The Northern Spy: Communication and the New Renaissance
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

The Northern Spy: Communication and the New Renaissance

By Rick Sutcliffe

A very long time ago even by non-Internet standards, the Spy advised people owning stock in typewriter companies to sell. In that same era he opined "collect postage stamps young woman, for soon they won't make them any more".

To the former, anyone under thirty-five might today say "what's a typewriter?" The Spy was right. But to the latter, he was only half so. True, anyone under ten today is likely to say the same thing about stamps in just a few more years, as post offices around the world slowly go insolvent. Mind, they have no one to blame but themselves, for several reasons, not all due to the Internet. The result is there aren't many collectors after all.

First, because too many postal authorities, beginning in the former Soviet block (demise also predicted back then) debased the product by contracting with American stamp companies selling by approvals to unsuspecting children for the manufacture of "stamps" that were never intended for postage and indeed were often pre-cancelled and could not be so employed. In the case of "countries" like Maluku Seletan which never really got going or even had a post office, several dozen stamps exist, all mint, none ever having been used or having any value.

The company and the relevant government each got a cut, and the business was for a time lucrative enough to represent the major source of foreign (read "real") money for some penurious nations. The disease spread to Africa, South America, the far east, and to a lesser extent even the industrialized world. Colourful but still bad, these fake stamps overwhelmed the good, and philatelists noticed. Why, even in the sixties, the Spy called most Eastern European stamps "wallpaper".

Recently, and approaching possible retirement age--someday, maybe--he decided to take his own advice and revive his old collection--not that he hadn't been accumulating post office releases, album supplements, and shoeboxes full of stamps on paper over the years, but he hadn't "put them away". Sadly, he discovered that the proliferation of stamps with no philatelic value had accelerated.

Those who are still in the hobby often only accumulate Western Europe, Canada, and the United States, whose postal services generally avoided such mistakes, but even those countries do much of their stamp business directly to collectors. So, take a look around. Not only are there now fewer collectors and stamp companies in the mail order business these days, the number of retail stores, stamp clubs, album manufacturers, and so on, is but a tiny fraction of what it once was. Too many "stamps" talking up space in albums have never been not worth collecting.

Second, because many of those same post offices, though granted monopoly rights on Internet services early in the game, failed to understand the new business, mismanaged it, and lost it to others. To be fair, telephone and transportation companies did the same (Canadian Pacific Railway telecommunications division being the canonical example). This is a classic case of established business entities (as a class) failing to "get" change, and being unable to discern a new box inside which to think. It happens all the time in technology--except at Apple, where the "think different" campaign may have been intended as much to define the culture among their own employees than aimed at mindmolding the general public.

Third, because at the same time as the old snail mail business was slipping away to bits and bytes, post offices around the world also failed to devise new tasks and new lines of business for their employees to keep working. Junk mail (flyer distribution) could have worked, but in Canada at least, it can be handled more efficiently at lower cost by targeted contractors than by a large delivery service like the post office. So, soon there will be little or nothing left, even the ephemeral memories evoked by postage stamps will be forgotten.

The Spy will keep his collection, maintain Canada and possibly the United States pages, and put away what else comes his way, but as stamps will mean little to the new generation, they are increasingly unlikely to become collectors in the first place, and the little pieces of paper will gradually have no collectible value to anyone. Bad stamps and better technology drove out the industry, hobby and all.

The parable can be applied to print whose technology of the sixties is unrecognizable today, and which industry is in an equally steep decline.

For instance, back in the day, magazine stories were typed in the editorial office, set in lead type slugs on a linotype machine (look it up--a monster of a Rube Goldberg contraption whose brass "fonts" massed about fifty kilograms and took several minutes to hoist out and change) and proof galleys were run off on a letterpress. These, along with graphical elements, were pasted up in four-up (or more) fashion, and photographed at full size. The enormous negative was touched up to remove imperfections, then "burned" to an aluminum plate (one per colour) and this was mounted on an offset press to print the magazine pages (books too).

Newspapers were done a different way, on large roll-fed presses.) The sheets were folded, assembled and stitched or stapled into the finished product, then cut to size to release pages from the top folds, covered (where appropriate) and sent out for sale or in the mails.

As an aside, the old lead slugs were recycled by melting them down and casting them into new ingots for the Linotype machine. Those fond of social analogies should note that in a real melting pot, it is the sludge that rises to the top. The Spy, besides running a press, folder, binder, and cutting machine, and helping to change font cases on the lino, used to skim it off and discard it.

Even in shops that still do printing, most of this technology would be little more than a vague rumour to graphics arts specialists today, who compose everything on a computer and send it directly to the press.

But surely this too is obsolete. Smaller screens today have a better print resolution than print, and larger ones are gaining the same capabilities. There is no reason beyond the inertia of the traditional, the resistance of copyright holders, and (so far) the inability of software producers to generate something as good as or better than the turn-the-page reading experience -- particularly for textbooks.

