“Our first date, and it was just splendid! We had a gorgeous LEDlight dinner at McMaxim, with real cloned veal sirloin and two cans of Dom Pérignon, and even the maître looked almost perfectly human! Then he turned romantic so we went up to his place to have some VR together and – fantastic, incredible! His – you know, was the last kapton-titanium model with triple feedback in the cloud…”
Well, NO! Enough is enough! As long as so many nasty things from the past get taken over by new less outrageous technological wonders, that’s quite OK with me: not many people would regret the clattering typewriter, or the sour nasty clerk behind a dusty counter, or the catastrophic indian ink stain on an almost finished drawing, or the scratches on a vinyl record. But it takes more than just hi-tech to replace some things the humankind has enjoyed for so many centuries.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not muttering that the car has replaced the horse: today’s life would be unthinkable on horseback. Yet the horse hasn’t disappeared: you still see rangers in the parks, western movies, coaches and horse races, all of them surrounded by a nice halo of retro (and a vague aura of horse manure, still slightly better than exhaust smell :-). As a matter of fact only the most refined functions of the horse have survived, whereas the menial ones have been passed on to a machine.
Nor do I come even close to moaning that a few-milliseconds E-mail tells me exactly the same as a three-days letter – and the possible eavesdroppers go screw themselves, the day I’ll have something really private to say I’ll use a pigeon. But still I wouldn’t find particularly appropriate an e-invitation to a wedding party.
Moreover I hereby confess that I not only own an e-book reader, but also find it precious and use it regularly (after having long since neutralized its WLAN circuitry as I don’t really care for amazons peeking over my shoulder).
However that practical grayish plastic thing is just a text reader, not a book. A tablet capable of providing elegant text in countless pretty fonts, perfect pictures in full color, impeccable pagination, spelling and grammar, comes much closer to a real book – but still won’t give you the same pleasure you get when you take from the shelf an old tome, blow off a thin veil of dust, put it on the table and begin flipping through its venerable yellowed pages.
What’s missing? Hard to say. Perhaps the occasional faded notes scribbled on the margins by a long since dead hand, perhaps the faint smell of mildew and old leather, perhaps a few stains where humidity crept in decades ago, perhaps the rustle of the brittle paper under your fingers… that old tome has been around long before you were born and with a bit of luck it will still be around long after you became a name on a stone.
How do you get that from a tablet?