No matter how much the web, communication, and the world is inundated by pictures and videos, it will always be based in a world of text. Now I am a huge fan of movies, good TV shows (even if they’re watched online), and all manner of graphics that do an incredible job of communicating meaning, but the real underpinning of all of this is still the written word.
It is the script, text on a printed page, that drives the actors on screen. The newscaster or politician reading off the teleprompter. It is now making a high-profile splash through the use of short text messages and Twitter posts using pocket devices.
And though the home set of encyclopedias has all but vanished, and general book sales have been waning for years, one of the most popular forms of personal expression is writing. Topical books on politics and personal celebrity biographies are all the rage. Not to mention how much popularity there still is about everything James Patterson or J.K. Rowling publish. And though there are new alternative outlets for their written work, like the Kindle digital book, or even audiobooks (to which the reader adds an extra level of artistic performance) the written word is still king.
The law, though it may be supported by photos or graphics, will for the foreseeable future be the basis of our societies. And it is the written word that will be preserved, to be a guide for those generations that will come after us.
As we transform and convert all that we create to digital formats, for the purposes of copying, distributing, and preserving, we must remember that even the images of our lives, as put on our computers, are based and suspended in written computer code. A written language foreign to most, drives much of our modern world, and is behind every computer.
But the computers of the world function as abstractions, or tools that abstract us from reality. I click the mouse on my screen, which is an abstraction of a selection, of a command, of code, of a binary number sequence which is the reality of that mouse click. But it is the computer that uses and understands the binary code, an extrapolation of billions of logical yes/no’s per second. And in the computer age, “1″ is king and “0″ is queen, while everything else is just subjects in the binary monarchy.
I don’t live in that kingdom. I know of it, and can dip my toes in it when needed, but until the machines rise up against us, I will stay in my world. Where the word is still king. Where I will struggle to place the characters together in a pattern that will communicate meaning.