go. Now? Not necessarily. Now you can Tweet if that serves your purpose, or you can maintain a videolog or a tumblelog. Many friends of mine abandoned their blogs for Tumblr for precisely that reason: it fits their needs. And yes, that's still technically a blog, but the format has changed. There are different rules and there is focus on different things. It's entirely different from maintaining a blog on Wordpress or Movable Type.

Nowadays, I don't see very many interesting posts from personal blogs. The blog posts I DO find interesting come from only a few places. The attention has changed to a variety of different mediums. Look at r/bestof/ on Reddit: suddenly, there are people who come to attention entirely through metaposting. Or, to take my example, I now link to my HN threads on my site and I've abandoned my blog for essays. It lets me build up a better relation between content that I write on the fly and content that builds up, that I slowly formulate and revise.

Of course the book isn't dead, or even dying, though in my opinion it's been 50 years since the last truly revolutionary piece of pure literature (Beckett). However, now if you've got a mind for expression there are more writing-based venues available. 100 years ago, you either wrote poetry, wrote novels, or wrote plays. Now you have lyric writing, film-writing, and game writing available. That fits what people want much more.

Look at the invention of science fiction: when movies first appeared, literature stopped dealing with sci-fi largely for several decades, because the minds that were attracted to sci-fi were attracted to cinema. The same thing is happening with video games right now: not all but many writers are joining on the science fiction game bandwagon. And so, if I were a game designer looking at a bunch of college students interested in science fiction, I might very well advise the students that novel writing might NOT be the best way to go on with sci-fi. Some people would ignore that and go on and try, but with so many other venues available, there's less of a pressure for books. That's how I see this article: it's an argument that a blog isn't necessary anymore. That doesn't mean people won't like it, and use it, but it means that blogging is no longer the primary source of content on the Internet.


"I self-published a book in my senior year of high school."

I'm curious, what did you write about? Fiction/non-fiction? Still writing or just hacking?

Putting a book together at that age is a respectable achievement.


It was a novel. I published it through CreateSpace, so it could be found on Amazon; it's online at Scribd at http://www.scribd.com/doc/3319195/gstepl.

I still write, though I haven't written anything as ambitiously. My start-up is one that focuses on creative writers who want to learn to write at a more professional level, so it lets me get away with doing both. And I'll probably be writing something for NaNoWriMo in November: if I like that, I'll spend a little bit revising and seeing if any publishers are interested.

The two things go nicely together, because with literature you get used to putting things together haphazardly until they work: hacking gives you a more utilitarian approach to doing things. I find that when I'm in the middle of programming, I write better - if that makes any sense to you.


Interesting speculation.


Are you somehow saying that a band is in some way equivalent to a book? Songs are just emotional, they don't transfer any information. I don't even know how you can make the statement you made - a book can convey so many thoughts because it's slow and complex. You can absorb ideas by reading that you cannot by watching movies. Movies run at their own pace, books run at your pace.

It's NOT easier to make a movie. A movie is a masive logistical effort. Forming bands is just a trendy thing, but most bands I know produce silly music. They say banal things.

Writing is still the backbone of human thought. In whatever form it comes - the well thought out written word will always accompany human civilisation.


Are you somehow saying that a band is in some way equivalent to a book?

A songwriter and a novelist are both instances of artists. Such is my point: there are more levels of entry for writers nowadays.

Songs are just emotional, they don't transfer any information.

Several bands I listen to weave complex narratives into their music. Similarly, several novelists I read transfer very little information through their novels. Your statement is not entirely accurate.

You can absorb ideas by reading that you cannot by watching movies.

Of course! But you must remember that the opposite is true as well. Movies can convey things that books can't possibly attempt to show. The same with music, for that matter.

Movies run at their own pace, books run at your pace.

Of course. But that's irrelevant to my argument, which is that the book is no longer the only place to which writers flock. If you're young and want to write, a novel isn't the only thing you can write anymore. Just as people with ideas for scenes sometimes write movie scripts now rather than plays. A friend of mine is like that: I write play scripts, he writes movie scripts. If movies didn't exist, he might have become a playwright instead. Similarly, somebody who would have been a blogger 5 years ago might subsist entirely on Twitter or even Facebook Notes now.

I would also mention the TV show as a counterpoint to what you said, wherein episodes become almost chapters. You can either watch slowly, once a week, or you can watch it in massive doses when the DVD comes out. I just watched Twin Peaks like that last week.

It's NOT easier to make a movie. A movie is a masive logistical effort

I never said it was easier, I said it was an option. And it's easier for movies to convey certain types of information.

Forming bands is just a trendy thing, but most bands I know produce silly music. They say banal things.

Look at Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields as a perfect example of somebody who uses the lyric to greatest advantage. But either way, that's not my point. People who want to write nowadays very often write lyrics. I'd say more write lyrics nowadays than write novels, or poetry. That means that the pool of poets and novelists is less, because people have more venues to follow through.

Writing is still the backbone of human thought. In whatever form it comes - the well thought out written word will always accompany human civilisation.

Of course. I never said it wasn't, or that it wouldn't. But words appear in multiple mediums. David Foster Wallace said in interviews that he thought the best-written thing of this last decade was The Wire. I think the best-written thing I've read was either Achewood, which is a comic, or House of Leaves, which borders on visual art. Things branch out, and that's the point I wanted to make.




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