Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Written Words *Not* Equal :: Electronic versus Print

Web words and print words may *look* the same (or at least very nearly the same), but given the electronic version's penchant for code and abbreviation, and no-accountability self-publishing, they are worlds apart. And that's just fine, as long as you don't abandon one in favor of the other.

Whenever there's an article about electronic/digital media usurping print media, the usual premise is that they are interchangeable in all but format. This is faulty thinking :: They are two separate media performing entirely separate functions, each valid and useful, and should be used appropriately. The written word is not an either-or proposition.

(You could state that a 20-year-old 'humpty' (jalopy, beater) and this year's hot sports car are both vehicles and therefore the same, but you'll likely not find anyone who thinks they are interchangeable. So, too, with the written word, be it web site or text book.)

For accuracy, consult print -- the content usually begins with an actual authority on the subject, then undergoes rigorous fact-checking and editing. Even then, errors occur, but usually less frequently than on the free-for-all web, where anyone with internet access can spout off unfettered.

Use each media as needed :: For quick access to massive amounts of information, by all means go online; For in-depth enjoyment and appreciation of the richness of the English language, get a good book, and preferably one authored by a master. Like Charles Montgomery, a young Canadian writer (grandson of Field Marshall Montgomery; great-grandson of Henry Montgomery, Bishop of Tasmania) who follows roughly in the path of his archbishop ancestor and recounts his journey through Melanesia in The Last Heathen. I've just read it for the second time, and I know I shall read it again.

If you've been doing all your reading online, then do yourself a favor and savour the beauty of the written language produced by a master.