On Being Positive in August

Vint Cerf, who is one of the internet’s founding fathers had a nice positive piece in last Sunday’s Observer If you thought the internet was cool, wait until it goes space age

It’s amazing how quickly those of us with internet access have come to take for granted the remarkable amounts of information we have at our disposal, but we’re only seeing the beginnings. The bulk of human knowledge remains offline. As more of us get access to the internet, more of the world’s information will find its way online.

Cerf is right. We havent seen the middle of the beginning, merely the beginning of the beginning. There is a lot of knowledge to be shifted in the next ten years. Virtualised. Objective Knowledge, which has been printed in books is now being dumped in the cloud.

The publishing industry too often has a depressing air of worry about digital technologies. Sometimes Amazon fear. Sometimes Google gloom. Too many possibilities. New technology can, after all, be a bit challenging to an established industry.

But, who can doubt that digital publishing will be a golden age for publishers and authors? Even staid old Television (which relies on mid-2oth Century technology, not on our Renaissance invention of moveable type) can, according to Mark Cuban, be rejuvenated by the application of a new technology. Boring 73″, High Definition, flat panel TVs which have led to audience surges for the Olympics.

I dont have a flat panel TV. If I did, since its a digital device, I would want it to bring me the daily newspaper (all of them), magazines and books by the truckload. And why not?

Publishers need to consider the possibility that anything that can be published, will certainly be published digitally, and will, in principle, be available anywhere from many devices. That does not mean that it all will be free (why should it mean that?). But it does mean that it will either be available for free (sponsored by advertising) or because someone wants to buy, give, or rent it. That is a medium term horizon. Cerf should live long enough to see the end of the beginning.

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