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New atheist Sam Harris has some interesting things to say about the new media

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From “The Future of the Book” (The Daily Beast , September 27, 2011):

Where publishing is concerned, the Internet is both midwife and executioner. It has never been easier to reach large numbers of readers, but these readers have never felt more entitled to be informed and entertained for free. I have been very slow to appreciate these developments, and yet it is clear even to me that there are reasons to fear for the life of the printed book. Needless to say, many of the changes occurring in publishing are changes that neither publishers nor authors want. The market for books is continually shifting beneath our feet, and nobody knows what the business of publishing will look like a decade from now.

This is hardly news, of course, and the answer is that there will be few printed books. Or magazines. More trees. But … mor efforts to censor the Internet (“rid it of socially bad elements”). More Harris:

Journalism was the first casualty of this transformation. How can newspapers and magazines continue to make a profit? Online ads don’t generate enough revenue and paywalls are intolerable; thus, the business of journalism is in shambles. Even though I sympathize with the plight of publishers—and share it by association as a writer—as a reader, I am without pity. If your content is behind a paywall, I will get my news elsewhere. I subscribe to the print edition of The New Yorker, but when I want to read one of its articles online, I find it galling to have to login and wrestle with its proprietary e-reader. The result is that I read and reference New Yorker articles far less frequently than I otherwise would. I’ve been a subscriber for 25 years, but The New Yorker is about to lose me. What can they do? I don’t know. The truth is, I now expect their content to be free.

The way newspapers cope, at least in some parts of the Western world, is by pathetic alliances with any government that is morally capable of trying to destroy free new media. That is the reason for their general silence on many civil rights issues across the Western world around freedom of expression. When they are not actually promoting outright suppression.

How  do you think  ideas about design in nature will fare?

Fact is, blogs are the new media. Please support Uncommon Descent, if you think we speak for you, in anything that matters to you.

5 Replies to “New atheist Sam Harris has some interesting things to say about the new media

  1. 1
    kairosfocus says:

    Print on Demand down tot he single copy print-off (doable in a kiosk style machine or for a factory and shipping warehouse at the end of a DSL line). The reader, or school printing a textbook, then pays the publishing house for services rendered, not for speculating on sales levels and warehousing services.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    Juan Verde says:

    It would seem that journalism, particularly that with a liberal bent, is an evolutionary casualty. Now it will only survive as junk DNA, cluttering the system.

  4. 4
    fmarotta says:

    My problem with blogs as the new media (or anything else on the internet) is there is no guarantee what I find today will be available a year from now. Links go stale and not everything is cached. Books are much better at providing a lasting place for ideas. I am not suggesting that blogs are bad, just that they should compliment books instead of replacing them.

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    steveO says:

    Anecdotal only, but it seems that atheist authors in particular suffer financially in this regard.

    Taking Dawkins for example, one can hardly help noticing that PDFs of his books are widely available on the Internet. My theory is that some atheists are so intent on spreading the word that they make these books freely and easily available in violation of copyright.

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