The Limits of the Unlimited Web

Terrific article {nicholas carr’s “rough type” blog} about the downsides of non-physical media:

One of the advantages of embedding culture in nature, of requiring that works of reason and imagination be given physical shape, is that it imposes on artists and thinkers the rigor of form, particularly the iron constraints of a beginning and an ending, and it gives to the rest of us the aesthetic, intellectual, and psychological satisfactions of having a rounded experience, of seeing the finish line in the distance, approaching it, arriving at it. When we’re in the midst of the experience, we may not want it to end, we may dream of being launched into the deep blue air of endlessness, but the dream of endlessness is only possible, only has meaning, because of our knowledge that there is an end, even it is an arbitrary end, the film burning in the projector…

The task of reading a stack of magazines—as the article goes on to suggest—may appear daunting, but you can clearly see the beginning and the end. Progress is visualized.

On the internet, there are no bounds. We “start to feel trapped in our freedom.”

There are interesting challenges and opportunities presented by this idea, in both the approximation of physicality (i.e. how long something is), and curation. Magazines are more enticing to read not only because they have a clear end point, but because they’re carefully planned, executed, and presented.