Posts Tagged ‘devices’

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

subtitled CONTENT vs DEVICES

I wish I knew what it was about the human condition that makes people like me pant after shiny things, wide aperture lenses and items with plugs.

Take ebooks. The Kindle is easily the market leader, but there are people who swear by Nook or Kobo, or who would only read ebooks on an iPad.

Now imagine that you had to make the decision that you would only read books printed by collotype. Or gravure. Or having a sulk because your partner prefers letterpress to litho.

It’s irrelevant. You know it is. I know it is. It’s the same with cameras. Once the short, bloody war between film and digital had been comprehensively won, the same old rivalry continued between the Nikon and Canon camps.

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

You can read Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies as a book, on a Kindle, on a Nook, on an iPad, on your Android ’phone if you will.

You can admire a Colin Macpherson photograph in print, on your laptop or on your iPhone.

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

It’s whatever you feel most comfortable with. The tools used to create and convey the work are unimportant. What matters is the mind and eye that controls that tool. It’s the brain that creates the content, whether it be Wolf Hall or an Ansel Adams print.

Some artists fall in love with their tools (OK, I could have phrased that more elegantly) like Douglas Adams, who obsessed about his Apple Macs. Others will write with whatever comes to hand (this gets worse). The creator will use whatever he or she is most comfortable with, and it should be the same for the consumer. Don’t feel pressured into abandoning printed books if that’s what you like best. I’m not going to recommend reverting to film cameras, however, because whatever happens you will have to digitise that image at some point. It may as well be born digital. But how will you bear to be reading a book on an iPad One when the 12-year-old sitting next to you on the tube is perusing an iPad Three?

The device is important of course, but the method of delivery is far less important than the actual content. It is infinitely more agreeable to get to the Frankfurt Book Fair by Rolls-Royce than by bus — but the important bit is getting to Frankfurt.

When you finish A La Recherche du Temps Perdu people aren’t going to ask you whether you read it in hardback, paperback or as an ebook, though they may ask if you read it in French or in translation. When you eat a meal, you needn’t ask the cook what oven she uses, especially if you plan on using teeth to eat with in the future. Why then do people say “Lovely photograph. What camera do you use?”

It. Doesn’t. Matter.

Everything you and I buy can be placed in one of three categories:

Consumables: e.g. Food. I eat it. I buy more. Clothes. I wear them. I wear them out.

Landfill: e.g. anything with a plug. If such a remarkable device as an iPad had existed in 1979 when I bought my Mont Blanc pen for £30, it might have cost a million pounds. Today they both cost about £500. In ten years’ time my pen will be worth about £750 and I will have thrown away my iPad. All the ebooks I bought will probably be irretrievable.

Heirlooms: e.g. my pen. I write with it. I will write with it for the next 20 years. Then I will leave it to a niece. It will always be worth more than I paid for it. And the leather bound copy of Follies will be on my bookshelf when I am cold and dry.

The memories of the marvellous books I have read and the wonderful photographs I have seen will stay with me long after the tools that produced them have been consigned to the scrap heap.