Sunday, August 23, 2015

A sinking ship?

This is the cover of today's New York Times Magazine.

A few observations on this fine illustration by Andrew Rae:

It's interesting that typewriters get such a prominent role as representatives of non-digital creativity, and as the device that is apparently going to be the last to sink. Weren't they already "sunk" circa 1985? Perhaps against the artist's intent, the illustration shows that typewriters aren't dead.

There are many people who haven't thrown away their analog devices, and are combining them with the digital in creative ways. Case in point: typospherians. Maybe this point is conveyed by the writer who's surfing on a typewritten sheet, wielding her fountain pen.

The article itself ("The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn't," by Steven Johnson) presents a somewhat reassuring view of the ability of artists to support themselves in the digital age. There's some encouraging news, such as the recent growth in independent bookstores, but the author's spin strikes me as overly optimistic. A sad truth is buried in the next-to-last paragraph: "Most full-time artists barely make enough money to pay the bills."

PS: Read typecaster Patrick Wang's analysis of the fallacies in Johnson's article.