Judging from the stream of comments and re-tweets, this subject is on many minds. Let me clarify:
I was not proposing an either/or. E-books are very convenient for certain uses! Light, compact, and when you’ve finished a “beach book” you don’t have to leave it in a hotel room drawer. And there are those trees to consider, though many countries are now growing quick-wood-as-crop, and some predict the return of hemp paper. (Durable, that.)
I was suggesting prudence, and a backup system. For instance, all those who switched entirely to tape and transferred their family movies onto it and then threw out the celluloid may be in for an unpleasant surprise as their loved ones fade from view. New technologies are, well, new. If there’s something you really, really want to keep, should you entrust it entirely to electronic form?
Some of you have thought I was joking. Well, the marshmallow part was a bit of a joke, I confess. If things get really dire you’re more likely to be toasting the cat :-) Others have accused me of being alarmist, and of lying. So here are a few sources:
Solar Flares: New Scientist. Hardly an unprofessional rag.
Internet Brownouts: MacWorld. In the business, I’d say.Wouldn’t they know?
Energy Shortages, Peak Oil: There’s a huge amount on this. Hard to pick one site. But here’s a pro & con debate from 2008; the points made haven’t changed a lot since then. (Why Canadian Business? Before you start on the Canadian jokes, take a look at where the oil is in the world. Oil sands included.)
Those of us who remember the days of rationing during WW2 know that when commodities get scarce, it’s the “frills” that go first. We recall the absence of balloons, and of coloured comics… Story-telling – narrative – is not a frill: it comes with the human territory. But e-books are, and if energy is the item in short supply, they’ll be cut off. Of course, maybe paper for books will be, too… It’s happened before, here and there, now and then.
NOTE: Now kids, don’t fight in the Comments. Courteous language, please! You are all readers, and in the Big Text Ship together. Soon I will post a blog on written voicecodes (alphabets, writing systems) and what they do.