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@Carolyn Ann - can I just say how much I enjoy your writing? I love the metaphor in the beginning of your first comment. I think - and I might presume here - that Mr Karp meant print news, not art/literature. I, too grew up loving (even when I hated translating them from Greek and Latin) the classics. I'm thinking the beauty is inherent, it's inside the people who do make the connections and further projects and their own learning... at least that has been the evolution for me. But I do have the benefit of a top shelf education in the classics to begin with, so it's hard for me to assess this objectively. I do think and strongly believe that the people who use the Internet are active. They are in my stream and in my email. Think about it - we would have probably hardly crossed paths had it not been for this blog. That is huge.

@Joe - most of what I do online is exploration, so I do identify with the distinction as presented by Karp.

@Carolyn Ann - the work of a writer that does not sell in print gets pulled, too. It just doesn't get published or reprinted. Online, there is a permanent record cached somewhere, even though the author might delete the page or comment on their site. Permanence is n the minds and hearts of those who connect with something, not so much in the medium in which they are presented. That, I know, is just one piece of the conversation.

My metaphor flunked! :-)

Clearly, I wasn't very clear [sorry...] about my point. :-)

The web is ephemeral, print has a permanence. Sure, both can be destroyed, but in general print has the upper hand in presenting to us ideas that go beyond the simplistic. It's the difference between skimming, and contemplating. Currently, the web offers so little that can be contemplated, compared to print.

As the electronic readers, like that little box I saw someone on a Manhattan bus using, become ubiquitous, this will change. But the biggest problem I see all this is demonstrated ably by Wikipedia: the need for the information to be absolutely contemporary. Changes to the metaphorical and virtual record reflect current thinking; there's no permanence. The original writer is subsumed to the audience. Who, in turn, demand compliance to their attitudes. It's much harder to demand that in print!

I read a lot of books, some of them good, many of them instantly forgettable. I tend not to turn to the web for literature!

I don't know. Perhaps I'm just being a Luddite, and worrying about something I can't do anything about. Permanence of thought, of words, is a tenuous idea, anyway. It's just that the temptation to tweak something, over time, may be too much for some writers. I've seen this in the blogosphere; a writer will remove their work from public view, or change entire phrases of past posts to reflect either new thinking, or (as I discovered, once) to change a readers' perception of the writer. The original wording reflected badly upon the writer, the new wording reflected badly upon the person they were "debating" (me); indeed in one post, anything about the entire argument was summarily removed! When it's so easy to change what is written, how can we trust what we are reading? The implications are staggering - how do you get "Leaves of Grass", in such an pro tem environment?

Carolyn Ann

Online is most assuredly about exploration (though I do snack here and there thanks to Twitter...)

Print offers me the chance to skim from page to page, but not outlet to outlet, unless I have a thick stack of material sitting next to me.

By the way Carolyn Ann, I don't think arguing about trees vs. coal is a fair fight.

Alternative fuel sources like wind and solar (although not widespread yet) exist to reduce the damage wrought on the planet by our web surfing.

Print needs trees day in/day out no matter what.

Great article, I'm sure it will inspire plenty of constructive debate!

Joe Mescher
Social Media Commando
www.Twitter.com/JoeMescher

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