Newspapers Doomed - SF Writers

Science fiction writers see newspapers as a very delicate medium; we're entering a period of history in which they are being challenged like never before. It's not bad enough that people read so few books and magazines (let alone newspapers); the Internet economics of news delivery (zero cents) are driving the price of news to nothing.

In his 1953 classic Fahrenheit 451, sf Grandmaster Ray Bradbury writes this about the fate of newspapers:

"... How like a beautiful statue of ice it was. I remember the newspapers dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them. And then the Government, seeing how advantageous it was to have people reading only about passionate lips and the fist in the stomach, circled the situation...

Stanislaw Lem didn't think they'd last, either. In his 1961 novel Return From the Stars, he wrote that although virtually every book imaginable was available for reading, almost no one did. They preferred lectons that would read to you.

But optons were little used, the sales-robot told me. The public preferred lectons - like lectons read out loud, they could be set to any voice, tempo, and modulation. Only scientific publications having a very limited distribution were still printed, on a plastic imitation paper.

Don't forget the babble machines from H.G. Wells' futuristic classic When the Sleeper Wakes, set in the far future.

Graham learnt that so far as the more prosperous classes were concerned, in all the more comfortable private apartments of the city were fixed Babble Machines that would speak directly a lever was pulled. The tenant of the apartment could connect this with the cables of any of the great News Syndicates that he preferred...

In a recent article (published online, natch), modern-day sf writer Cory Doctorow doesn't think that newspapers will last much longer, either.

Let me start by saying that I like newspapers. And let me say further that, no matter how much I like them, they just might not have a future...

What happened to newspapers is easy to understand: There are more and better ways for an advertiser to deliver ads of similar quality to the "spendiest" newspaper readers, most of them on the Internet.

Doctorow doesn't seem to think much of school books, either: in his recent novel Little Brother, he writes about a standard laptop that every schoolchild will have - a 'SchoolBook they can use to read news on as well.

On the other hand, they're still here. Newspapers just have to learn how to use their wide-screen display, unlimited readable life (no batteries) and their archival quality (once you've got it in print, it can't be changed, retracted or redacted).

Read more about Cory Doctorow's opinions on newspapers, music and movies.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 2/24/2009)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 1 )

Related News Stories - (" Communication ")

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.' - William Gibson, 1986.

BrainNet Social Network Of Brains
'I used my implant to tell MILLIE what we wanted and she took care of it' - Pournelle and Niven, 1981.

Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) Workshop
SF writers have thought about this since the 19th century.

Burner Generates Temporary Phone Numbers
'Interesting phone system he's got, by the way...' - John Varley, 1984.

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

Soon, Your Tesla Will Follow You Like A Pet
'... follow him as faithfully as a well-trained hound.'

Chinese Watrix Gait Recognition Watching You Always
'... those pesky gait-recognition cameras.'

FlexPai Foldable Phone By Royole
'...A paper thin polycarbon screen unfurled.'

Oh Yes, We're Building The Rotating Tower In Dubai
'Give me an old-fashioned tetragon on a central pivot every time.'

Bioreactor Helps Legless Frogs Get Their Jump Back
'An alien drug... Used by an insect race... It can repair bones and organs. It can grow new tissue."

Xinhua AI Anchor Puts CGI Face To Automated News
'...a congeries of software agents.'

Wirewax Watching You Watch, Adjusting Your Experience
'He adjusted the n, the r and b knobs, and hopefully anticipated a turn for the better...'

LawGeex AI Beats 20 Top Lawyers
'The Law Society has strict rules on the use of pseudo-intelligent software - terrified of putting... its members out of work.'

ROAM Robotics Skiing Exoskeleton
'The real genius in the design is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it...'

MIT Headset Lets You Communicate Without Speaking
'The subvocal read nerve signals, letting her enter words by just beginning to will them...'

Exploring Oceans Across The Solar System
'Black liquid flashed past the turbotís infrared eyes.'

SWEEPER Robot Peter Piper Picking Peppers
'... little machines, that went from plant to plant, apparently on caterpillar tracks, cutting off the ripe fruit.'

Oil from Algae - Can It Be Done?
'We dump everything that's waste into the tanks, pump the oil off the top.'

Moving Whole Planets, Revisited
There was a lot of work done on this idea over the years.

Disney Keeps Backups Of Star Wars Franchise Actors
'She is a personality-construct, a congeries of software agents...'

Farming In Space Starts With Mycorrhiza
'The inner leaves were beginning to curl faster than the outer leaves.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.