Why do we look at books today with “rules” assigned to them? Mrazaukas surmises that because books came up during the industrial revolution we assign them industrial standards. However, now that “we see post-industrial spaces being transformed into something useless in industrial terms, into creative spaces,” perhaps we should think about the book that way as well. For example, the Highline in New York is a public, creative space, of which you can’t measure the value. Just like these spaces, books should be an experience for people.
He mentioned that socially he now introduces himself with a book. Instead of explaining that he’s a “self-taught book designer” he asks “Can I show you something? And then the magic starts.”
He theorized that the cycle of technology from analog to digital technology isn’t really new, but the internet/digital information is just a continuation of the jump that happened from the industrialized (or institutionalized) Gutenberg process to the more democratic Linotype printing which evolved the publishing world.
Although, initially resistant to ebooks, Mrazaukas began to see their value when it was easier to work with than a 600 page manual. However, he pointed out the irony of how we use symbols like a printed book for icons (same as using an archaic floppy disk as a save icon). “We don’t wait for ourselves to adapt, we just go on, ” he said. (He did point out the FontBook icon evolving from a book to a compass as an example of “getting it” in this regard.)He also pointed out that analog isn’t even really analog anymore, with printers becoming completely digital (although publishers sticking to industrial standards). And since most everything will eventually go into public domain and be digitalized, there really is not a black and white.
Digitalization can be a good thing though, as its reduced cost can increase access and education. Once educated, individuals will be empowered to buy the physical book.
He ended his talk proposing that books, like experimental film, music and dance, shouldn’t be tied to the limits of telling a story.
“Why should it [the book] be useful? Why should it not be something that plays with your mind?”
Text: Meghan Arnold