Posts tagged ‘Antonio Sinibaldi’

April 16, 2012

In Praise of Transitional Technology

I got a Kindle. When this happened, some of my friends raised their eyebrows. They like books, and they know I like books, so why would I add nails to that coffin. Of course, as I am fond of pointing out here (and anywhere), this is both equivocation and unnecessary panic. Books are doing fine in their hard format. Also, and more importantly here, books will still exist, they will just be in a different format. Conceivably, they will be in digital, e-book form.
Before any such complete switch happens, however, methinks the book will have had its revenge on the Kindle. Even if the Kindle turns out to be a soldier in the destruction of the book citadel, it is itself unlikely to be the one standing on the top of the hill victoriously waving a flag. Why? Because, despite what my friend, Miloš Luković wrote here about the elegance of single-function devices (and the Kindle is largely one such), they tend to get incorporated into more complicated digital devices. The iPod lasted a generation or two as a music device only, before it added video, and then with the iPhone transforming completely. Most phones have a music playing function, and nearly all of them have a camera. And the Kindle has its single-function up against the tablet’s complete set of computer functions. Tablets are probably now to lap tops what lap tops were to desktops fifteen years ago. Give the tablet a few more years and it might become the standard computer device for a person or household. Won’t the tablet incorporate the Kindle function?
Perhaps. Around the same time the transience of the Kindle occurred to me, I read that the e-mail attachment turned twenty. The Guardian had an article talking about the man who invented it, Nathaniel Borenstein, how it came about, and where it is today. Now that we have the cloud and social media, how much will the attachment be used? Mr. Borenstein himself makes a decent case that the attachment is still quite useful, but who’s to say that it will not go the way of the PalmPilot?
Which raises another interesting question. How many examples of transitional technology have existed in (let’s say) the last one hundred years (technology-obsessed as they have been)? Music is here the obvious example. Although the radio was not killed by TV, the victrola and the cassette deck are pretty much gone, and the CD is on its way out. Typewriters are another example. In a combination of the two, and a great piece of transitional technology, I found these images over at Colt + Rane.


I have one more before I leave you without having said anything. I have no idea how scientific or true this is, but

It appears from this that WordPress is still climbing, but for how much longer? Word? Press? In a digital world of images? It just can’t last. Enjoy it while you can.

Post Scriptum
If you follow the above link to the Guardian article about the e-mail attachment, you may notice that the photo of Nathaniel Borenstein was taken, no doubt digitally, and e-mailed to the editor as an attachment, by a Christian Sinibaldi. Where have I heard that last name, Sinibaldi? Ah yes, Antonio Sinibaldi, about whom I wrote this last year: “Antonio Sinibaldi, scribe to the Medicis, who had “an elegant, gracile hand,” was the first major scribe to be put out of work by the Gutenberg machine in 1480.” I wonder if they’re related.

Post Scriptorum
Since it is now the way of the world (or will soon be), I have a tumblr.

March 25, 2011


In a wonderful article on handwriting through the ages (“from scriptorium to LongPen™”) over at triplecanopy, Joshua Cohen tells us that Antonio Sinibaldi, scribe to the Medicis, who had “an elegant, gracile hand,” was the first major scribe to be put out of work by the Gutenberg machine in 1480.

Antonio Sinibaldi's handwriting

The scribes understood that it wasn’t just their jobs that were on the line – the whole world was changing for them. More from Cohen.
In 1492, Johannes Trithemius, Abbot of Sponheim, wrote De Laude Scriptorum, “In Praise of Scribes,” a polemic addressed to Gerlach, Abbot of Deutz. Trithemius’s intention was to uphold scribal preeminence while denouncing the temptations of the emerging press: “The printed book is made of paper and, like paper, will quickly disappear. But the scribe working with parchment ensures lasting remembrance for himself and for his text.” Trithemius asserted that movable type was no substitute for solitary transcription, as the discipline of copying was a much better guarantor of religious sensibility than the mundane acts of printing and reading. As evidence he offers the account of a Benedictine copyist, famed for his pious perspicuity, who had died, was buried by his brethren, then subsequently (though inexplicably) exhumed. According to Trithemius, the copyist’s corpus had decomposed but for three fingers of his composing hand: his right thumb, forefinger, and middle finger—relics, like manuscripture itself, of literary diligence.

The article talks about everything from the oldest complete Bible to computers, via Shakespare, Melville, Nietzsche, Kafka…brilliant!