As the Spy has noted here several times, the advent of an acceptable (even if not great) electronic textbook reader software will wipe out the entire hopelessly broken paper textbook industry almost overnight. The first to achieve a better paradigm in electronic textbooks will own the industry. Publishers may still buy rights, edit, and market, but they won't print, or distribute to the long chain of middlemen that today keep prices at ridiculous levels for the end user. It will be nice when my students can walk into the university bookstore and put down, say, fifty bucks to get downloads of the whole semester's texts, instead of forking over a grand for a fifty kilos of dead tree versions. It can't come any time soon.

Make no mistake, though. Generating a smooth, cool reader experience even for novels is not easy. For technical material where there's much page turning back and forth, the difficulties are daunting. But the prize is worth it for the boys and girls who labour along the secret hallways at One Infinite Loop.

But it can also be applied to the current generation of computers
which no more represent the maturity of such technology than the original Apple computer did (make your own current loop interface to a Teletype, store programs on punch paper tape, and later on magnetic cassettes, program in Integer BASIC and assembler, no lower case letters, hi-res screens eighty columns of text only, and total -- not the useable -- memory even on the Apple ][ series maxed out at 16K.)

The Spy still wanst his PIEA (Personal Intelligence Enhancement Appliance--think an iPad with a neural interface and everywhere connectivity) and/or my foldable, rollable MT (Metalibrary Terminal) that is, on a single sheet of durable plasti-paper, a combination better-than-retina screen, touch type and voice input device, and distributed, networked computer--all described by him decades ago.

Between the two, and depending on the size, you experience (sight, hearing, smell, etc) newspapers, magazines, fiction and non-fiction books, display digitized art on your walls (rented from the owner), watch sporting events, attend concerts and plays, communicate, contribute to metaperson composition of new creative works (for microshare royalties), handle all aspects of finances, and telecommute to work (as needed). Gone (and as forgotten as the typewriter) will be telephone, standalone computer, monitors, print anything (including money), and television.

Hey -- it's all been in the Spy's novels for years, but we're only partway there. It's all about how we communicate information, and time for Apple and others to pick up the pace beyond the epsilons and deltas of incremental upgrades and move along to the next generation.

Oh, and one more thing -- that hasn't become obsoleteURLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Arjay Enterprises:

The Northern Spy Home Page: http://www.TheNorthernSpy.com
opundo : http://opundo.com
Sheaves Christian Resources : http://sheaves.org
WebNameHost : http://www.WebNameHost.net
WebNameSource : http://www.WebNameSource.net
nameman : http://nameman.net

General URLs for Rick Sutcliffe's Books:
Author Site: http://www.arjay.ca
Publisher's Site: http://www.writers-exchange.com/Richard-Sutcliffe.html

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

TextSoap 8.4.1 - Automate tedious text d...
TextSoap can automatically remove unwanted characters, fix up messed up carriage returns, and do pretty much anything else that we can think of to text. Save time and effort. Be more productive. Stop... Read more
Backblaze 4.3.0.44 - Online backup servi...
Backblaze is an online backup service designed from the ground-up for the Mac. With unlimited storage available for $5 per month, as well as a free 15-day trial, peace of mind is within reach with... Read more
Numi 3.15 - Menu-bar calculator supports...
Numi is a calculator that magically combines calculations with text, and allows you to freely share your computations. Numi combines text editor and calculator Support plain English. For example, '5... Read more
EtreCheck 3.3.3 - For troubleshooting yo...
EtreCheck is an app that displays the important details of your system configuration and allow you to copy that information to the Clipboard. It is meant to be used with Apple Support Communities to... Read more
BusyContacts 1.1.8 - Fast, efficient con...
BusyContacts is a contact manager for OS X that makes creating, finding, and managing contacts faster and more efficient. It brings to contact management the same power, flexibility, and sharing... Read more
TunnelBear 3.0.14 - Subscription-based p...
TunnelBear is a subscription-based virtual private network (VPN) service and companion app, enabling you to browse the internet privately and securely. Features Browse privately - Secure your data... Read more
Apple Final Cut Pro X 10.3.4 - Professio...
Apple Final Cut Pro X is a professional video editing solution.Completely redesigned from the ground up, Final Cut Pro adds extraordinary speed, quality, and flexibility to every part of the post-... Read more
Hopper Disassembler 4.2.1- - Binary disa...
Hopper Disassembler is a binary disassembler, decompiler, and debugger for 32-bit and 64-bit executables. It will let you disassemble any binary you want, and provide you all the information about... Read more
Slack 2.6.2 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.6.2: Fixed Inexplicably, context menus and spell-check... Read more
Arq 5.8.5 - Online backup to Google Driv...
Arq is super-easy online backup for Mac and Windows computers. Back up to your own cloud account (Amazon Cloud Drive, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Cloud Storage, any S3-compatible server... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

