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

FontExplorer X Pro 5.0.1 - Font manageme...
FontExplorer X Pro is optimized for professional use; it's the solution that gives you the power you need to manage all your fonts. Now you can more easily manage, activate and organize your... Read more
Calcbot 1.0.2 - Intelligent calculator a...
Calcbot is an intelligent calculator and unit converter for the rest of us. Featuring an easy-to-read history tape, expression view, intuitive conversion, and much more! Features History Tape -... Read more
MTR 5.0.0.1 - The Mac's oldest and...
MTR (was MacTheRipper)--the Mac's oldest and smartest DVD-backup app--is now updated to version 5.001 MTR -- the complete toolbox, not a one-trick, point-and-click extractor. MTR is intended for... Read more
LibreOffice 4.4.5.2 - Free, open-source...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
Adobe Lightroom 6.1.1 - Import, develop,...
Adobe Lightroom is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $9.99/month bundled with Photoshop CC as part of the photography package. Lightroom 6 is also available for purchase as a... Read more
File Juicer 4.41 - Extract images, video...
File Juicer is a drag-and-drop can opener and data archaeologist. Its specialty is to find and extract images, video, audio, or text from files which are hard to open in other ways. It finds and... Read more
A Better Finder Rename 9.52 - File, phot...
A Better Finder Rename is the most complete renaming solution available on the market today. That's why, since 1996, tens of thousands of hobbyists, professionals and businesses depend on A Better... Read more
OmniFocus 2.2.3 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
TinkerTool 5.4 - Expanded preference set...
TinkerTool is an application that gives you access to additional preference settings Apple has built into Mac OS X. This allows to activate hidden features in the operating system and in some of the... Read more
Tinderbox 6.3.1 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more

Gallery Doctor (Photography)
Gallery Doctor 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Free up valuable iCloud and iPhone storage with Gallery Doctor, the only iPhone cleaner that automatically identifies the... | Read more »
You Against Me (Games)
You Against Me 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: A simple game… You. Me. Claim, steal, lock, score, win! | Read more »
Yep, it's True - Angry Birds 2 is O...
The not exactly rumors were true and the birds are back. Angry Birds 2 has come to the App Store and the world will... well I suppose it'll still be the same, but now we have more bird-flinging options! [Read more] | Read more »
You Could Design Your Own Card for Chain...
If you've ever wanted to create your own item, weapon, trap, or even monster for Chainsaw Warrior: Lords of the Night, this is your chance. Auroch Digital is currently holding a contest so that fans can fight to the death (not really) to see which... | Read more »
Bitcoin Billionaire is Going Back in Tim...
If you thought you managed to buy everything there is to buy in Bitcoin Billionaire and make all the money, well you though wrong. Those of you who made it far enough might remember investing in time travel - and it looks like that investment is... | Read more »
Domino Drop (Games)
Domino Drop 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Domino Drop is a delightful new puzzle game with dominos and gravity!Learn how to play it in a minute, master it day by day.Your... | Read more »
OPERATION DRACULA (Games)
OPERATION DRACULA 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $5.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: 25% off launch sale!!! 'Could prove to be one of the most accurate representations of the Japanese bullet hell shmup... | Read more »
Race The Sun (Games)
Race The Sun 1.01 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: You are a solar craft. The sun is your death timer. Hurtle towards the sunset at breakneck speed in a futile race against time.... | Read more »
Tap Delay (Music)
Tap Delay 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Back in the “old days”, producers and engineers created delay and echo effects using tape machines. Tap Delay combines the warm... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: July 20-24, 2015
July is Heating Up With 148Apps How do you know what apps are worth your time and money? Just look to the review team at 148Apps. We sort through the chaos and find the apps you're looking for. The ones we love become Editor’s Choice, standing out... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple’s Education discount saves up to $300 o...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
12-inch MacBooks in stock for $20 off, save o...
Adorama has 12″ Retina MacBooks in stock for $20 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only. For a limited time, Adorama will include a free Apple USB-C to USB Adapter, free 4-... Read more
College Student Deals: Additional $100 off Ma...
Take an additional $100 off all MacBooks and iMacs at Best Buy Online with their College Students Deals Savings, valid through August 8, 2015. Anyone with a valid .EDU email address can take... Read more
2015 13-inch 2.7GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sal...
B&H Photo has the new 2015 13″ 2.7GHz/128GB Retina MacBook Pro on sale today for $1199 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, includes...
Adorama has the 2.8GHz Mac mini available for $988, $11 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
Updated Mac Price Trackers
We’ve updated our Mac Price Trackers with the latest information on prices, bundles, and availability on systems from Apple’s authorized internet/catalog resellers: - 15″ MacBook Pros - 13″ MacBook... Read more
High-Precision Battery Fuel Gauge IC Extends...
Renesas Electronics Corporation has announced its new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery fuel gauge IC, the RAJ240500, designed to extend battery life for connected mobile devices such as tablets, notebook... Read more
27-inch 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799, $20...
B&H Photo has the 27″ 3.3GHz 5K iMac on sale for $1799 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $200 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any Apple... Read more
Twelve South Free Dual Screen Backgrounds Co...
Twelve South has posted a second collection of travel Desktop photos, noting: For the Twelve South team, a vacation is never just a vacation. It’s a time to try out new prototypes on the road, visit... Read more
Apple Refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $380 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac – $1949 $... Read more

Jobs Board

Engineering Manager, Search Relevance, *Appl...
**Job Summary** Apple 's new Spotlight Suggestions service provides fast, relevant search results from the Inte et in Spotlight and Safari on iOS and OS X. We are looking Read more
Lead Infrastructure Engineer - *Apple* /Mac P...
…of a team * Requires proven problem solving skills Preferred Additional: * Apple Certified System Administrator (ACSA) * Apple Certified Technical Coordinator (ACTC) Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales. Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales. Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.