Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Glimpse Into The The Future For Your Book

How Will Authors Battle A Language Of Irrelevancy?

Language is changing every day. We are using words today that did not exist a year ago, a decade ago, or a century ago. The process is accelerating as an outgrowth of our emerging global society, and the ever expanding world of technology. Soon, the books we write today may be unreadable to future generations. What we write today could be extinct before we even die.

Look at the references, metaphors, and analogies that we tend to provide. They reference the Internet, entertainment, sports, and technology. Prior generations referenced the military, political unrest, and mass production. Prior to that, the main reference was Biblical, or about nature and the environment, or the cycles of birth and death. Life is changing quickly, as are our books.

It’s only logical that people write about what they know, experience, feel, and think. But the pace of life has stepped up and the flow of change is faster than ever. However else that rapid change impacts our lives or the state of society, it clearly is the game-changer when it comes to what authors write about, how they write about it, and how readers interpret or come to understand and appreciate what has been written.

I’m concerned that by the end of this century, humans will have a tough time reading the books of today without some type of decoder.

The English language is already under threat by many forces and influences. Ebonics, Spanglish, and terms from other fields such as business and sports are transforming what we communicate to one another. The ever-expanding list of pop cultural references and the ever new terms coined by technology and social media are diluting the core of our language.

Nearly 7,000 languages are still spoken worldwide yet about half are endangered, as no more than 3,000 people speak any of each of those languages.

The English language is likely to live on for a long time because it is spoken and taught all over the world but the basis for that is the fact the US is an economic and military powerhouse. Should the US fall far behind other countries, especially China or India, our language will shrink in usage and it will be denigrated by an infusion if foreign words that will come about from globalization.

According to Ethnologue: 17th edition, English is the third most common language, trailing Chinese by far and Spanish by a much narrower amount. My concern, for our lifetime, is not that English will disappear but the version of English that had existed pre-Internet will become so bastardized that modern-day texts will be I recognizable by the 22nd century.

You may not notice it year to year, the way new terms sprout up, new uses of old ones come about, and how we slowly but surely transmit stories, ideas, and concepts that will not be understandable unless placed in a context. Our books will seem more foreign to people of 2097 than old English texts from 1297 seem to us now.

We constantly reference mass media – various celebrities, TV shows, blogs, and bits of information that will become meaningless down the road. To talk about Googling someone or Tweeting a video link seems so relevant today. Tomorrow it will seem like we’re talking in Chinese.

Medicine may keep us around longer. Science will sustain our planet. Technology will continually change how we do something. No one wants to negate the advances of society, but these massive changes that occur continuously will eventually erase any understanding of today’s primitive world.

Why is the current era so radically different from the future-to-be? Because tech spawns tech. We’ve gone from making a better widget to not needing the widget. Or we change it so much and so often that it is not recognizable. If a typewriter has turned into a computer, and a phone into the Internet, we’ll see wholesale changes across every aspect of life. Our books reflect the world we live in. If the world changes, so do books, both in content, words, and format.

Think of the parallel course that we are being taken on. If objects change shape, size, function, etc. – so do words, and the contents of our books change in proportion to society’s technological revolution.

Soon will come the game-changers – events, discoveries, or people that force our understanding and approach to life to radically be altered.

We live in a throw-away world. Our books and ideas are just as easily disposable. And it’s happening right now. Even as we document life with huge amounts of data, social media, books, and recording devices, our world of today won’t be understood, remembered, or even acknowledged some time in the not so distant future.

What is the he lifecycle of
·         Ideas?
·         Things?
·         Events?
·         Issues?
·         Concepts?
·         Inventions?
·         Words?
·         Values?

Will we be able to accurately understand and put into context what 2014 life is?

Will we be able to value or appreciate what we transcribe or translate?

Soon there will be:
·         More changes in our world and language
·         The speed of change will increase, menaing things will change even faster
·         There will be a continual evolution  of change while there will always be periods of revolutionary change
·         Vast population increases and demographic changes – altering our needs, ideas, and words

The future is more than mere shoe styles changing. People may not wear shoes or have feet. Or the shoe will be turned into mind bionics on steroids. Form, function, purpose – even existence – will be challenged and radically altered. The question is: How fast will these things happen? How fast will language expand to keep up with new products, events, and schools of thought? How fast will humans change – size, age, ability, view? Will we hybridize into some other form, merged with machines or drugs? Will books be able to keep up?

Don’t get me wrong. The future may not be bleak or destructive – it may be a utopia or a nirvana that we can’t imagine. But in any case, the future is sure to look at the past – our present – and struggle to recognize how their world morphed out of ours, the way we wonder how we evolved from the caveman or the ape. And the books of our day that so carefully reflect the mood, culture, and intellectual capacity of our society shall disappear due to irrelevance and to being unrecognizable. This won’t happen in a million years, or even a millennia, but perhaps a century – or sooner.

Our world today is viewed with disdain, confusion, and concern by the Amish. We all will be viewed as Neanderthals or the Amish by future generations.

It’s ironic that through technology, it seems our words will be preserved more permanently. The digitization of our books could ensure our books will physically outlive their usefulness.

If, through science, we have breakthrough discoveries for diseases and ways to combat the challenges of life, and new ways we can experience life, combined with technology’s ability to alter the way we learn, communicate, travel, or experience every facet of life, we will change and change and change to the point where it is beyond recognition, on a scale never before seen. 

And it will change over and over and over again -- and again -- and again. And again.

There are always pockets of industry that are forgotten, ignored, or undiscovered. The world before printed books is little known to us. The world before 5,000 or 10,000 years ago is barely represented today. Prior to that, the average human lumps 8000 BC with the dinosaur era.

We can’t help it. It’s human nature to ignore, forget, or misunderstand history. But soon our history won’t be understood or referenced. Sure, people centuries from now will still recognize the US Constitution and the Civil War and certain watershed moments in our history, provided America remains a free nation – but no one will understand the life of how we lived in 2014 – nor care. They simply won’t understand our language nor the culture that created it. And they won't be reading any books from today.

So if the planet's extinction is seemingly inevitable (sun burns out), humanity's extinction is inevitable (war, disease, asteroid, alien invasion, robot takeover?), and your book's functional life is likely limited, how will you make your book of today useful and relevant to today;s reader AND readable in the coming centuries?

Will you focus on things that we hope or think will endure -- strong emotions like love, as well things like beauty, nature, and power -- or will we write about things that could be subject to great change due to technological advances and scientific evolution?

Perhaps nothing is immune from the changes our world will come to endure. Nothing remains out of the reach of time, the laboratory or the evolving nature of humanity.

You may say “no way!” or “so what?” And either seems plausible. Whether you agree or not, the world’s accelerating change will likely leave our books in a wasteland. The thought sobers me.

But all that said,  writers write and they write what they know and feel and think. time will tell what has true lasting power. It can't be predicted what will be of importance to the future. Maybe faster, longer-distance space travel (beyond our galaxy) and time travel will come to be and then the future generations will come back to pay us a visit - -and read our books.


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014.

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