The best new games we played this week
We were quite busy this week. A bunch of big mobile games launched over the past few days, alongside a few teeny surprises. There're lots of quality games to load your phone with. We've gone and picked out five of our favorites for the week. [... | Read more »
Magikarp Jump beginner's guide
Magikarp Jump is a mystifying little game. Part Tamagotchi, part idle clicker, there's not a whole lot of video game there, per se, but for some reason we can't help coming back to it again and again. Your goal is to train up a little Magikarp to... | Read more »
Goat Simulator PAYDAY (Games)
Goat Simulator PAYDAY 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** IMPORTANT - SUPPORTED DEVICES **iPhone 4S, iPad 2, iPod Touch 5 or better Goat Simulator: Payday is the most... | Read more »
GRID Autosport delayed until autumn
Sorry mobile racing fans -- GRID Autosport has been delayed a few months. The game is now expected to launch this fall on iOS. Feral Interactive announced that they wanted more time to work on the game's UI and overall performance before launching... | Read more »
Zombie Gunship Survival Beginner's...
The much anticipated Zombie Gunship Survival is here. In this latest entry in the Zombie Gunship franchise, you're tasked with supporting ground troops and protecting your base from the zombie horde. There's a lot of rich base building fun, and... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish (Games)
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish 1.2.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.2.2 (iTunes) Description: Explore the ruins of the City of Mordheim, clash with other scavenging warbands and collect Wyrdstone -... | Read more »
Mordheim: Warband Skirmish brings tablet...
Legendary Games has just launched Mordheim: Warband Skirmish, a new turn-based action game for iOS and Android. | Read more »
Magikarp Jump splashes onto Android worl...
If you're tired ofPokémon GObut still want something to satisfy your mobilePokémon fix,Magikarp Jumpmay just do the trick. It's out now on Android devices the world over. While it looks like a simple arcade jumper, there's quite a bit more to it... | Read more »
Purrfectly charming open-world RPG Cat Q...
Cat Quest, an expansive open-world RPG from former Koei-Tecmo developers, got a new gameplay trailer today. The video showcases the combat and exploration features of this feline-themed RPG. Cat puns abound as you travel across a large map in a... | Read more »
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels (Games)
Jaipur: A Card Game of Duels 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** WARNING: iPad 2, iPad Mini 1 & iPhone 4S are NOT compatible. ** *** Special Launch Price for a limited... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Memorial Day savings: 13-inch Touch Bar MacBo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 Apple 13″ Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 13″ 2.9GHz/512GB... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch MacBook Airs availa...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $849. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB MacBook Air: $... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 11-inch MacBook Ai...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 11″ MacBook Airs (the latest models recently discontinued by Apple), available for up to $170 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each... Read more
12-inch 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up...
B&H has 12″ 1.2GHz Retina MacBooks on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: - 12″ 1.2GHz Space Gray Retina MacBook: $1449.99 $150 off... Read more
15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro o...
MacMall has the 15-inch 2.7GHz Silver Touch Bar MacBook Pro (MLW82LL/A) on sale for $2569 as part of their Memorial Day sale. Shipping is free. Their price is $230 off MSRP. Read more
Free Tread Wisely Mobile App Endorsed By Fath...
Just in time for the summer driving season, Cooper Tire & Rubber Company has announced the launch of a new Tread Wisely mobile app. Designed to promote tire and vehicle safety among teens and... Read more
Commercial Notebooks And Detachable Tablets W...
Worldwide shipments of personal computing devices (PCDs), comprised of traditional PCs (a combination of desktop, notebook, and workstations) and tablets (slates and detachables), are forecast to... Read more
Best value this Memorial Day weekend: Touch B...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2016 15″ and 13″ MacBook Pros available for $230 to $420 off original MSRP. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 15″ 2.6GHz... Read more
13-inch MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 o...
Overstock.com has 13″ MacBook Airs on sale for up to $130 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 1.6GHz/128GB MacBook Air (sku MMGF2LL/A): $869.99 $130 off MSRP - 13″ 1.6GHz/256GB MacBook Air (sku... Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973 with free...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $973, $16 off MSRP, including a free copy of Apple’s 3-Year AppleCare Protection Plan. Shipping is free, and Adorama charges sales tax in NY & NJ... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
Best Buy *Apple* Computing Master - Best Bu...
**509643BR** **Job Title:** Best Buy Apple Computing Master **Location Number:** 001482- Apple Valley-Store **Job Description:** **What does a Best Buy Apple Read more
*Apple* Media Products - Commerce Engineerin...
Apple Media Products - Commerce Engineering Manager Job Number: 57037480 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: Apr. 18, 2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 Job Read more
*Apple* Mac and Mobility Engineer - Infogrou...
Title: Apple Mac and Mobility Engineer Location: Portland, OR Area Type: 12 month contract Job: 17412 Here's a chance to take your skills to the limit, learn new Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions, White P...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.