Technology "sweeping away" books, says Stoppard

LONDON Tue Jun 22, 2010 6:22am EDT

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LONDON (Reuters) - Books are at risk of being "swept away" by a world of new technology and moving images which are increasingly winning the competition for children's attention, says British playwright Tom Stoppard.

Stoppard, who has written for television, radio and film, also warned the study of humanities was being neglected in favor of science. "The printed word is no longer as in demand as when I was of the age of pupils or even at the age of the teachers teaching them," newspapers quoted Stoppard as saying.

Children live in a world of technology where the moving image takes precedence over the printed page, he said.

"I think that's to the detriment ... I just don't want the printed page to get swept away by that."

Speaking ahead of an address to an education charity established by the Prince of Wales to encourage teachers to look at what they should teach and how, Stoppard said teaching of humanities had been affected by a drive to prioritize science-based subjects.

"There was a period when I was 30 or 40 when science teaching was felt to have lagged and felt to be the area which would improve everybody's life, and I'm sure that that was the case and that was the right moment for that," he said.

"Since then we have been more and more worried about the humanities being neglected and at the level of higher education that is a cause of enormous concern."

The author plays like "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead" and "The Real Thing" said children had access to a better curriculum than ever before, covering young authors and playwrights, but he insisted that more awareness was needed to ensure the subject was appealing.

"I want to support the whole idea of the humanities and teaching the humanities as being something that even if it can't be quantitatively measured as other subjects, it's as fundamental to all education," he said.

(Writing by Kylie MacLellan; Editing by Steve Addison)

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Comments (1)
WastingtonDC wrote:
The library business, and such it is, a business, with union members, teachers and professional librarians, including two of the toughest and most capable of the ladies in my family, is anchored in a failed business model that is over, and done. Libraries that provide free wireless within and around their buildings will survive, and those that give away all their non-antiquity printed matter, save perhaps children’s books, in favor of a Google Free World Library, will survive and prosper. God help us, if governments get into the library business as suggested in these comments. The bureaucrats will excel at protecting university stacks from all but honors students, and worm eaten common books, and the jobs associated with the failed physical printed matter model, to the detriment of all humans every where, forever.

With the American billionaires that may well succeed in giving every child on the planet internet access, and the Russian billionaire in Google working to provide all content in existence, from a single source, free to the least of us, and for micro-payments for the rest, a solution is at hand. We must move on, stop killing and transporting trees, ink and other physical publications all over the planet, so that producers and consumers can, together, provide every child on earth that can get a Bill Gates/Warren Buffet scholarship, (free internet access device) in hand, with all the world’s content, via the Google World Free Library. That useful library can function forever, supported by content consumers willing to deposit a few hundred dollars with PayPal, with sufficient float to support the Google World Free Content, and guarantee our micro-payments, for our chosen consumption, on a trust but verify honor system, of just those providers we choose to read, or view past the Pay Author/Producer line.

Remember, production and sale of physical content is a failed business model! That said, and gotten out of the way, we move on, to repeating the mantra that I fervently hope will convince Sir Rupert Murdoch to destroy the failed business model of physical publishing, as he is destroying the failed business model of network television, at least in the soul destroying bundled butchery form in which it is practiced, in America.

Google, PayPal, and Sir Rupert must now agree to formulate and execute my Lomax two cent solution, to the multi-billion dollar problem that is destroying the Lame Stream Media in particular, and the physical publishing industry, in general. Consumers of content must be enabled to pay their two cents for each article, and twenty five cents, for each book or film they choose to consume, directly to the producer of their chosen content, with none of the collected millions of pennies paid to read the perfection of Charles Krauthammer’s 800 word article diverted to paying for union employees destroying trees, or hauling them to mill, press, newsstand, home and then our landfills. The same goes for the world’s books also made available in my oft suggested Google’s Global Free Library, at no cost whatever, for all the children who will never see more than a few printed books. The content can be presented for pay, on a trust but verify honor system, for those folks who have the where withal necessary to click on the author’s payment line, after the standard teaser allowance, or where ever the best producers choose to put their pay me now, click to read on, line.

Billions of readers of a dozen or a few online media outlets daily, are ready to put a PayPal Googler’s $100, or more, as necessary, for the float to allow Google to maintain their Free Library, the day their geeks get the “how to do it securely” bits worked out.

Sir Rupert must strike, again, to make another bold step change to an industry, as with Fox and the WSJ, albeit it means the immediate destruction of billions of dollars of his family owned monopoly infrastructure. Since that union driven waste of resources was devised, back in the day, for controlling writers, artists, and their fans, or herding cats, if you will, and is doomed to extinction in any event, being the first adapter is sure to save and make Sir Rupert’s family more money, in the long run.

We want to pay our writers directly, with the free market shaping the systems that deliver us content, and we will not abide any approach that limits the anarchy apparent in Sir Rupert Murdoch’s Market Watch commentary approach. That is: with 5000 characters allowed per comment, with it all archived to embarrass either writers or their detractors, non-censored, and only mildly refereed. Basically it is bare knuckle combat, politely stated, and encouraged as commentary.
Fair and balanced, open commentary began, and has been refined, in Market Watch. It has been increasingly emulated, albeit poorly executed in some outlets. I have repeatedly called for this free for all approach, in NYT, and throughout the industry, by media outlets hoping for any sort of survival, in any form.

Producers refusing to allow Google to provide their content free, to all the world’s poorest oppressed peoples, can allow themselves to be chosen, or forced to kiss physical publisher’s rings, and respect their bias, whilst paying their unions to destroy the planets lungs. The rest of us will gladly join the schools recently giving away their physical collections, and begin paying a professor/text author, $.25 for lifetime use of his newest book, eagerly sought after, if it’s any good. Not $56.37, as now common with textbook authors scratching each other’s backs by changing texts annually. Of course, those less useful will find no place on our go anywhere net books, with reader apps, as appropriate.

Why would I buy both a reader and a laptop, PC, netbook? More importantly for the vendors, why would I buy a cell phone, or other personal device, when my one go anywhere small computer does it all, with a blue tooth earpiece that is all we need, in the real world.

Jun 22, 2010 9:36am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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