Sunday Book-Thought 72

Writing turned a spotlight on the high, dim Sierras of speech; writing was the visualization of acoustic space. It lit up the dark.
A good quill put an end to talk, abolished mystery, gave us enclosed space and towns, brought roads and armies and bureaucracies. It was the basic metaphor with which the cycle of CIVILIZATION began, the step from the dark into the light of the mind. The hand that filled a paper built a city.
The handwriting is on the celluloid walls of Hollywood; the Age of Writing has passed. We must invent a NEW METAPHOR, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between man and nature: they are nature.
The MECHANIZATION of writing mechanized the visual-acoustic metaphor on which civilization rests; it created the classroom and mass education, the modern press and telegraph. It was the original assembly-line. Gutenberg made all history available as classified data: the transportable book brought the world of the dead into the space of the gentleman’s library; the telegraph brought the entire world of the living to the workman’s breakfast table.
Marshall McLuhan (designed by Harley Parker), Counterblast (London: Rapp & Whiting, 1969), pp. 14-15.

Sunday Book-Thought 69

The most obvious epicenter of this shakeup [the digital network] is the information business. And it is particularly instructive to consider the fate of one of its most familiar architectural manifestations, the book shop. Where will we find twenty-first-century Pickwicks?
The problem with printed books, magazines, and newspapers – Gutenberg’s gotcha – is distribution. Paper documents can be mass produced rapidly at centralized locations, but they must then be warehoused, transported, stocked at retail outlets, and eventually hand carried to wherever they will be opened and read. There are built and specially equipped places for each of these activities: the publisher’s office, the printing plant, the warehouse, the bookstore, the newspaper kiosk, lounges and waiting rooms stocked with magazines, and the easy chair beside the fire. These places are distributed at appropriate locations within the urban fabric and play important roles in  differentiating that fabric and the activities unfolding within it. Harvard Square would not be the same without Out of Town News and its diverse collection of bookstores.
William J. MitchellCity of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn (Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995), pp. 49-50.