Calling Bullshit on "Our Post-Text Future”

Pushing back on the NYTimes.

February 11, 2018

"I’ll make this short: The thing you’re doing now, reading prose on a screen, is going out of fashion.”

"There seems no going back now. For text, the writing is on the wall.”

Farhad Manjoo, Welcome to the Post-Text Future

2/9/18, The New York Times

The reports of the death of text are greatly exaggerated.

Predictions of the demise of writing, and the end of reading, predictably occur with every information revolution.

Just as radio and then television failed to kill writing and reading, so will the app. Online videos, tweets, and multimedia podcasts will contribute to our information ecosystem - but they will not displace short or long-form prose.

How do incredibly smart people, such as Farhad Manjoo, continue to get our information future so wrong?

My guess is that Manjoo, like you and me, is immersed in text. How much of our days are spent reading and writing? Compare how much time and energy we spend creating and consuming text, as compared to that spent on multimedia.

Save for reality television, even the media we consume started out as words on a page.Audiobooks are not born audio, but as text. We even learn about our post-text future not through a video, tweet, or podcast - but from words on a screen (or a page).

All indications point to the conclusion that the global market for books is strong, and continues to get stronger. We can only guess at what it will mean for the worldwide book business as hundreds of millions of new readers become consumers of books in China, India, and other emerging economies.

My experience has been that each new technology only increases the amount of time that I spend reading and writing. I highly doubt that I’m alone.

How much more do we write since computers and word processors replaced typewriters? How much did writing, and therefore reading, increase when typewriters came on the scene?

The screens that I carry with me - from laptop to e-book to phone - are screens I use for reading text. You as well?

Text is our most efficient mechanism for creating and sharing ideas. The information density of text is unsurpassed by any other medium. Complicated ideas require words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages.

How much of your day is spent with text?

Why did the NYTimes get our information future so wrong?


Be the first to know.
Get our free daily newsletter.


Back to Top