A really fascinating article from the Wired website piqued my attention last night. It was about text.
Momus, as he calls himself, complains about the text-oriented nature of the Internet, how we’ve all “become typing trolls. We’re all disagreeing, but we’re ‘on the same page’ (and it is a page, a white rectangle covered with a tangle of text).” Apparently the text-based nature of the Internet has left out “huge areas of what makes us human.”
This idea gave me pause. I considered my experiences with text. I considered Shakespeare, which I’ve only read as text and never seen performed. I wondered if William’s soul was absent from his writings. I considered Jack London. I considered Hemmingway. I considered Chaucer. I pondered the soullessness of their writings.
I concluded that Momus is full of it. Yes, text can be soulless. It can be devoid of life and personality. It can, as the article noted, neglect texture. But just because it can doesn’t mean it must. In the hands of a good writer, text has as much soul and life as music, or art, or theatre. In the hands of the talentless, it may be as Momus notes.
His solution is to get rid of the textual shackles that bind the Internet, fill it with sight and sound and smell and feel. Make it more immersive. I don’t know about anyone else, but if I want sight and smell and touch and feel, I’ll close my Powerbook and go outside.