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Culture & Religion

A Computer Scientist Praises Print

David Gelernter is not a man known for conventional thinking, so perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Yale computer science professor—whose digital-world achievements include the development of the Linda coordination language—mounts such a stirring defense of print media in an interview this week.

“Abolishing the book is like abolishing the symphony,” Gelernter argues, noting that the format is a small wonder of design and has been integral to some of humanity’s most cherished intellectual achievements. On the one hand, he believes “people are too smart to allow it” to disappear altogether. On the other hand, he observes that his Yale students become “less and less able to express themselves in writing” with each passing year, and believes a failure to reverse that trend will make print media wither into irrelevance.

Gelernter doesn’t just talk old media, of course; he also explains the concept of “lifestreaming,” which he helped define in the 1990s, and how it is increasingly coming to fruition around the digital universe. The interview was conducted in partnership with the DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in Munich.


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