Tuesday, 4 December 2012

In defence of digital

We’ve heard a few more cries about the dominance of digital today, with the transition of The Dandy from a print to an online publication. As always happens at times like this, voices have been raised bemoaning the fact that they will no longer be able to caress a paper copy of the comic and that readers will struggle to cherish the contents of the digital version in the same way.

People have said similar things about other publications, and we often hear it about music. It was just yesterday that I got around to watching the BBC4 documentary, ‘The Joy of the Single’, which included a string of laments for the vinyl 45 and complaints that no-one can feel the same about digital downloads.

There may be an element of truth in this for a lot of readers and music fans, but there’s a good reason that digital has taken over. It’s easier to manage, and when you get into serious listening or reading the accumulation of records, magazines or books places a serious strain on your living space. Big collections of hard copies are wonderful thing in many respects, but they’re also a pain in the arse, and it’s a lot easier to accommodate a pile of digital files.

And it’s important to point out that all that staring at and fondling of books and records is only a secondary pleasure, and should only be worth a fraction of what people get out of reading or listening. Anyone who places more value on the cover art and liner notes of a record, or the feel of a book in their hand, than what the contents do to their hearts and minds has it all wrong. You still get the sounds and words from a digital file.

Be honest, digital is taking over because we’re all acquiring a lot more stuff; and there are certain types of stuff that are a lot easier to keep when you can stick them on a computer. Stop worrying about it and enjoy.

Mark Say's collection of fiction, Perversities of Faith, is available on amazon.co.uk and amazon.com. Also check out www.marksaywriter.com.

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