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No Screen Can Ever Replace Print

By Luis Quintanilla 

From the static hissing one hears when placing a new record on the record player to the now instantaneous playback given by simply tapping the shuffle button on one’s phone. From shelves filled with a collection of books, each of their spines vying for room, to now a nearly a limitless supply of books held within the black box in one’s pockets. From daily newspapers stacked on top each other on street corners, their bold headlines of global events drawing passerbys’ eyes as they walk on by, to nearly all of the world’s current events summed up on the front pages of social media. 

The world is more connected and  moving faster than ever before. In an unprecedented era of human history, nearly 8 billion people are connected through a global network of communication and can access any information they need or want to know within minutes, thanks in part to the internet and the digital age. Without going into a history lesson, this kind of connectivity and access to information has never quite been seen before. Up until 500 years ago, millions of people were unaware that two continents filled with their own civilizations laid beyond the western horizon of the Atlantic Ocean. Even in the European world prior to inventions like the printing press, information between other countries and even local people was not as instantaneous or encompassing as the norm has become today, messages often traveling long distances and taking days to reach the recipient. 

As humans, it is essential to us that we communicate. Again, avoiding a history lesson, this can be seen as far back as nearly 50,000 years ago in some of the earliest cave drawings according to Ancient History Encyclopedia, but that is going beyond the topic. Point being, even in these simple drawings depicting everyday concepts, humans find it necessary to communicate ideas, knowledge, news, needs, culture, among other things to aid us to better understand our world and the events and people surrounding it. 

From ancient divinations written on Chinese oracle bones to the first American newspaper published, Publick Occurrences, for thousands of years humans have been trying to find better ways to communicate. Humans were able to tap into mass communication once invention such as the Gutenberg press arose in the 15th century. This opened the door for the masses to receive information on a grand scale. This eventually evolved into newspapers and books, to radio, to tv just 80 years ago, to finally one ends up in the information age, the era the world finds itself in now. 

The information age is marked by the sophistication and increase of technology and the subsequent digitalization this has had on today’s society. Now one does not have to wait a week or even a day to receive news of events occuring on the other side of globe, anyone can simply open Twitter and know the U.S. has just killed an Iranian military official within minutes of it happening. Letters to long lost friends across the country or globe have been replaced with the sound of a sent message reading “Delivered” within seconds. 

This kind of connectivity and access the information is revolutionary, as one can connect with nearly any human in any corner of the globe instantaneously, and teach him or herself the theory of relativity somewhat proficiently by a simple Google search. However, in doing so the world should not let age old communications die out. 

In the evolving world, all media has adapted in some way. Radios now stream, TV now can be streamed on one’s phone, and even magazines such as Nat Geo post snippets of stories on Instagram, but mediums such as newspaper have felt the blow of this digitized world. Of course many newspapers stand strong to this day: US Today, The New York Times, and even local papers such as the Tennessean. However, these are big newspapers, capable of holding their own in this revolutionized world, many of them doing just fine running their news online as well.

 But for the most part, not many people take time to reach down and grab a newspaper off the stands on street corners or in store. Whatever news or information they need, they know they will find it on the TV later that night, or within minutes of checking their phone. 

The world seems keen to dive into this digital age, and there’s no stopping that accelerating train. No one can argue with its convenience and utility. Thousands of songs can be held and shuffled instantaneously on one’s phone. Reading books no longer requires flipping through cream colored pages, but instead just the swipe of a finger from side of the screen to the next. But age old mediums such as print  should not be forgotten and left as relics. For as long as humans have been around, the physical representation and embodiment of our ideas, knowledge, and culture have been written down, able for us to feel in our hands and pass onto others. It’s is seemingly in our bones to want to do so, and no amount of pixels on a screen or information up in the cloud can ever replace that.


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